Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds
Excess humidity in the home can lead to mould growth, premature wearing of structures and surfaces, and a variety of health issues. Properly insulating your home and tackling the sources of humidity are essential steps towards creating healthier air. Read on for our top tips on how to reduce humidity in your home!
- Sources of humidity
Different causes of humidity
Excess humidity in the home can be a real issue. Often appearing in the form of small droplets of water on walls and windows, an elevated humidity rate can lead to the development of mould on surfaces (walls, floors and furniture) and can create health problems. Homes that are properlyinsulated should not have any major humidity issues; those that are poorly insulated will be the worst affected.
Damp from the roof
Inadequate insulation in the roof of a house can lead to rainwater or melted snow infiltrating your home. The result: water in the walls, stains on the ceiling and mould.
Damp from the ground
When floor insulation is defective, moisture can seep in from the ground up. One way to spot this is to look for the appearance of mould between floor tiles or at the base of walls. In this case, you will have to ensure that the foundation of your home has proper drainage and install a damp-proof course or even dig a trench around the base of walls of older properties.
Damp in the walls
An extension of damp from the ground, damp walls are particularly noticeable on rendered or painted walls. Moisture may come from rainwater which hits off the wall and infiltrates the structure via small cracks. The presence of hygroscopic salts in large amounts may explain a particularly high humidity rate. To combat water in the walls, you will have to dig into soaked areas and inject a damp treatment. You will not solve the problem by covering it up!
Some materials are known to cause damp by reacting with other materials. A lot of materials used in older properties tend to hold water (such as render made from very alkaline cement). You will have to remove these elements to start drying out your walls properly.
Indoor condensation issues
Condensation in the home often appears in the form of water droplets on walls, windows and even furniture. This is caused by warm air that settles on cold surfaces and turns into water. The moist environment this creates can lead to mould growth which, in turn, can trigger respiratory problems or even aggravate joint pain!
Home insulation and heating
Poorly insulated homes contain points called thermal bridges. These are generally found around windows, patio doors, entryways and garage doorsat the meeting point between surfaces (e.g. roof/wall or wall/ground). The difference in temperature at these points leads to a build up of moisture and heat loss which, in turn, costs you money.
Heating a room allows you to get rid of some of the water held in the air;basically, turning on your heatingwill reduce the level of humidity. The ideal scenario would be to maintain a constant temperature of at least 19 degrees. If a room is not heated overnight, water vapour from your breath and the warmth of your body will cause water to settle on the windows and walls.
On the other hand, heating your home excessively will dry out the air and cause other issues such as drying of the mucus membranes, headaches, or throat irritation. Choosing the right heating system (e.g. boiler, electric radiators, a wood-burning stove, etc.) is therefore essential.
Air dehumidifiers: a handy solution
Air dehumidifiers draw in moist air from rooms in order to reduce the level of humidity. However, these can only be used for mild humidity issues. You should be aware that the use of an air dehumidifier alone will not be enough to fight developing or established humidity issues.
Finally, air dehumidifiers do not have any effect on the quality of the air. In other words, they do not make your air healthier to breathe. If you want to improve the quality of your air you will have to find the source of the humidity (groundwater, poor insulation, faulty heating, etc.) and think about setting up a a Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) system.PIV generally allows you to save on heating (by around 10%) as it is cheaper to heat healthy, dry air.
10 easy ways to prevent excess humidity
Fighting humidity comes down to a set of preventative measures.
- Air out your home twice a day to release warmer air and ventilate your bathroom after showering.
- Avoid organic paints which can encourage mould or even mould mites.
- Use your air conditioning system if you have one or install an air vent system.
- Set up a Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) system.
- Set up plans to reduce thermal bridging at doors and windows.
- Upgrade your electric radiators for greater energy efficiency.
- Lay a water-repellent seal over exterior joints.
- In the kitchen, cover up your pots and use your cooker hood every time you cook.
- Dry your laundry in a well ventilated room.
- In the wintertime, do not forget to air out your home in order to release any stale air!
Quick tip: when replacing your windows, choose double-glazed windows with a built-in trickle vent to limit condensation. Applying an anti-humidity paint is a good idea but treating the source of the humidity issue is even better.
Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds, 89 guides
With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral (yes, it is possible.), I learned the basics of DIY and the customization of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from sander to varnish. I have two favorite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the trash that will become a friend’s centerpiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications, I constantly research low-cost, test ideas.