Humidity is the percentage of water vapor in the air. It is measured using a Hygrometer which is available on many thermostats or can be purchased in most hardware stores or online marketplaces. Ideally, we like to see an average of 25 to 40 percent humidity in our customer's homes.
The state of Illinois has the following to say:
"There is no "ideal" humidity level and temperature suitable for all building occupants. Many factors, such as personal activity and clothing may affect personal comfort. Acceptable relative humidity levels should range from 20 percent to 60 percent year-round. Levels less than 20 percent in the winter and greater than 60 percent in the summer should be considered unacceptable."
State of Illinois guidelines Source
During winter conditions humidity levels can drop significantly in homes. This can sometimes be attributed to the way a Forced air Furnace works, the heating element essentially pulling the water vapor right out of the air. When humidity levels are extremely low it can lead to many things such as dehydration, chronic dry skin, nosebleeds, and increased vulnerability to infection. It can also lead to damage of the home such as wood floor and wood furniture becoming brittle and crack.
When humidity is too high you run the risk of increasing mold in your home, create conditions dust mites thrive in, increase amount of mucus in your airways triggering asthma attacks and allergic reactions.
Just like a cold drink on a hot day, condensation is a real problem for your home. If water or ice appear on windows there is also likely to be moisture collecting in wall and attic cavities. A few seasons of that, and building materials -- sheathing, studs and woodwork -- will begin to rot. This will affect the amount of mold in your home and potentially result in costly repairs.
Whole Home Humidifier - when a humidifier is added to a forced air system, we have the ability to now measure and react to humidity levels. This unit will measure the humidity for you and add water to the supply air going into your home proactively to help provide a safe and comfortable environment for your family.
ERV & HRV - when humidity levels are still not controlled, we may find a ventilation problem in your home. With an ERV or HRV we are able to introduce more outside air into your home. These systems help when you have a home that is newer construction and built to be airtight. In this case humidity cannot escape and you can have the condensation on the windows referred to above.
Humidity is something you have to get right: not too much, not too little.
We are happy to help you understand your home humidity needs during your next seasonal maintenance visit. We are experts on the two solutions above and answer more questions about these units. We can also assess your current system and ensure it is working properly, the filters have been changed, and small parts are functioning to manufacturer specs.
Give us a call for more information