Humidity control and air quality are closely related. One is ultimately a result of the other. This time of year when heaters are turned up many people start noticing the effects of the dry heat. Hardwood dries out and begins to make eery creaking noises and gaps begin to appear in flooring and old boards foam lack of moisture. Physical symptoms like chapped lips, dry and itchy skin and dry nasal passages are also signs that the humidity levels in the home are too low in a home. As a temporary solution, most residents crank up the humidifiers in an attempt to regain some comfort. However, doing this can have some serious consequences to the air quality.

How does humidity relate to air quality?

Indoor air gets drier in the winter due to less water vapor in the air. When outdoor air creeps inside the home, it heats up and becomes dry as well. Most dry air enters through infiltration or leaks in a home. To keep a consistent humidity level it is best to follow recommendations for “Relative Humidity” which is between 40%-60%. Relative humidity (RH) indicates the amount of water vapor (percent) that’s actually in the air compared to the maximum amount that the air could hold under the same conditions. The warmer the air, the more moisture it can hold. This percentage can change drastically from each area of a room depending on how well it is insulated and sealed. As a best practice routine, do not use a humidifier if the RH is above 25%. Water vapor likes cold surfaces, and high humidity means more water. If the RH levels are too high, your home becomes a breeding ground for mold and viruses. Depending on the type of humidifier you’re using, whether it be portable-commonly sold on shelves to treat a single room, or a whole-house humidifier- installed inside your HVAC, mold will grow where the humidity meets the cold surface. This means there is a potential for mold to grow in your actual air ducts and you would never know. Refer to the chart below to better understand how RH levels affect your air quality. Contact us to learn more about how to properly control humidity and ensure healthy air quality.