The “Sun Country” area of greater Las Vegas is famous for its summer “dry heat.” Residents know that doesn’t mean we’re free from health and comfort concerns due to humidity, however.
Image via Flickr by zenjazzygeek
3 Tips for Balanced Air
To help your residence be a year-round refuge, here are three tips to promote balanced indoor air:
1. Understand how Humidity Affects Family Health
Homes in hot areas face issues due to relative humidity, or the amount of water in the air relative to the temperature. Absolute humidity, or the amount of water vapor in a specific amount of air, is used to predict the weather. Summer indoor air is cooler than outdoors, so the same amount of humidity would cause drastically higher relative humidity levels.
Experts state that ideal indoor relative humidity should stay between 30 percent and 50 percent. Anything lower or higher can affect family health. Low relative humidity levels cause dry skin and eyes and even allow some viruses to grow rapidly. Lower levels are harder for people to notice and are often only addressed after someone in the family starts having respiratory issues.
The growth of mold is a well-known risk of high relative humidity. Mites and mildew can also thrive. Humid indoor environments can also experience physical damage to a home’s wooden structure and trim.
2. Monitor Indoor Humidity Levels
Some effects of unbalanced indoor air quality can be spotted by the naked eye: warping wooden features, walls or windows with moisture droplets, peeling paint, or visible mold. The smells of damp or musty air in a basement or coming from the HVAC unit are also signs of high indoor humidity. And if the mold damage gets too bad within the house, do consider getting yourself some products for cleaning mold to mitigate the cause of it.
Low relative humidity is harder to identify. If your laundry has excess static electricity or you get little “shocks” when scooting across the carpet, these are possible concerns. Unfortunately, other signs usually are decreased health.
Weather station devices at a home store will provide some insight, but the risks to your family are too high to leave to cheap electronics. The most reliable way to monitor indoor humidity is to schedule an indoor air quality inspection with a licensed HVAC specialist.
3. Add or Reduce Humidity to Indoor Air
To balance indoor home air, either add or reduce humidity in order to reach the target range of 30 to 50 percent. Home stores sell one-room or multi-room sized versions of both humidifiers and dehumidifiers. Whole-house solutions are also available, though these should be installed by a professional.
Before adding any equipment, it’s important to check for air leaks. Make it part of your annual home maintenance routine to visually inspect the weather seals on your doors and windows, as well as indoor and outdoor caulking.
Another simple humidity fix is to be aware of ventilation. Check that your stove hood vents outside properly and that every household member runs the bathroom exhaust fan after a shower or bath. These daily decisions all contribute to the balance of relative humidity and indoor air quality.
Like most Las Vegas-area families, you have enough to keep track of at home. Monitoring and adjusting home humidity can take more time than you have to give. Partner with an HVAC professional to schedule an indoor air quality inspection. Your family health is worth it!