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Humidity In Winter

condensation on windows and walls can be an issue with too high humidity in winter

With winter now upon us, let’s take a minute to think about humidity in your home. Maintaining proper humidity levels during the cold months is more important than just comfort. Low humidity can cause things from annoying static electricity build-up to asthma attacks, but also having high humidity can cause a whole other mess of issues in your home.

Cold air has less capacity to contain water vapor than warm air. Heating your home reduces relative humidity. Breathing this dry air can wreak havoc inside your airways; mucous membranes dry out creating irritation and dryness in the nose and throat. Some say this lack of mucous can not only be very uncomfortable but can reduce your body’s ability to filter out viruses and other things that can make you more susceptible to illness.

On the flip side, keeping your home too humid in the winter can lead to other issues. When the indoor air is too humid it can cause condensation to form. The same way a cool beverage glass “sweats” when outdoors in the summer, condensation forms when warm humid air meets a very cold surface (i.e. a window in winter). This causes the vapor in the air to condense and form liquid water on these cool surfaces. In some cases condensation can also form on the drywall around the windows. It is not uncommon to see mold issues develop in homes with condensation issues. Dampness also can attract insects and other pests into the home.

We recommend that if you have a humidifier in your home to adjust it so that it is operating at the highest level without condensation. If you see liquid water, or sometimes even ice, on the inside of your windows, it is time to turn down the humidistat. To reduce condensation, it is also important to use an exhaust fan while showering or cooking on the stove.

Ian Cull

Ian Cull is a nationally recognized expert in the field of indoor air quality. He is the Chief Science Officer of Indoor Science, a company he started in 2004. He speaks around the world on air quality topics and is a training provider of the Indoor Air Quality Association. Mr. Cull is a Licensed Professional Engineer (PE) and Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). His degree is in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign. Mr. Cull has developed 50 air quality related courses for the IAQA University and is the author of the book, “Fundamentals of Mold Remediation”. In his words… “Besides being passionate about indoor air quality, I enjoy cycling, music, the Chicago Bulls, and having fun with my three kids.”