You don’t need to live in a tropical area to experience high humidity. Even Midwest communities go through a season of hot, humid weather. We come to expect that minor discomfort a little during the summer. But high humidity inside your home can be a breeding ground for health issues, as well as structural problems for your home.
Ideal Year-Round Humidity Levels
You may have noticed a few things when the humidity is high. The basement or crawl space has a musty smell, surfaces may be sticky even though they are clean, windows and other hard surfaces may have condensation, and wood becomes warped or wallpaper peels. Think of a small bathroom after someone has taken a hot shower with no external ventilation. When that environment exists everywhere in the home, it’s bad for the house.
Healthy indoor air is fresh, free from airborne toxins, and at a relative humidity of less than 50 percent. A range of 30-40 percent is ideal. An indoor humidity monitor can help identify seasonal changes that may require extra attention. And a dehumidifier can help remove excessive moisture from the air.
Humidity Problems in the Home
Flooding or poor groundwater flow can cause hidden water seepage. If the water table is higher than your basement or crawl space, the water will continue to flow to the lowest point. It may not be enough to puddle on your basement floor, but the frequent dampness of basement walls can lead to other structural issues over time.
These high humidity levels can cause mold spores to grow anywhere in your home. They attack the surfaces that make it easy for them to grow, such as drywall, wood, and carpeting. You may not notice a mold problem until it has grown and spread, requiring specialized care.
Even though some homeowners add humidity during the cold winter months, the basement may still need a dehumidifier if outside water conditions have affected the foundation in the past.
How Dehumidifiers Help Reduce Mold
A dehumidifier, on a basic level, is like a reverse-vacuum for the air. It sucks in the air, usually through a cooling grill, filters out moisture, and blows dry air back into the room. The filtered moisture is collected in a holding tank, to be emptied regularly, or passed through an external hose that drains the water away. It is this continuous moisture removal that helps reduce the potential for mold growth inside a room.
There are many types and sizes of dehumidifiers, ranging from whole-house units, those that are part of an existing HVAC system, or portable room units. Understand the capacity of the unit so that it can adequately keep the moisture level less than 50 percent.
Portable units that have a holding tank for the water need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly. The constant moisture contained inside can be an ideal location for mold spores, which are then blown into the air through the evaporation process.
What to Do if You Suspect Indoor Mold
If you notice a water problem or suspect a mold or mildew issue inside your home, it’s best to test the indoor air quality as well as the moisture level inside walls and floors. Have a professional assess your home and determine the right protocol for removal.
When mold is present, improper cleaning can cause the mold spores to spread further, making the problem worse. Please call ServiceMaster to get skilled, professional services related to mold removal in your home.