Low humidity can cause a number of irritations including dry skin and susceptibility to cold and flu germs. It can also damage your home, causing extra dust, cracks in wood floors and even ruined electrical equipment. High humidity, on the other hand, encourages the growth of fungus and mold – it can even promote bacteria and viruses.
Purchase a hygrometer. One of the easiest ways to test your home’s humidity level is to head to the drugstore and purchase a hygrometer or indoor humidity monitor. Place the small device in the room you want to test and follow the instructions. The hygrometer will show your home’s humidity level in a percentage. For most homes, the ideal humidity level is less than 60 percent during the summer, and 25-40 percent during the winter. Tip: If you just want a quick estimate of your humidity level based on your geographic location and central heating settings, use this tool from The Weather Channel.
Check for signs. If you don’t want to spring for a store-bought device, there are several telltale signs of humidity. If you’re getting shocked every time you touch a doorknob, or the water in a flower vase needs to be refilled every day, your home’s humidity is likely too low! If you see moisture on the inside of your windows, your indoor humidity is likely too high. Note: If the only window in your house with moisture is your bathroom window, the problem is likely related to the exhaust fan, not your home’s humidity level.
If your humidity level is too low: If the humidity level in your home is below 25 percent, it’s a good idea to purchase a humidifier for your home. You can find these at any store that sells home goods, and they cost anywhere from $20-$60, depending on the size and strength of the humidifier. If you don’t want to spring for a humidifier right now, distribute shallow dishes of water around your home. Tip: The best place to put the water is near radiators, heating vents or sunny windowsills. The heat helps the water evaporate, adding moisture to the air.
If your humidity level is too high: Reduce humidity created by indoor sources (like your washing machines, dryers and showers) by ventilating areas where water can easily accumulate. Improve the ventilation in your home by opening windows, using exhaust fans and leaving doors open throughout the house for better air circulation. If low-tech options don’t do the trick, consider using a dehumidifier to combat the problem. Note: If you discover that your indoor air is too humid, check areas prone to mold growth so that you can catch problems before they get out of control.