What Is Relative Humidity And Why Does It Matter?
As a basement waterproofing and foundation repair company, one of the most important things we need to talk about with our customers is relative humidity. This can be a tricky concept to understand, but it's crucial for maintaining a healthy and dry home. So, what exactly is relative humidity, and why does it matter?
Simply put, relative humidity is the amount of moisture that's in the air, compared to the maximum amount of moisture that the air could hold at a given temperature. I know, that was a bit technical. Keep reading and we are going to make this a little easier to understand.
The warmer the air is, the more moisture it can hold. So, if you have a glass of cold ice water out on a picnic table on a hot summer day, you might notice that water droplets start to form on the outside of the glass. Over time, you get a water ring on the table. But where did that water come from? The glass is not leaking, yet you have a water ring on the table. But why? This is because the cold water made the glass itself cold. The glass is cooling the air immediately around it, causing the moisture in the air to condense and form droplets on the glass. The air that touches the outside of the glass drops in temperature because the glass is cold. As air gets colder it can’t hold as much water and some falls out. Imagine it like this, as air is cooled it is like ringing out a wet towel…some moisture comes out. The wetter the air (high relative humidity) the more water that comes out. This causes the water to condense on the glass in the form of a droplet. This is an example of how relative humidity works.
When it comes to our homes, high relative humidity can be a problem. A big one, actually. When the air in our homes is too humid, it can cause all sorts of issues. For one thing, it can make us feel uncomfortable and sticky. But more importantly, high humidity can lead to mold growth, which can be dangerous to our health. Dust mites and other pests also thrive in humid environments. Wood rot is another problem from high humidity. Even worst, other pest, such as termites and spiders, need high humidity to exist. If you have pests in your basement, it is because your basement has optimal conditions for them. Dry out the basement air, and most of the pests will go on their own. They need the moisture in the air to survive.
Excess humidity in a home can lead to several health-related issues and costly energy bills. High levels of humidity can cause discomfort, especially during the summer months when temperatures are high. Additionally, high humidity levels can exacerbate respiratory problems, such as asthma and allergies. The moisture in the air can cause mold and dust mites to grow, leading to allergic reactions and asthma issues. Moreover, when there is a lot of moisture in the air it costs much more to heat and cool that air, resulting in higher energy costs.
So, how can we tell if the relative humidity in our home is too high? One way is to use a tool called a hygrometer, which measures the moisture in the air. Generally speaking, a relative humidity level between 30% and 50% is ideal for most homes. If the level is above 55%, it's time to start thinking about ways to reduce the humidity.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help keep the relative humidity in your home under control. One of the easiest is to use a Sedona Basement Air Machine. Unlike a traditional dehumidifier, which is rated for 80-degree lab conditions that do not exist in the real world, the Sedona is intended for cooler subterranean spaces. This is a machine that pulls moisture out of the air and automatically drains it without you needing to do anything.
Another thing to keep in mind is that water can enter your home through a variety of ways, such as through leaks in your foundation or pipes, or even just from the soil surrounding your home. Poor insulation and air leaks can be another issue to keep in mind. If you notice water in your basement or crawl space, it's important to address the issue as soon as possible. Waterproofing your basement or crawlspace can help keep water out and prevent the growth of mold and other harmful organisms. If you are unsure of the cause of high humidity, consider scheduling a professional inspection to determine the cause(s).
In summary, relative humidity is the amount of moisture in the air compared to the maximum amount of moisture the air could hold at a given temperature. High humidity levels can lead to mold growth, pest infestations, and uncomfortable living conditions. Using a hygrometer and a dehumidifier, along with waterproofing your basement, can help keep humidity levels in check and keep your home safe and healthy.