What You Need to Know About Humidity

humidifier-and-flower-chamaedorea-in-pot-on-window
Added on March 2nd 2022

When you think of humidity you most likely picture a holiday in exotic climes, with condensation beading the sides of your long cold glass of iced tea. However, humidity exists everywhere where there’s air, even in the UK.

What is humidity?

Humidity is the measure of how much water there is in a particular air space, whether the space is a geographical region or a small bathroom. Usually, humidity is measured in grams per cubic metre or as a percentage.

As with most things in life, there’s an optimum range for humidity and when the water content of the air around you is too low or too high, you’ll notice some detrimental effects on yourself and on your home.

Indoor humidity levels will vary according to the season, the outdoor temperatures, what you’re doing in the home at the time (cooking creates a lot of humidity, for example) and how well ventilated your home is.

What is the optimum range for indoor humidity?

As a rule, humidity levels of 50% to 55% are ideal for the summer and 45% to 50% is best during an average UK winter.

You can measure your indoor humidity with a monitor if you’re concerned. Humidity monitors start at around £10, which is fine for the average householder, although some models cost in the hundreds. Your monitor will let you know when to take action to improve the levels to keep you and your home in the best condition.

Problems caused by low humidity

If there’s not enough water in the air inside your home you might experience dry eyes, a sore throat and even nosebleeds or dry skin.

Your home won’t be too happy either, with shrinking timbers and floorboards and, if the humidity is really low, shrinking rubber gaskets and seals.

Problems caused by high humidity

If your home is very well-insulated but you don’t open windows very often then you might have a high humidity problem. Humidity can also build up to excessive levels if you frequently dry laundry inside and forget to air the space out. You might notice clammy skin, worsening asthma and other respiratory issues.

Your home could suffer from damp walls, swollen woodwork and floorboards and even infestations of woodworm and above-average levels of dust mites.

How to deal with excess humidity

In the short term, you can use a dehumidifier, which will “grab” water from the air and collect it in a sealed container, allowing you to pour it away. However, this can be expensive and noisy, so once you’ve dried out walls and floors, your best course of action is to ventilate your home more. Opening windows whenever you can is often enough to reduce humidity, especially if you have windows that you can lock in vent mode (you can lock them while they’re slightly open, allowing a trickle of fresh air to get in).

Looking at your lifestyle can also help. If you do a lot of cooking, make sure you use your extractor hood and if your bathroom has no window, always use your extractor fan to remove steam and excess moisture after baths and showers.

Other ways to reduce humidity

Opening windows is useful for most properties, but some homes will need more help to maintain safe humidity levels. If you’re still noticing excess humidity even with opened windows, the causes could include:

  • Leaky rain gutters and blocked downpipes
  • Leaky freshwater pipes
  • Blocked sewers and wastepaper
  • Leaking heating pipes
  • Leaking roofs
  • Badly-constructed groundworks which direct rainwater flows towards the home rather than away

If your humidity and damp problems are due to any of these causes, then you need to call in a plumber or roofer, as you’ll be fighting a losing battle against water soaking through the walls and roof of your property.

 

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