If the air in your house becomes too dry, this may be a problem, especially if you are like me and have babies and pets in the home. Keeping the air at a proper moisture level for everybody is essential for comfort and happiness.
In this article, I am going to go over the methods of measuring humidity in your home. I will discuss what I’ve learned over the ten years I have owned my home and helped do repairs on others. You will be happy to learn it’s easy to keep track of and remedy.
Humidity in the Home: Why It’s Important
Did you know that the Environmental Protection Agency puts indoor air quality as a top health concern of the environmental variety? It’s true. It is advised you have fresh, clean air that is of less than 50% relative humidity in your home.
The air outside is often fresh as it is loaded with oxygen, so you should open the windows and let it in to get some new air into your home and flush out the old stuff. However, the outside air has to be filtered in order to be removed of harmful particles, allergens found in the air, and other things we should not breathe.
You should aim to keep the relative humidity below 50% as a means of prevention. Doing this will prevent infestations of dust mites, prevent the growth of mildew and mold, and inhibit bacterial growth.
If you live in a cold climate, be sure to keep winter humidity levels even lower than the norm-we’re talking about 30 to 40%. In this manner, condensation will be prevented on your windows and other surfaces.
Do you feel like the humidity in your home is high? Unless the climate in which you reside is an arid one, having bouts of high humidity can create problems for living beings and structures. Look for these signs that humidity is too high:
- Feelings of stickiness or mugginess
- Wooden floors that are “cupped”
- Water stains/condensation stains
- Wallpaper/paint that is peeling or blistering
- Having allergic reactions to mites or mold
- Musty odors in the home, crawlspace, basement
How to Measure Humidity in the Home?
1. Get a Good Hygrometer
To make sure you are keeping track of the humidity properly, be sure you have a good hygrometer. Here is an affordable one you can get right on Amazon.
However, if you cannot get your hands on a hygrometer, I can show you some ways of measuring the humidity using things you already have around the home. These are not exact methods, so I highly recommend that you get a good hygrometer when you can.
2. Ice Cube Trick
Our first method is the Ice Cube trick. You just need a glass of water and four cubes of ice. Take a glass of water and put the ice inside of it, and then put the glass into the room that you suspect has poor humidity levels. (Bear in mind that you should not do this in the bathroom or kitchen-the levels here fluctuate so much).
Leave the room so you do not affect the humidity levels in there. Come back in about five minutes. If you notice condensation on the outside of that class, the humidity is high in there, and you may wish to remedy that.
3. The Wet-Dry Bulb Test
Our second method is the Wet/Dry bulb test. We are referring to thermometer bulbs here, not flowers or lightbulbs. You need a glass of water, cotton, a fan, duct tape, 2 of the same mercury thermometers, and some cardboard. You will also need a rubber band.
One thermometer will be used normally, and the other will be the wet-bulb thermometer.
Start by making sure the mercury in both thermometers is down into the bulb all the way.
Do the next step by wrapping a bit of cotton around the bottom of the thermometer where the bulb is and secure it with your rubber band. Them moisten the cotton with room-temp water.
Once the wet thermometer is all ready to go, put both of them on your cardboard.
Be sure both bulbs are out and use the duct tape to affix them onto the cardboard in one spot. Turn on the fan and bring in your thermometers, pointing the fan at your cardboard setup. Leave the fan there for about five minutes to do its work.
Come back after five minutes and record the temps. You can then get the humidity by working out the difference of the wet-bulb temp from the dry bulb temp. (For this exercise, write down the temps in Celsius and subtract them so you can use this table).
When I ran this test, it was 28C in my home, and the wet bulb was reading 14C. Subtracting this led me to 14. I put one finger on the top of the table on 14 (the difference) and then another finger on 28 for the left-hand column.
I moved my fingers till they met, and this led me to 17% humidity.
How Can I Improve the Humidity?
To help you lower high humidity indoors, there are a few steps you can take:
- For starters, you can leave potted plants outdoors. These are really great to have indoors when it is dry in winter, but in summer, take your potted friends outside. Using a method called transpiration, plants make moisture. If you keep them indoors, you add to the humidity.
- You can also take short showers. It’s easy to stand in the shower and contemplate life, but it just makes the humidity increase. The bathroom fan can only do so much! On a hot day, try a cool shower so the humidity is not as bad in the home. And always, always use the ventilation fans when you cook, bathe or do other activities in your bathroom or kitchen.
- Lastly, buying yourself a good dehumidifier is a great way to keep the air regulated. A mini dehumidifier is a nice way to keep things in a healthy state, but sometimes you may need something bigger.
If you need to bring the humidity up, here’s how you do it:
- You can start by getting yourself a nice humidifier, right on Amazon. Just be sure it can cover your room or house where you have to add humidity in.
- Another method is to add some potted plants. For those of us in winter climes, these can improve your mood with their greenery. The transpiration of these plants we discussed earlier will have your room feeling moisturized, too.
- You can also simply add some bowls of water near places of heat. The warm air coming out of your vents and hitting the bowls will evaporate that water and get it into the air. You can refill the bowls as needed.
What Is the Recommended Humidity for My Home?
While your family will have their own personal preference about what the air should feel like, here are some recommendations about air humidity levels.
Why It Matters
All in all, you must create an environment that is comfortable for you and your family. After all, having too high humidity can be hard for those with asthma as well as allergies. Their symptoms may get worse or even happen more frequently.
Furthermore, the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria are also prevalent in homes with too much moisture. Being around and breathing in, these substances can result in various health problems and a general feeling of discomfort.
At the same time, having too low humidity can lead to dry skin, worsened asthma and allergy effects, and even chapped lips. Nosebleeds can also happen.
Meanwhile, wood, furniture, and other materials used in home construction are affected. Lack of moisture can lead to damaged floors, trims, and door frames.
In short, it is not difficult to keep your home in a healthy state so long as you keep track of the humidity inside. Get your hands on a good hygrometer so you can know when it’s time to take action against conditions that are too dry or too humid.
Make everyday changes in your routine to promote an environment that is just right. Your family and guests will feel much better, and you will too.