This isn't an issue that’s all too unfamiliar to us Texans. Specifically us in central Texas. You wake up bright and early one morning and you notice a strange sight on your back yard sliding glass door. More condensation than a cold glass of water during the summer. Have you ever experienced this? Excess condensation is actually just one of many signs that indicate that you have a problem with high humidity in your home.
High humidity is an issue that is common to us in the climate of central Texas. We’re no strangers to air conditioning in Austin. And that has to do with the climate here. That climate is characterized by two big facts, it is hot, and it is humid. Most of the year this is true, especially during the summer of course, but high humidity can be a problem during any point in the year depending on the weather. If you have suspicions that your house is a victim of high humidity levels then this is the tip of the day for you. We’re going to go over signs of high humidity in the home, why high humidity can be a problem, and what to do about it.
Signs of High Indoor Humidity
Before we talk about the effects of high humidity, on both your home and your health, we should go into what exactly high humidity looks like, because it isn’t always an easy problem to diagnose. But it is far from impossible. There are many signs you can look for when it comes to diagnosing a humidity problem in your home. For example, as the title of this article hints, condensation is a big sign.
When the weather turns chilly, you may begin to notice some condensation on the inside of the windows in your home. Condensation build-up is pretty common and is the end result of warm air inside, cold air outside, and well-insulated home. When these three conditions come together, you’ll end up with foggy, wet windows. In cases where the temperatures are downright frigid, that condensation may even freeze, causing frosty windowpanes inside your home.
That’s not so much a problem in the spring here in Austin. Air conditioning doesn’t help the condensation though. The warm air outside meeting air-conditioned air inside can be another cause of condensation. Believe it or not, this can be even a more obvious sign of high humidity when your home is well insulated. When the humidity vapors become ‘trapped’ inside a well-insulated, or “tight” home, the result is condensation on the inside of windows. A super energy-efficient home, combined with more vapor producing appliances, and those humidity adding activities, make it impossible for all of that moisture to dissipate. The humidity is locked in, and shows up as condensation on inside of windows. In smaller homes, and homes with no basement, the humidity accumulation is even greater, as it has less area to spread out.
There are more signs of high humidity than this though. In fact, one of the most prominent typical signs of high humidity, either in the home or outside, is how the air feels. When your indoor space is too humid and there’s too much water in the air, your home will feel too warm. That’s because humid air actually has more heat than dry air at the exact same temperature. Not only that, you’ll feel sticky because humid air prevents the sweat on your skin from evaporating. Who wants to be hot and sticky in their own home?
If the temperature outside is barely outside your comfort home but you’re still noticing that the air conditioner has to run all the time and your energy bills are high, this might too be an issue with humidity. Because humid air is warmer, that means you’ll have to crank your air conditioner up to try to keep your home cool and comfortable. And you know what that means, right? Exorbitant energy bills. Not only that, when your air conditioner is forced to work harder, it could shorten its life and lead to costly repairs. In other words, excessive indoor humidity costs you money.
Some of the biggest effects of high humidity over a long period of time are the health effects. Specifically, mold can be a big issue that is exponentially more likely in cases of high humidity over a significant period of time. Mold grows in places with excessive moisture. So, high humidity levels in your home provide the perfect conditions for mold growth. Mold can grow just about anywhere in your home: in the walls, windows, pipes, carpet, fabric, ceiling tiles, and anywhere else where there’s a lot of moisture.
The same is true with allergies and other contaminants besides mold. For example, dust mites thrive in warm, humid conditions. If your home has humidity levels exceeding 70%, you could find yourself dealing with a serious dust mite problem. Keeping your home’s humidity level at 60% or less can help prevent the growth of a mite population. Mold and dust mites can both lead to all sorts of allergic reactions and respiratory issues, including itchiness, watery eyes, sneezing, asthma, coughing, wheezing, and more. Which leads us to our next topic, why high humidity is something to avoid.
Negative Effects of High Humidity.
