Adding humidity to a home in winter can help to decrease the amount of dry air that generally circulates in the home. But do you really want your home to feel like a sauna in the middle of winter? That is not the best scenario and here is why. Indoor mold will grow under the right conditions, and will only grow if the conditions are perfect. It needs water, food and a sustainable indoor humidity to start making mold spores like nobody’s business. Of course, homeowners can stop water from coming into the home by repairing leaks and monitoring damp conditions. But have we also forgotten about the humidity factor? Maybe we have missed the memo on this important ingredient to molds growing in the home.
Humidity in the home is a constant problem for homeowners. If the humidity is too low, family members can experience dry or cracking skin, or even nosebleeds from breathing in dry air. If the humidity is too high, it can tip the scale and up the ante on encouraging mold production in the home environment.
High humidity in the home can create one or more of the following conditions:
• Musty, rank odors in the home, basement, attic or crawlspace
• Allergic reactions in family members
• Bowed, warped or shifting wood floor boards or flooring
• Surfaces that feel sticky
• Air that seems heavy, muggy or dense in the home
• Blistering or peeling paint or wallpaper in bathroom or kitchen areas
• Visible signs of mold growing and spreading in the home on walls, ceilings and in corners.
Indoor air environments in homes should have clean and fresh air, and have the proper humidity to keep the home inhabitants comfortable in the living spaces. If a home has less than 50% relative humidity, it will be generally a comfortable living environment, but will also offer a chance for molds to grow. Now, it is recommended that homes have optimum humidity levels between 30-50% (and lower at 30-40% in the winter months) to maintain comfort levels, and to prevent the spread of molds in the living environments.
Molds can feed on organic matter such as dust, wood or food sources. Additionally, if mold is growing in the home, insects may be attracted into the home to feed on and eat the mold spores as a food source. The byproduct of insect wastes could combine with the mold to form complex toxins, that are dangerous to human health. This cycle of mold and insects in the home can be stopped before it starts, by just lowering the humidity levels in the home. Some strategies to lower humidity are to:
• Take timed shorter showers
• Use a dehumidifier in high humidity areas of the home.
• Ventilate humid air from inside to the outside in laundry rooms and bathrooms
• Use fans even in the winter months to move air around in the rooms to create the most comfortable environment.