Managing moisture in your home is key

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As humans, we’re constantly creating humidity and moisture. Every time we cook, clean, bathe, or even breathe, we’re adding more moisture to our homes. If it was built properly — your home will have methods for dealing with that excess moisture before problems start to build up. But what happens if your home can’t get rid of the excess? You’ll start to see issues with mould and mildew growth around your home.

SIGNS OF HIGH HUMIDITY

The ideal humidity level of your home varies depending on your climate and the time of year. That said, typically, you’re looking for humidity levels of about 30 per cent to 50 per cent. When the levels get too high, you’ll be able to see some side effects presenting in your home.

Look out for condensation on your windows, instances of bubbling paint on the walls, or hardwood floors that are beginning to buckle or swell. If the air feels stale, or the temperature in your home feels higher than it should this could also be a case of too much humidity. One of the biggest, and most notable symptoms of a house that’s too humid is visible mould — especially in your kitchens and bathrooms.

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If you don’t detect any signs, but are worried about the humidity level in your home, you can actually buy a moisture metre to measure the humidity level of your home.

KEEPING HUMIDITY AT BAY

Two of your biggest moisture-heavy areas are going to be your kitchen and your bathrooms. Cooking and bathing are huge contributors to overall humidity levels, so tackling moisture in these areas is key.

There’s a reason why these rooms have exhaust fans. Their role is to suck up all that excess moisture and vent it outdoors. The problem is, in some homes, these exhaust lines weren’t run properly and instead, dump all that moist air into the attic where it can wreak havoc on the insulation up there. Make sure those lines run properly, and work with an HVAC pro to reroute them if not.

Exhaust fans should be run for at least 30 minutes after cooking or showering to make sure all that moisture gets taken out. If the space has a window, you can crack it a few inches as well to promote a healthy air exchange.

Some homes may naturally create a lot of humidity and need a little extra help. In that case, a dehumidifier can help out in areas that are a little more humid, like a basement. It sucks in air through one end, strips it of the moisture, and blows it back out into the home. Just don’t forget to empty the tray.

PROMOTING GOOD VENTILATION

Newer homes are built to be much more airtight than they used to be. This is a good thing — but one question I keep getting from homeowners online is, “can a home be TOO airtight?” I get why I hear it — if a home can’t promote a healthy air exchange, you’re going to see that stale, humid air we create in our homes build up to harmful levels.

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I’d recommend for new homes to be built with a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), or even an energy recovery ventilator (ERV), as is code in Ontario. This is a component of your HVAC and its role is incredibly important. When it’s running, it will pull that moist, humid air that you create and exhaust it out of the home. At the same time, it will bring fresh air in from the outdoors. With an ERV, as the new air comes in and crosses paths with the stale air, there will be a heat transfer process so that the new air being pumped into your home is at a comfortable temperature.

Because of this process, HRVs and ERVs are valuable tools in creating an energy-efficient home. The work it does is necessary, and it needs to be running at all times to complete this process. Do not turn these units off or you will start seeing humidity levels rise.

To find out more about Mike Holmes, visit makeitright.ca

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