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When you hear me say, "Water always wins," I am usually talking about roof leaks, overflowing toilets or sump-pump malfunctions. But another water-based issue around your home that is less visible is humidity.
Whether it is summer or winter, the proper amount of humidity in the home is vital to ensure your indoor air quality and comfort. While humidity doesn't show itself the way a leak does, there will be telltale signs such as condensation on windows in the winter or sweating toilet tanks in the summer that indicate a need to get your humidity levels under control.
While we can't control the outdoor humidity levels, your air-conditioning system is designed to keep the proper humidity level in the home by first dehumidifying the indoor air before reducing the air temperature. When the humidity inside your home is too high, the thermostat may say it is 72 degrees, but it will feel much warmer. Keep the humidity level in your home below 50 percent in the summer months to maximize your comfort.
Even homes with an air-conditioning system may need a little dehumidification help in certain areas, like the basement or crawl space. The best way to check the humidity level in the home is by using a hygrometer, which you can find at most hardware stores. If it registers too high in certain areas, you need to run a dehumidifier. Look for an Energy Star-rated, ultra-low-temperature dehumidifier. Some quality brands are DeLonghi, www.delonghiusa.com, and Whirlpool, www.whirlpool.com. If your bathroom gets really humid when you take a shower, try a DewStop exhaust fan switch, www.dewstop.com, designed to automatically control condensation.
While lowering humidity is the best way to stay cool in the summer, the reverse is true in the winter. While no one is thinking about winter right now, it won't be long before the furnace is cranking and your home is closed up tight. As a result, your home will feel as dry as the Arizona desert if you don't control the humidity levels.
Once again, it is best to keep your home's humidity level at 40-50 percent for ultimate comfort depending on the outdoor temperature. The proper humidity will make you feel warmer.
Those of us with forced-air furnaces have either a flow-through or drum-type whole-house humidifier. The advantage of whole-house humidification is that it continually monitors the relative humidity levels in your home and can be adjusted either manually or automatically.
If you're considering a new whole-house unit, one of the first places to start is the Humidity Calculator on the General Aire website, www.generalaire.com. This calculator enables you to determine the gallons per day of water you need to disperse through the humidifier to get your home to the proper humidity level based on its size and the temperature and humidity level you want.
They also manufacturer whole-house humidification systems for homes without duct work, called Elite Steam humidifiers. If you just want to add humidity to a room, there are plenty of quiet, warm mist-style room humidifiers available.
Proper humidity levels will increase your comfort and help save energy.
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, email email@example.com. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege personally, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The “Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations nationwide.
Note: This article was accurate at the date of publication. However, information contained in it may have changed.
If you plan to use the information contained herein for any purpose, verification of its continued accuracy is your responsibility.