Having too little or too much humidity in your Morgantown, WV, home is a recipe for disaster. When paired with the constant supply of heat from your furnace, heat pump or boiler, excess moisture could set the stage for rapid mold and mildew growth. In addition to condensation-covered windows, damp drywall and warped building materials, you could also contend with indoor conditions that are muggy and downright oppressive. Excessively dry air is problematic, too. It can lead to frequent nosebleeds, persistent nasal irritation and dry, irritated skin. Fortunately, you can use the following 10 tips to regulate your indoor humidity this cold season.
1. Clean Your Bathroom Exhaust Fans and Range Hood Vent
During the winter months, indoor humidity can tip either way. If you’re running your heater often and have few people in your home, your living environment might be overly dry. However, when kids leave school for the holiday season and families welcome guests, lots of physical movement, frequent cooking projects and multiple, steamy baths or showers might leave building interiors feeling a bit moist.
To combat excess humidity caused by having a large and active household, thoroughly clean your bathrooms’ exhaust fans and your range hood vent. These two forms of mechanical ventilation usher a number of common pollutants out. They also keep bathrooms and kitchens from becoming wet with condensation. You can clean off the exterior of your bathroom exhaust fans with a soft, damp cloth. Then, vacuum behind them to collect trapped buildups of lint, hair, dirt and other grime.
To clean your stove’s range hood vent, remove its front panel by loosening its clasps. Then, soak it in a solution of warm water and mild dish soap. If there’s a thick, yellow coating of cooked-on grease that won’t break down, you can also cover the front panel in a generous dusting of baking soda and rinse it with equal parts white vinegar and water. Before putting it back in place, rinse this component again with pure water until the water runs clear. Never use your stove or oven without switching on your range hood vent first.
2. Regularly Check and Change Your HVAC Air Filter
Another thing that can add excess moisture to your home during the winter months is running your furnace or heat pump with a dirty air filter. When these components have sizable, lint-like mats of debris, air cannot move through them. This increases the amount of work that heaters must do and often leads to overheating. It also undermines your HVAC system’s efforts to regulate humidity and can lead to a buildup of moisture within your ducts.
Always check your HVAC air filter every 30 days. In most homes, air filter changes should be performed every one to three months.
3. Know When To Manually Ventilate Your Home
If your indoor air feels especially muggy, consider turning your heater off for a few minutes and opening your windows and doors. With a packed house and lots of moisture-generating activities, your indoor humidity levels could exceed both the humidity regulation capabilities of your HVAC system and any supporting features, like your range hood vent and exhaust fans.
4. Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
Take a few proactive measures to reduce the amount of allergens, pathogens and contaminants floating around your home. If there’s too much dirt, dander and other debris in your indoor air, these particulates will quickly overwhelm your HVAC filter. Moreover, many micro-fine contaminants often pass right through standard filter mesh and make their way into air ducts or the interior of heating equipment. Much like a dirty air filter, buildups of debris throughout your ducting and other parts of your HVAC system will lead to poor humidity regulation and heavy, oppressive-feeling air.
Among some of the top ways to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) are:
- Having inside pets regularly groomed
- Limiting the use of scented candles and chemical-laden sprays
- Regularly washing drapes and bedding
- Having guests smoke outdoors and away from the building
You can also invest in a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
If you have a number of ongoing IAQ concerns, you may even want to install an integrated HVAC system accessory. Although air purifiers, air scrubbers and media filters don’t offer humidity regulation, they’ll help indirectly by keeping your air cleaner and supporting your HVAC system.
5. Deal With Dirty, Damaged Air Ducts
Leaky ductwork allows unfiltered air to enter HVAC systems and bypass their filters entirely. Worse still, this unfiltered air often comes from heavily contaminated areas, such as basements, garages and attics. This can lead to a dramatic decrease in your IAQ, airflow problems and mounting stress for your heater. Have your HVAC ductwork inspected, repaired, insulated and sealed as needed. These measures will boost your IAQ, prevent undue furnace wear and support your HVAC system in balancing humidity.
6. Consider Whole-House Humidification/Dehumidification Equipment
Sometimes humidity challenges cannot be resolved by HVAC systems and mechanical ventilation alone. Many experts assert that the ideal humidity for residential buildings is between 30% and 60%. Schedule an appointment to have your home’s humidity tested. If your test results are well outside of this range, you might want to have a whole-house humidifier or dehumidifier put in. This equipment will seamlessly support your HVAC system by extracting or adding moisture as needed.
7. Schedule Dryer Vent Cleaning
Don’t overlook the impact that your clothes dryer may be having on your indoor humidity. When dryer vents become blocked by buildups of lint and other debris, much of the moisture that escapes from wet clothes and linens ends up being trapped indoors. Having your dryer vent cleaned will help minimize your humidity woes this winter. It will also reduce the risk of dangerous vent fires.
8. Schedule a Whole-House Plumbing Inspection
If excess humidity remains a challenge despite your best efforts to control it, schedule a whole-house plumbing inspection. Slow or hidden leaks could be adding moisture to your indoor air all the time. These are often found behind drywall and at the backs of appliances along their connections. Persistent humidity issues could also be a sign of a slab leak.
9. Add Some Houseplants To Boost Your Indoor Humidity
If your home suffers from overly dry indoor air throughout the winter season, bring a few houseplants in to add a bit of moisture. In a 1993 study on the impact that indoor plants have on air pollution, NASA researchers determined that adding plants to enclosed spaces could boost IAQs. Plants have the inherent ability to extract airborne contaminants, like benzene and formaldehyde, from the air we breathe. When they’re present in sufficient numbers, they also add a fair amount of moisture to the air.
10. Upgrade Your Windows and Doors or Install Weatherstripping
If you haven’t replaced your home’s windows in quite a while, they could be letting in unwanted moisture while simultaneously allowing your heat to escape. Upgrading your windows and doors will solve these problems. However, you can get similar results at a far lesser cost by installing high-quality weatherstripping instead.
Since 2013, we’ve been helping residents of Morgantown, WV, optimize their home comfort. We offer top-notch furnace and air conditioner maintenance, replacement and repair services. You can also turn to us for outstanding indoor air quality solutions, new ductwork, and whole-house humidification and dehumidification equipment. Contact Absolute Air today to schedule an appointment.