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What Should The Humidity Be in Your Home?

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A person adjusting a dial on a humidifier in their home

We all know about Alberta’s dry climate, especially in the winter. Even if you do have a humidifier in your home, it can be tough keeping your home at the right humidity level. But there are benefits for your health and your home in keeping air moisture levels at the right place.

Getting a professionally installed humidifier system might be easier and cheaper than you think. Let’s explore what the right humidity can do for your home lifestyle and why a humidifier, or dehumidifier, is a worthwhile investment. Get in touch with your trusted local professional for information on humidifier options for your home.

What is Humidity?

Humidity is the amount of water vapour in the air. An environment that has a lot of water vapour in the air has high humidity. Low humidity is air with little water vapour. Higher humidity creates the feeling of the air being “wet and sticky”, like many warm tropical locations. 

How Humidity is Measured

For most purposes, humidity is expressed as relative humidity. Relative humidity is a measure of water vapour in the air compared to the maximum saturation level of the air at a given temperature. 100% humidity means that clouds have formed and rain is probable. We’ll use relative humidity (as a %) to describe ideal conditions for your home.

Humidity in Southern Alberta

Humidity in Alberta varies across the province but most of southern Alberta is classified as semi-arid or humid continental, which means it is drier than many other climates in Canada. Alberta experiences hot dry summers and very cold winters, which means humidity levels can swing between seasons.

Is There Such a Thing as Perfect Humidity?

The perfect relative humidity might be a little different for everybody, but some guidelines give us a range of what is good for your home’s air. Health Canada recommends keeping moisture levels at 30-55% in the winter. This number increases during the summer months.

A range between 40-60% is a safe and comfortable average relative humidity in your home. Humidity may change season to season and with Alberta’s crazy weather patterns. But keeping humidity regulated in this range will help you feel better and keep your home protected from damage.

Direct Benefits of Ideal Humidity

Ideal humidity has some direct benefits for our health, simply because of the way our bodies react with air moisture. When humidity conditions are too low, less than 30%, you may experience:

  • Dry irritated eyes
  • Dry throat
  • Chronic snoring 
  • Bleeding noses
  • Skin irritations, like eczema

Very high humidity, over 60%, can make it difficult for the air to absorb your sweat because it is already too saturated with water. This makes you feel hotter. Most people feel comfortable between 40-60%.

Indirect Benefits of Ideal Humidity

Humidity affects the overall air quality of an environment. Moulds, mites, and fungi can all thrive when humidity levels are not ideal. A midrange humidity of 40-60% is most lethal to nonpathogenic bacteria.

When humidity is too high (above 60%), mites multiply and most fungi can prosper. This lowers air quality and can have negative effects on people with allergies or asthma. When humidity is too low  (below 30%), it is easier for airborne viruses such as influenza and measles to survive. Humidity-related air quality concerns can be mitigated with in-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers.    

Benefits for Your Home

Beyond the benefits for your health, the right humidity levels will help preserve your home. Very dry air can warp wood furniture, artwork, and even your floors. Hardwood floors are especially susceptible to dry conditions. Door frames and window sills can shift when the air is too dry in your home. 

Excessive humidity in your home will lead to mould. When left untreated, it can begin to rot the structural components of your house. Humidity above 60% will lead to painted walls flaking and peeling and can have a negative aesthetic on wallpapers and other finishes. 

A hygrometer, used to measure the humidity in a home sitting on a wooden surface

How to Maintain Ideal Humidity

If you are unsure what the humidity in your home is, you can measure it with a hygrometer. Hygrometers are available at most home improvement stores and simple residential models are generally affordable.

If your home’s humidity is too high or low, don’t panic! There are almost always options available to get your home’s air into the ideal humidity range of 40-60%. A consultation with air quality professionals will let you know how to improve humidity conditions at home.

Humidifiers

Humidifiers work by adding water vapour to the air into a controlled environment (your home) to increase humidity.  Humidifiers can be centrally located like a furnace, or act as individual units in a smaller space. Most central systems have built-in hygrometers that can increase humidity when low levels are detected. Humidifiers are common in Alberta.

Dehumidifiers

These machines do the opposite of humidifiers, they take moisture out of the air. Dehumidifiers use condensation to draw water out of the air and replenish your rooms with drier air. Even in Calgary, some homes require a dehumidifier. Typical areas of high moisture include kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. 

HRV

HRVs are heat recovery ventilators and they help maintain ideal humidity in your home. HRVs allow fresh air to enter your home without losing heat or energy. HRVs are great for regulating humidity in newly built homes and preventing your home from drying out in the winter.  

Air Filters & Air Purifiers

While air filters and air purifiers don’t do a lot to change the humidity levels of your home, they do act in complement to provide better breathing air. Even when you maintain relative humidity between 40-60% there are some impurities in the air. Filters and purifiers can help keep you breathing clean.

Have a Happy Humid Home

Happy humidity at home is humidity that ranges between 40-60%. Most people feel physically comfortable when relative humidity sits in this range. There are also health benefits that come about with ideal humidity in your home.

Keeping up with seasonal changes in Calgary can be a challenge, for both our bodies and our HVAC systems. But installing and maintaining humidifiers that will keep you and your family comfortable is easy. Just get in touch with Ace Plumbing for expert air advice!

Written by Jack Devetten

The company was built on dedication to quality services, skilled and experienced technicians, and competitive prices. Our owner, Jack Devetten, brings more than 45 years of experience with him. All our staff members are focused on delivering 100% satisfaction on every job they do – we guarantee it!
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