We’ve already touched on this a little but let’s dive in further. The negative effects of high humidity are wide-ranging and much more significant than most people give credit to. It includes effects to your health, effects to your energy usage, and effects to your home itself.
Appropriately, you might find health effects to be the most significant. We all want our homes to be sanctuaries, places that are safe and where we can be free from sickness and discomfort. But that ideal is threatened when the humidity gets too high. A humid environment is a breeding ground for all sorts of microscopic organisms that can harm your health. Mildew and mold spores thrive in it, and they can be highly toxic once they get into your body. If mold is clearly visible inside your home, you have a problem that needs immediate attention. Even if there are no signs, mold and mildew can still spread throughout the vents, or behind walls.
Dust mites also love humidity, and they’re one of the biggest enemies for people who suffer from asthma and allergies. Needless to say, all sorts of bacteria can be found in spaces with high relative humidity. People who live in homes that are struck by mold growth and mildew get sick more often, and their overall health is a lot poorer. Asthma sufferers also experience more frequent attacks. These problems can be mitigated by taking control of the humidity in your home.
These might be some of the most significant effects of high humidity in the home but they are far from the only ones. In fact, you might be surprised to hear about all the effects high humidity can have on your home itself and the things within it. Your health comes first, but high humidity levels can have a negative effect on your home in ways that might be unexpected. For example, basements and crawl spaces are extremely humid and poorly ventilated. Mold and mildew are sure to develop, and humidity can seep into every pore of the house, compromising its structural integrity. The most extreme example is when humidity makes its way into the foundations of a house. Mold and mildew can get even spread inside walls!
Have you ever seen how chairs or guitars are made? No, I’m not rambling!
In order to bend wood without breaking it, you have to expose it to steam for a period of time. Humidity does the same thing to woodwork inside a house. Floorboards begin to creak and bend as a result, and your furniture will get damaged if you don’t deal with the issue. Peeling paint and wet stains on the wall are also warning signs that humidity levels are out of control.
High humidity can be bad for your finances as well. Trying to mitigate the damage cause by overly humid air can cost you a lot of money. If you’re having health problems, check-ups and medicines cost money. If you need to replace the floors or woodwork around your house that will also set you back quite a bit. High humidity is bad for your health, your home, and your budget.
So, now you know how to recognize high humidity in the home and why it is something to be avoided. Let’s take a look at some the ways to reduce humidity and therefore escape some of the negative effects of high humidity.
One of the most obvious ways to reduce humidity in the home is a dehumidifier, in fact, it’s right there in the name. Just because it is obvious though doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea. Even the best AC unit can’t keep the house dry and comfortable during cloudy or rainy weather. There are now high efficiency, high capacity dehumidifiers available that supplement the air conditioning system. They can be installed out of sight using ductwork, and connected to a condensate drain so that you never have to empty the reservoir. This equipment dehumidifies the whole house and also cleans the air 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Some models even provide filtered fresh outdoor ventilation air.
There are less obvious but cheaper and easier ways to control moisture in the home however. For example, don’t neglect those exhaust fans you likely have in your bathroom and kitchen. Use exhaust fans while cooking and bathing or open a window to exchange fresh, drier air and keep that excess moisture out. There are other things to keep in mind too. Reduce the amount of water introduced into the home by cooking with covered pots; taking cooler, shorter showers; venting clothes dryers directly to the outside; and reduce the number of plants in the home. All these small things can add up and make a big difference when it comes to humidity reduction and prevention.
Humidity Reduction and Air Conditioning Repair in Austin
Humidity is the big secret of indoor comfort. Most people don’t give it any thought but sometimes its effects, whether high or low, can have a significant impact on your energy bills, your health, and the state of your house as a whole. Learning how to reduce your humidity levels in your home when there’s a lot of moisture, which isn’t unusual for Austin, is important. Hopefully, that can start with this tip of the day from AC Express.
Speaking of AC Express, don’t forget that if you ever need AC repair in Austin, you can count on us! We’re an Austin AC repair company whose service area includes everything from Buda and Manor to Taylor and Leander. If you need anything from AC maintenance to same day AC repair, call today!