Did you know that germs, mold and dust-mite infestation are made worse by humid indoor conditions? It’s unfortunate, but indoor air is on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of Top Five Environmental Health Threats in the nation. They recommend keeping indoor humidity between 30 and 50 percent, as this is most comfortable for homeowners and is not conducive to microorganism growth. But because the relative humidity in the Tampa Bay area regularly exceeds these recommended levels, humidity control is essential to maintaining healthy indoor environments in our area.
How do you know if you need humidity control? You can use a hygrometer to measure the moisture content of your air, or look for some of these symptoms:
- Mold or mildew growing anywhere in the home, including pipes and HVAC equipment
- Musty odors in certain rooms, or from registers
- Condensation on windows, pipes or surfaces
- Peeling or bubbling paint and wallpaper
- Water marks on ceilings, walls or floors
- A “muggy” or “sticky” sensation that may cause you to lower your thermostat
- Ongoing health issues, such as allergic reactions, respiratory conditions, asthma, skin irritations, and chronic lethargy
Your air conditioner removes a certain amount of moisture from your indoor air, but isn’t designed for optimum humidity control. For that, you need a dehumidification system. Whole-house dehumidifiers remove water from indoor air, sometimes at the rate of 15 gallons per day. They conveniently work with your HVAC system and pump collected water outside, so you don’t have to worry about emptying the tank. If you have a whole-house dehumidification system already in place, you could consider getting it professionally upgraded to a variable-speed dehumidification system, which is more efficient than the single-speed systems commonly found in most dehumidification systems.
Portable dehumidifiers address particularly troublesome spots, such as bathrooms and kitchens, and can be moved from room to room as needed. However, they require more maintenance than whole-house systems, and are less effective at dealing with large quantities of moisture.
Humidity control is the strongest weapon Tampa Bay homeowners have against the dangers posed by mold and microorganisms. And your health isn’t the only thing at risk: The materials and furniture in your house will warp and expand due to the excess moisture in the air, which can lead to serious structural damage and rot