The role of humidity in home maintenance

Having too little or too much humidity in your home can cause a plethora of problems. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the importance of ideal humidity levels and the best practices you can follow.

How humidity affects home maintenance

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Humidity is a crucial variable to consider when it comes to maintaining healthy indoor air quality and ensuring comfortable living in your home. Humidity refers to the amount of water vapour in the air and can impact indoor air quality.

High humidity levels can promote mould growth, attract pests and cause structural damage. Low levels of humidity can lead to dry skin and respiratory problems. Here, we’ll dive into the importance of humidity in your home and provide tips on properly monitoring and regulating humidity levels to ensure a safe and comfortable living space for you and your family.

Understanding humidity

Understanding humidity levels and how they affect our homes is essential in maintaining a comfortable living space and deterring mould growth and other indoor air quality problems. There are two main types of humidity. They are relative humidity and absolute humidity.

  • Relative humidity (RH) – Relative humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air in relation to the maximum amount it can hold at a specific temperature. RH is expressed in percentage form and is used to describe how humid air feels. Ionmax dehumidifiers use RH as the unit to measure humidity within rooms.
  • Absolute humidity (AH) – Absolute humidity is the actual amount of moisture in the air regardless of temperature. It is usually expressed in grams of water vapour per cubic metre. Unlike RH, absolute humidity is not affected by changes in temperature.

Simply put, RH is a measure of the amount of moisture in the air with consideration of its maximum capacity at a given temperature. In contrast, AH is the actual measure of the amount of moisture in the air without considering the temperature.

Effects of high humidity on your home

High levels of humidity create ideal breeding grounds for bacteria, viruses, pests and other unwanted allergens and particles. If relative humidity levels in your home are left unregulated, your home could be a breeding ground for a host of moisture issues, such as:

  • Mould and mildew growth – mould tends to grow on damp surfaces, and once they start growing, it can be very difficult to completely eliminate them, depending on the surface on which it grows. Mould also spreads by releasing tiny spores into the air, which can be easily inhaled. Ionmax air purifiers help trap mould from ambient air to stop their growth.
  • Dust mites – like mould, dust mites and other pests also thrive in warm and moist environments. If left unchecked, dust mites can cause respiratory issues and other health problems.
  • Structural damage – excessive moisture in the air can weaken structural integrity such as floorboards, support beams and also framing. This can lead to cracking and, eventually, structural failure. High levels of humidity can also expedite the corrosion of metal fixtures like screws and nails.

READ MORE: How dehumidifiers get rid of mould

How to regulate humidity levels in your home

  • Ventilate your home – by opening up a window or using alternative forms of ventilation; excess moisture will be able to escape your home and improve air circulation.
  • Use a dehumidifier – Ionmax dehumidifiers are able to draw in ambient air and process it to become less humid, depending on your preferred humidity level. Moisture from the air is then collected in a bucket and can be easily discarded.
  • Fix leaks and water damage – both of these can act as a source of moisture that contributes to high humidity levels, especially in areas with poor ventilation.
  • Use air conditioning – air conditioning helps regulate humidity levels by cooling the air and removing moisture. As warm air enters the air conditioner, it is cooled, and moisture in the air condenses into water droplets that are collected in a drain pan or reservoir. Some air conditioners have a dehumidifying mode that specifically removes moisture from the air without cooling it.

Effects of low humidity in your home

Low humidity levels tend to occur during winter when indoor air often becomes dry. Cold air, which carries less moisture than warm air, will enter your home and become heated, lowering its relative humidity. Low levels of indoor humidity tend to also happen during dry summers when there is excessive air conditioning.

Low levels of humidity can cause the following symptoms

  • Respiratory issues – relative humidity and the temperature of indoor air play a role in nasal congestion. When exposed to cold, dry air, the lining of the nose becomes inflamed and will likely produce more mucus which results in nasal congestion.
  • Dry eyes – environments with low levels of humidity can increase the evaporation of tears in your eyes and dry them up faster than usual. Dry eyes may naturally cause you to blink more frequently and can take a toll on the performance of visual tasks like reading.
  • Dry, scaly and itchy skin – this condition happens more frequently during the winter seasons and has been appropriately dubbed ‘winter itch’. Winter itch is caused by a lack of moisture in your skin. Not only does the air dry up the skin at the surface but it also draws moisture out from inside the skin, causing cracks that can be painful and potentially open up the pathways for infections.

How to increase humidity levels in your home

  • Use a humidifier – The ION90 humidifier works by turning the water placed inside the unit’s tank into water vapour through a humidification process. The water vapour is then released into the surrounding air, increasing the moisture content and effectively raising RH levels in the air.
  • Add indoor plants – like the ION90 humidifier, indoor plants release moisture through a process called transpiration. As they absorb water through their roots, some of the water is rereleased into the air through tiny pores on the surface of the leaves. Additionally, plants can act as natural air purifiers by absorbing toxins from the air and releasing more oxygen, making the air healthier to breathe. For best results, use indoor plants with other methods to increase humidity levels.
  • Leave water out – by leaving water out in a container or bowl can increase humidity levels in your home through evaporation. When water is exposed to air, some of it turns into water vapour, increasing the moisture content in the air. As the moisture content increases, so do humidity levels.
  • Dry clothes indoors – similar to leaving water out, the humidity levels in your home are likely to increase as a result of the moisture from wet clothes evaporating into your living space.

When using these methods to increase RH levels in your home, it’s best practice to monitor humidity levels to ensure that over-humidifying does not happen as this will lead to high humidity issues as explained above.

The ideal humidity levels

According to the National Asthma Council, ideal RH levels are between 30%-50%. However, other variables like climate, personal preference and health conditions should be taken into account when identifying the best RH level for your home.

Mould is likely to start growing when RH levels are at 60% or above for extended periods of time.

Ionmax dehumidifiers give users complete control over humidity levels in their homes. They are equipped with a host of innovative features, including built-in negative ionisers, antibacterial air filters and even WiFi connectivity for remote control.

Ionmax has a wide selection of desiccant and compressor dehumidifiers on our online store. Check out Ionmax’s catalogue of air treatment appliances for all indoor air quality needs.

To learn more about indoor humidity control, read our resources below:

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general reference only. Please seek advice from professionals according to your needs.

Ionmax Australia

Ionmax Australia

Founded in 2003, Ionmax Australia has received numerous awards and accolades for its innovative products and commitment to customer satisfaction. Ionmax dehumidifiers and air purifiers have been recognised for their effectiveness in reducing indoor air pollutants and improving air quality. The company is committed to researching and developing new and improved products that meet the needs and expectations of its customers, making it a trusted name in households across Australia and beyond.

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