Monday, June 30, 2014

The Dangers of Humidity in Your Home

Humidity is constant during Minnesota summers - 83% on average! Besides making the outdoors a little unpleasant, humidity actually has dangerous implications for your home. In fact, the Smithsonian Institute cites changes in relative humidity as the number one cause of furniture damage! So what does humidity actually do that is so bad?

Wood Furniture: Unfortunately, your beautiful wood furniture likes to absorb and desorb water from the air when humidity fluctuates. This absorption causes problems because the wood expands and contracts with the fluctuations. Depending on the direction of the wood grain, the furniture will expand and contract differently, leaving things like drawers and doors warped.

Walls: Humidity is not a wall’s friend. Moisture in the air can be dangerous for walls because it can condense on the wall’s surface and cause stains, paint bubbling and mold - Yuck! Mold can be very dangerous causing problems from itching eyes, allergic reactions, coughing, sneezing and even be as serious as causing permanent lung damage.

Wallpapered walls are especially at risk for this kind of damage. Many wallpapers are made of vinyl which creates what is called a vapor layer that makes it basically impermeable to water. Because of this, water gets trapped between the wallpaper and the wall allowing mold to grow and the paper to bubble and peel.

Floors: Like all wood, wood floors can warp with changes in humidity, but carpet is also affected by excess moisture. Have you ever walked into a house and been hit with that damp musty smell? As with walls, the moisture in the air gets into your carpet and other fabrics and allows a great environment for mold to grow. Damp carpet is also perfect for humidity-loving dust mites.

While you can’t avoid humidity, you can protect your home from damage. One of the best ways to avoid this issue is simply limiting the fluctuation in relative humidity inside. When the temperature is lower, humidity is generally lower so using an air conditioner is the first defense against humidity damage.

If you have an air conditioner and the air in your home still feels damp, you can use a simple dehumidifier during the most humid months. A more high-tech option is using a humidistat which actually adjusts temperature to maintain a consistent relative humidity. After dehumidifying, if there is still that damp musty smell, consider sprinkling baking soda over the carpets and vacuuming it up. Baking soda is a deodorizer and can help eliminate the musty funk.

Good luck battling the humidity this summer and if you have an idea about protecting your home from humidity, leave us a comment!

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