Humidity and Indoor Air Quality
Maintaining a correct level of humidity in your home or business is essential to improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and to the overall health and comfort for you, your family and your home or business. The EPA suggests maintaining proper indoor Relative Humidity levels to reduce the effects of unwanted conditions associated with poor indoor air quality. What is a comfortable humidity level and why is proper humidity control essential? Keeping in mind that 0% is no moisture in the air and 100% is lots of moisture in the air, people tend to feel most comfortable in the area of 45% Relative Humidity. Humidifiers (winter) and Dehumidifiers (summer) are designed to keep indoor humidity at a comfortable level. Too much humidity can cause an increase in biological pollutants, like mold, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and dust mites that can trigger respiratory health ailments. Not enough humidity can lead to nosebleeds, itchy skin, difficulty breathing and damaging static electricity. In your home — wood furniture and flooring can dry out and warp with too little humidity. And with too much persistent humidity, mold and mildew can permanently damage your home leading to costly repairs.
To add humidity to your home or business (winter) a Central or Room Humidifier is needed. There are a large variety of humidifiers both central and room and how they add humidity to the air varies greatly. Some require and include a humidistat, others don’t. If you have a central Warm Air Heating System (Heat Pump, Gas/Oil/Coal Furnace) a central system is very common. Most of the central systems use steam (Heat Pump) or evaporative technology (Gas/Oil/Coal Furnace). A steam unit uses more electricity because it boils water and introduces humidity in the distribution system as steam. An evaporative unit passes warm air over a wet pad. Depending on the quality of your water yearly maintenance at least is required. Room Humidifiers use evaporative, steam or ultrasonic technology to introduce water into the air. A picture of a sculptured ultrasonic room humidifier that we sell at our store in Millheim is attached to this ad. This very quiet unit introduces a “cool mist” of water vapor into the air and is inexpensive to operate. Great for homes or businesses that don’t have a warm air ducted distribution system.
To remove humidity from your home or business (summer) a Central or Room Dehumidifier with included humidistat is needed. Both are readily available with a Room Humidifier being the most popular primarily due to cost and no installation required. Most all use the same electrical / mechanical principle and are relatively economical to operate. Very little maintenance is required. Be sure to size the unit to the square footage of the area you want to dehumidify. If you have an Air Conditioning System in your Home it will dehumidify as it cools; however, in the basement or ground floor, which is traditionally cool, you will still need a dehumidifier. Standard units remove moisture from an area efficiently when that area is at a temperature of 65F degrees or higher. If the area you want to dehumidify is colder then 65F a low temperature unit should be considered.
Humidity Control is an essential part of Good Indoor Air Quality. If you don’t currently have it in your Home or Business consider including Summer and Winter Humidity Control in your budget for 2017.
Curt Bierly is president of the bierly group incorporated of which Stanley C. Bierly is a division. He is chair of the Penn College HVAC Advisory Board. You can contact him at his business in Millheim (814-349-3000, cbierly@bierlygro