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How do I Maintain the Right Home Humidity?

Dana Hinders
Updated May 16, 2024
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Your home humidity is a measurement of the amount of vaporized water in the air. Humidity levels are naturally higher in warmer climates and lower in cooler climates. The type of home you live in can also affect your humidity measurement. Older and less energy efficient homes are prone to have lower indoor humidity levels, while more modern homes with higher energy efficiency tend to have higher humidity levels.

Both high and low home humidity levels can cause problems. Humidity levels that are too high can lead to peeling paint, mold, and wet insulation. Humidity levels that are too low can cause cracks in your drywall, shrink wood floors, and loosen the joints in wood furniture.

Generally, people are most comfortable when home humidity is between 20 and 60 percent. It is recommended, however, that you keep your home's humidity level between 30 and 40 percent. This is the ideal humidity level because it balances your need for comfort with the conditions that are least likely to cause structural damage to your house.

There are several different strategies you can use for determining home humidity, none of which require the purchase of expensive equipment. Drop three ice cubes into a glass, add water, stir and wait for three minutes; if moisture does not form on the outside of the glass, you may need a humidifier. On the other hand, if you notice frequent fogging of your windows or moisture buildup on closet walls and room ceilings, you may have too much humidity in your home.

Daily activities such as showering, bathing, doing laundry, and cooking all add water to the air in your home. If the humidity level in your home is too high, you should start cooking with pans covered and open a window for a few minutes to bring in cool air after the meal is complete. Taking shorter showers with cooler water may also be helpful for humidity control. If these basic changes don't help correct the problem, using a dehumidifier is recommended.

If your home humidity levels are too low, your skin and hair may feel dry and itchy. The mucous membranes in your mouth and throat may dry out as well, which increases your susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. Purchasing a humidifier for your home is the best way to remedy this problem. Portable humidifiers work by circulating air through a wet pad or a discharging a fine mist into the room. You must add water on a regular basis, but the unit can be moved from room to room as needed.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dana Hinders
By Dana Hinders
With a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, Dana Hinders brings a strong foundation to her work as a freelance writer. After discovering her passion for freelance writing following the birth of her son, Dana has been a vital part of the HomeQuestionsAnswered team. She also showcases her versatility by creating sales copy and content for e-courses and blogs.
Discussion Comments
By sarahjane — On Oct 16, 2013

There is a very cool wireless tool/gadget made by a new start up company called Sensorist. They produce a range of wireless sensors that measure temperature and humidity. Measurements are collected 24/7 online and can be accessed forever. Unlike traditional thermometers, they offer data visualizations, trends, full history and custom alarms - on their website or App. You can get a detailed view of what’s going on - even when you are not around. You can set an alarm so you get a notification if the humidity and temperature goes above or below your optimal level. Plus, there is an App, so you can keep an eye on it even when you are not at home.

It's super cool.

By ValleyFiah — On Dec 18, 2010

@ Alchemy- Sometimes it may be too big of a fix to deal with humidity problems, or you have a landlord that is unwilling to deal with the issue. In this case, it may be easiest to purchase a dehumidifier and let it do the work for you. For a couple hundred dollars, you can buy a nice dehumidifier that will regulate the humidity according to the settings that you input into the humidity sensor. The dehumidifier will automatically turn on and off as needed, and they are not very loud.

Dehumidifiers are a pain because you have to dump the water reservoir, but you can have it drain directly outside or into the drainage reservoir for your HVAC unit. If you install it close to an exterior wall, you can drill a hole in the wall, insert the drainage hose through the wall, and place a screen over the end so pests do not find their way inside. You can also place them in the same closet as the HVAC unit and have it drain into the same line the HVAC unit does.

By cougars — On Dec 15, 2010

@ Alchemy- There are a host of issues that could be causing your home humidity problems, and occasionally there are no real fixable issues only ways to decrease the humidity. The first thing you should do is have an HVAC specialist come out to your home to check your heating and cooling system. You should also check to see that everything in your home is vented properly. Humidity can cause air quality problems as well as attract pests and termites. You should also check to see if the drainage line for your air conditioning unit is clogged. Improper drainage can lead to humidity problems. Finally, it may all come down to the insulating quality of your windows and the placement of your HVAC unit. These things can affect the humidity levels in your home.

By Alchemy — On Dec 14, 2010

I live in Phoenix Arizona and I have a problem with high humidity during certain times of year. The humidity is the worst usually during the monsoon season and as the weather begins to turn cold. What are some of the best ways to lower my humidity levels in my condominium? There are HOA rules about leaving doors open, and there is only one small window on the bottom floor that opens. The other downstairs windows are large plate glass windows that do not open at all. Sometimes it gets so humid that my air Conditioning unit will ice over (Why it is located in the house beats me), making me shut it off in the heat of summer until it can thaw out. If anyone has any ideas, I would appreciate the help.

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders
With a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, Dana Hinders brings a strong foundation to...
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