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3 Problems Caused By High Indoor Humidity (And How to Prevent Them)

Here in the Twin Cities area, summer means temperatures are on the rise—and so are humidity levels.

Some humidity is good (35%–50% relative humidity is ideal), but when indoor humidity levels exceed 50%, you’ll start to get issues like…

  1. Mold/mildew
  2. Insect infestation
  3. Damage to furniture and appliances

We’ll go into more detail about each of these issues, then we’ll share how you can fight high indoor humidity this summer.

Humidity problem #1: Mold/mildew

Mold/mildew is the most recognizable and common issue caused by high indoor humidity.

To understand how humidity causes mold to form, let’s look at the 3 things mold/mildew need to grow:

  • Warm temperatures: Mold can grow in temperatures ranging from 40° F to 100° F, which means your home will always provide welcoming temperatures for mold/mildew.
  • Food source: Mold feeds off of almost any organic material. These materials include dust, food, grease and wood. Spoiler alert: Your home has all of these organic materials!
  • Moisture: This is where humidity comes into the equation. High humidity levels means there is more moisture in the air.

When mold grows in the home, it can cause serious health problems. If you have mold you’ll want to call a mold remediation specialist to remove it.

Humidity problem #2: Insect infestation

Nobody likes insects in their home. But if you have high humidity, you increase the risk of having these unwanted pests take up residence in your home.

Here’s why: Some insects eat mold and mildew (the byproducts of high humidity), so if your home has mold, that’s just an invitation for these critters to cohabit your living space.

Other insects just feel comfortable in humid environments. These insects include dust mites, cockroaches and beetles.

Humidity problem #3: Damage to furniture and appliances

Because humidity carries moisture with it, it can actually damage your furniture and electronics.

Home damage associated with high humidity includes:

  • Mold in carpet, bed or couches
  • Peeling wall paint
  • Disintegrating drywall
  • Wet insulation
  • Fried electronics
  • Caved-in floorboards
  • Decaying cabinets, shelves or other woodwork

How to fight high indoor humidity

Below are some tips to keep your indoor humidity levels at a minimum:

Tip #1: Leave plants outside

Plants are good to have inside during the dry winter months, but during the summer, consider leaving them outside.

You see, plants produce moisture as part of a process called transpiration. So if you leave them indoors, you’re just adding to your home’s high humidity.

Tip #2: Take shorter showers

The longer your showers, the more moisture you’re adding to your bathroom, which is one of the most common places for mold to develop. Also consider taking colder showers because they don’t add as much humidity.

Tip #3: Use ventilation fans

When you shower or cook, make sure you turn on the exhaust fans in the bathroom/kitchen so that humid air can be moved outside.

Tip #4: Invest in a dehumidifier

You can buy a portable dehumidifier that can reduce humidity in a room or small space. You can find portable dehumidifiers at your local home improvement store.

If you’re interested in dehumidifying your entire home, consider a whole-home dehumidifier. These dehumidifiers are installed in your home’s ductwork, so a professional will have to install it for you.

Tip #5: Hire a professional to maintain your air conditioner

Believe it or not, one of the best defences against high indoor humidity is your air conditioner.

You see, during normal operation, your air conditioner actually removes heat and moisture from your home’s air—which makes your home less humid.

However, if your air conditioner hasn’t been regularly maintained by a professional (at least once per year), then it loses its ability to dehumidify warm air.

You see, the dehumidification process (pictured below) is carried out in the evaporator coil , which is located inside the indoor air handler.

dehumidification process on evaporator coil
The dehumidification process: Warm air is blown across the evaporator coil, which absorbs moisture in the air. Once the air is dehumidified/cooled, it re-enters your home. All the moisture that was stripped from the air then drains away outside.

But if the evaporator coil is dirty then it can’t absorb moisture as well because all the dust is creating a barrier between the air and the coil. Also, if your evaporator coil is dirty, it will eventually start growing mold (dust + moisture = mold).

The bottom line? Schedule an AC tune-up if you haven’t already done so this year.

Need professional help dehumidifying your home?

Schedule an appointment today.

We’ll make sure your AC is working properly so it can dehumidify your home’s air this summer and we can provide you with dehumidifier recommendations.

Visit our air quality services page to learn more about how we combat poor indoor air quality, or schedule a home air quality analysis.

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