Think of the word “humidity” and your mind is most likely transported to far-away tropical lands filled with lush, dense rainforests.
And yet this atmospheric phenomenon can commonly be found wreaking havoc in UK households all year round as well.
High humidity in the home is caused by excess moisture in the air that’s unable to escape.
Contributing factors include cooking and showering, drying wet washing indoors, rainwater ingress, leaking pipes, and poor ventilation.
What is high humidity in a home?
We’re willing to bet that the words “Why is my house so humid?” have crossed many homeowner’s lips.
We’ll delve into the causes in more detail shortly, but first and foremost, it’s worth explaining just exactly what high humidity is.
Every home is different, but the ideal level of humidity tends to sit somewhere between 30% and 50%.
If your hygrometer – a relatively inexpensive device that can be bought online – ever reads higher than 60%, you’re officially in high humidity territory.
This is the ideal environment for mould and mildew to grow, and can lead to a raft of negative health consequences, including allergic reactions, skin infections and asthma.
Higher levels of humidity – as well as potentially causing wood rot, peeling paint, and yellow-brown staining on walls – also make it harder and more costly to heat your home; the last thing you want when energy bills are already on the rise.
5 causes of a humid home
- 1. Everyday activities.Cooking food or boiling water can increase the amount of water vapour in the air in your kitchen, while long, hot showers, or hot baths, will inevitably see humidity levels rise in the bathroom. Drying wet clothes indoors on radiators can also cause moisture to build in the home.
Keeping your property well ventilated, opening windows and doors, or installing extractor fans in your kitchen and/or bathroom will all help combat rising levels.
- 2. Plumbing leaks.Leaks from pipes, taps, or household appliances, like washing machines or dishwashers, is a very common source of increased moisture within properties.
When leaks are left unaddressed for long periods, this can increase the chance of mould, mildew, and musty odours in your home.
It’s important to regularly check rooms for signs of excess moisture, water ingress or leaking pipes. Common signs include yellow-brown stains on walls, rotting wood, warping wallpaper, or musty, damp smells.
Calling a professional plumber to help check the integrity of water pipes is often a good idea.
- 3. Moisture from the ground.You can experience increased moisture and humidity coming up from the ground underneath your home. This is known as ‘rising damp’. It can happen when groundwater or rainwater collects in the foundations beneath a property. Cellars or basements, which are poorly insulated, or lack proper ventilation, are a common source of rising damp.
Your property can also be at greater risk in areas that experience high levels of rainfall/flooding, or if your home has poor drainage.
To mitigate potential issues, check guttering and drainpipes are intact, free of debris or obstructions, and in proper working order.
This will ensure rainwater is collected and channelled away from your home, reducing the chance of water ingress or rising damp.
- 4. Poor ventilation.If your home is experiencing high levels of humidity, poor ventilation may be one of the causes. As we have already mentioned, all kinds of day-to-day activities can increase the levels of moisture in your home, from cooking and cleaning to bathing and drying clothes.
If there is no way for this moisture to escape – like through an extractor fan – problems with condensation, damp, and mould will be just around the corner.
- 5. Cold, damp homes.Condensation occurs when hot, moist air comes into contact with cold surfaces i.e. windows or external walls. This is more likely to happen if you are not using your central heating properly. Turning on radiators in cold rooms should help reduce the build-up of condensation as the rise in temperature will aid air circulation.
What happens if I ignore humidity levels?
If left unchecked, excess moisture in the air can prove problematic for homes and health.
It can damage furniture, wallpaper, paintwork, and brickwork. It can cause respiratory problems, and trigger asthma flare-ups.
We know that cooking, cleaning, and showering are all necessities within any household, so it is vital you focus on how best to prevent high humidity in the home.
Keep doors and windows open, and try to reduce the source of excess moisture by drying clothes outside as well as fitting extractor fans in rooms like your bathroom and kitchen.
Using your central heating can also help combat condensation, and for extra excess moisture protection, try placing dehumidifiers in any rooms with high levels of humidity.
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