Humid or not?
High indoor humidity can create unpleasant living conditions and also damage property. Simply defined, humidity is the concentration of water vapor in the air. Relative humidity, on the other hand, is a measure of the amount of water in the wait compared to the maximum amount of water vapor it can hold. If the relative humidity figure shows 100%, the air will not be able to hold any more moisture and it will start to rain. The ideal humidity level should be a percentage that varies between 30 to 60%.
So what are the pitfalls of having more humidity than required?
A rise in humidity levels in the home creates the perfect habitat for microscopic fungi to grow and thrive. These fungi already coexist all around us but make use of the damp sections of the home to settle on surfaces and grow. An example of this is the mildew that you can see as white or gray patches on shower curtains, windowsills, or tiles whereas black and dark green patches is an example of mold that usually penetrates deeper into building materials. If mold is not controlled in due time, it can cause health issues such as asthma in children and trigger allergies as well. Because mold has digestive capabilities, it gradually destroys the things it thrives on such as soft furnishings, books, carpets or soft toys. In more serious cases, it will weaken ceilings or walls so the structural integrity of a building is compromised.
Another sign that your home is more humid than the stipulated level is flaky paint or curling wallpaper. If you paint over the flaked paint or cover up the wall with another wallpaper then you’re simply masking the problem without taking care of it entirely and that will only aggravate the situation in the long run.
Excess indoor moisture can also damage wood through strains, growths and serious decay. Placing furniture close to the walls means it will be at a higher risk for the damp to set in. In the long run, excess humidity will irreversibly damage hardwood floors, window-frames and other wooden fittings. Also, frequent changes in the moisture content in plaster, joints or studs causes the materials to swell or contract, which in turn, can lead to cracks and potentially expensive repairs.
To prevent problems associated with humidity, check your roof and brick work, especially during the monsoon season or after winter storms. Make sure your rooms are well ventilated and the air conditioning is working properly. You can also try to maintain a constant room temperature even if that means turning down the thermostat a little. Wet clothes are best dried outside and not indoors. Air quality monitors will alert you to potential problems.
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