How to Manage Humidity in Your Home this Summer

High outdoor humidity is a fact of life during summer in many locales. Often, it doesn’t stay outdoors. In addition to being a source of discomfort to occupants, persistent indoor humidity degrades building materials and triggers growth of toxic mold. Because your air conditioner runs longer to maintain indoor comfort when humidity is high, monthly cooling costs are also elevated.

How High Is Too High?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends maintaining the indoor humidity level at a range of 50% to 60%. During summer, most locations in the U.S. exceed that level in either morning or afternoon measurements. Therefore, special effort is required to keep the indoor environment less humid than outdoors. Here are some things you can do to reduce excessive humidity in the house this summer:

  • Maintain the air conditioner. Indoor humidity control is an important function of the air conditioning process. Dry air cools more efficiently than humid air. Schedule annual professional A/C maintenance including servicing the indoor evaporator coil that extracts water vapor from air and checking refrigerant charge to ensure optimum humidity reduction. Also, change the air filter monthly to keep system airflow up to specs.
  • Air seal the house. Outdoor humidity naturally migrates into drier zones indoors. Small cracks and gaps in the structure of the house allow humid air to leak into the interior and raise indoor levels. Check the weatherstripping around doors and windows and replace if its worn or missing. Look for cracks in the structure around exterior walls and gaps along the baseboard; seal with silicone caulking.
  • Exhaust humid rooms. High levels of water vapor in kitchen and bathrooms are common and should be controlled with ceiling exhaust fans. Make sure the fan exhaust duct extends all the way to the exterior of the house, not just into the attic.
  • Install a whole-house dehumidifier. These units, connected to your central HVAC ductwork, automatically extract water vapor from the system airflow to keep indoor humidity levels at the desired setting. All air circulating through the entire house is continuously dehumidified as long as the system is running.

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