Do You Know How Humidity Affects Indoor Air Quality?

Most newer homes in Los Angeles have airtight construction, and that means moisture can build up beyond the 30-50 percent relative humidity recommended for the typical residence. Are you aware of how humidity affects indoor air quality and other issues in your home? Here’s what a homeowner should know.

hygrometer

Source: iStock.com/fotorezekne

Signs of Too-High Humidity

Test your home’s humidity with a hygrometer to determine if it’s too high. Look for telltale signs such as excessive condensation, water stains, mold or a musty odor. Mold should be of particular concern. Mold gives off a musty, unpleasant smell and the spores it produces are unhealthful. Mold can exacerbate allergies, asthma and other respiratory issues. What’s more, high humidity will make the home’s occupants feel uncomfortably warm in summer, necessitating turning the thermostat down more than you would if the home were less humid.

Why High Humidity Occurs

High humidity is often an issue when homes lack sufficient ventilation: for instance, bathrooms and kitchen ranges that are unventilated often have mold problems. Insufficient insulation and lack of air sealing can also allow the penetration of humid air into the home. Even the wrong size air conditioner can cause too much humidity. If the A/C is too large, it may be short cycling, so that it doesn’t stay on long enough to adequately extract humidity from the return air. Moisture problems can also occur when there are plumbing leaks or obstructions in the condensate drain.

What to Do

Limit humidity by fixing leaks, shortening the length of showers and grouping plants together in one room and closing the door. Add exhaust ventilation to the bathroom and above the kitchen range. Check the condensate drain of the A/C for obstructions, and if you have an opportunity to replace your A/C, make sure it is sized correctly with industry software. Also, a dehumidifier may be installed in the air conditioner to help remove moisture.

To learn more about how humidity affects indoor air quality, contact Reliance Home Services. We’ve served greater Los Angeles since 1945.