Humidity refers to the concentration of water vapor or moisture in the air. While some moisture is beneficial, too much can make your indoor environment feel stuffy and uncomfortable. Excess indoor moisture can also cause your HVAC appliances to work harder to maintain stable indoor conditions, and it can even cause problems such as creating the perfect moist environment for the spread of mold, mildew, and pests.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), relative indoor humidity should fall between 30% and 50%. This comfortable range can help you avoid problems associated with too much household moisture. But what causes excess water vapor in the first place, and what can homeowners do to mitigate the damaging effects of this occurrence? A look at the top sources of indoor humidity can provide insight for correcting the problem and safeguarding your property and home.

Weather and Climate

Outdoor conditions are among the top reasons that your home can feel humid. If it is extremely humid outside, water vapor can begin to accumulate within the home. Weather conditions like periods of heavy fog or rainfall can increase humidity inside the residence. You may begin to see condensation on windows, and your indoor environment can start to feel muggy as well. Finally, some parts of the country are more prone to humid conditions than others. Houses located in tropical, subtropical, or coastal regions all have higher relative indoor humidity than homes located in colder regions.

Even households located in low-lying basins or other major geological features can experience higher moisture levels due to trapped water vapor. While it is impossible to control outdoor weather or climate conditions, individuals with houses located in these areas may need to work with HVAC professionals to reduce excessive humidity within the home. In Vacaville, we tend to have a pleasant climate, but it is somewhat humid with an average annual humidity percentage of 66%.

Plumbing Leaks or Seepage

Leaks from the plumbing system can also increase the relative indoor humidity of the home. These leaks can involve major cracks that eventually result in water damage or flooding, but they can also include hairline fractures that create condensation on pipes and cause moisture to seep into household air. It is important to periodically check plumbing pipes for cracks and corrosion. According to the EPA, excessive moisture from leaks can encourage the growth of indoor biological pollutants. Not only can biological contaminants exacerbate allergies and respiratory illnesses, but they can also produce unpleasant odors and eventually cause structural damage within the home.

Poor Insulation

Insulation is one of the main factors that helps a home maintain stable indoor conditions. During the winter, insulation helps keep warm air inside the house and prevents cold air from seeping through cracks into the home. If insulation is poor, cold air can enter the home and cancel out the hard work of your furnace. The same principle applies during humid conditions. If home insulation is poor, damp air can seep in due to any gaps in the home. At the same time, cool air from your air conditioner can leak out.

Though it may seem as if your AC is not blowing enough cold air, the unit may actually be working overtime to keep your home cool. This can result in excessive wear and tear on the equipment and also cause spikes in utility bills. A home services professional can check your insulation and offer suggestions for replacing any gaps or worn spots.

Showering and Appliances

Everyday activities like showering, cooking, or laundering clothes can also increase humidity levels within the home. Long showers can increase the concentration of warm water vapor in the air. Warmer air can also hold more moisture, and if you have multiple bathrooms, this moist, dense air can linger throughout the house. Since most home occupants shower or bathe at least once a day, this routine activity means that you are increasing indoor humidity on a daily basis.

In addition to showering, other activities like boiling water or operating the dishwasher can pump moisture straight into the air from the kitchen. Even chores like using the washing machine or drying clothes indoors on a rack can increase the humidity of the home.

Benefits of Whole-Home Dehumidifiers

If you suspect high humidity within the home, reach out to one of our professionals from Cozy Home Services for help. Common signs of indoor humidity include stuffy rooms, increased allergens, water stains, damp carpets, excessive condensation, musty odors, or visible mold. Our professionals can test humidity levels using a special moisture gauge known as a hygrometer. The hygrometer can help homeowners understand whether moisture percentage levels fall within the range recommended by the EPA.

If your home’s humidity level exceeds the recommended range, the most practical solution is to install a whole-home dehumidifier. This appliance pulls excess water vapor from the air and increases the overall air quality of your home. While you may assume it is easy to set up a portable dehumidifier, the problem is that a portable dehumidifier can only reach limited spaces within the home.

This means that you would need to find multiple dehumidifiers of various sizes to fit into bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, basements, etc. And no matter how many portable devices you install, there might still be areas of excess moisture you may not notice.

In contrast, a whole-home dehumidifier can help improve air quality throughout all your rooms. This means that if you have multiple bathrooms or zones in the home, you can always rely on a whole-house dehumidifier to maintain consistent moisture levels. It is the most efficient way to maintain a comfortable indoor environment and deter problems like hidden mold growth within the residence. Because the whole-house dehumidifier connects directly to the HVAC system, it is not an eyesore. It can operate effectively without creating visual or audible disturbances in your house.

Whole-home dehumidifiers can also help protect valuable belongings throughout the home. For example, excess moisture can warp the pages of valuable books, and it can also damage clothing or even certain types of foods. Too much humidity can also warp structural wood and cause metal tools or equipment to rust. A whole-home dehumidifier can remove extra moisture and give you peace of mind about items stored anywhere within the home. Finally, a dehumidifier reduces the chances that excess moisture can create a habitat for allergens. This helps all home occupants and pets breathe easier.

Rely on Our Local Expertise

While some factors that cause excess humidity may seem out of your control, there are steps you can take to create a more comfortable home. Cozy Home Services provides indoor air quality and HVAC services for homes in Vacaville, CA and surrounding areas. We can test indoor moisture levels and install whole-home dehumidifiers as needed. Our experts can also check related HVAC appliances like air conditioners and conduct repairs if required.

If you believe the excess moisture is the result of a plumbing leak, we can also perform leak detection and diagnose that issue. Since we offer a complete array of HVAC and plumbing installation, maintenance, and repair services, we can help regardless of the problem. Contact us at Cozy Home Services today to schedule a consultation.