Achiev­ing the right bal­ance of in-home hu­mid­ity

The Telegram (St. John’s) - Home Buyers' Guide - - NEWS -

We all need a cer­tain amount of hu­mid­ity in­side our homes for com­fort and health rea­sons. Too lit­tle hu­mid­ity can lead to oc­cu­pant com­plaints while too much hu­mid­ity can re­sult in prob­lems rang­ing from con­den­sa­tion on win­dows to mold grow­ing on sur­faces. Mold can cause vary­ing ef­fects, from mi­nor ir­ri­ta­tion to al­ler­gic re­ac­tions and ill­ness.

The most re­li­able way to mea­sure the hu­mid­ity in your home is with a hy­grom­e­ter – a small, in­ex­pen­sive and easy-to-use tool avail­able at most hard­ware, depart­ment, build­ing sup­ply and elec­tron­ics stores. In gen­eral, your in­door RH (or Rel­a­tive Hu­mid­ity) should drop to about 30 per cent in very cold weather.

If your house is too dry dur­ing the win­ter, it’s prob­a­bly leak­ing too much air. To seal your home, con­tact your lo­cal Nat­u­ral Re­sources Canada (NRCan) of­fice to ar­range to have a qual­i­fied En­erGuide for Houses in­spec­tor test your house, and then fol­low his or her ad­vice to make your home more com­fort­able and ef­fi­cient. To find an NRCan of­fice near you, visit their web­site at www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca

If your house is too damp in the win­ter or there is ex­ces­sive con­den­sa­tion on the win­dows, Canada Mort­gage and Hous­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (CMHC) has a num­ber of prac­ti­cal tips you can use to help solve hu­mid­ity has­sles, in­clud­ing:

• Iden­tify ex­ces­sive sources of mois­ture, such as a leaky or damp base­ment or a crawlspace with an earth floor. If you do lo­cate a source of mois­ture, fix it as soon as pos­si­ble be­fore the cold­est weather sets in.

• Run your bath­room fan dur­ing your shower and for 15 min­utes af­ter, and use a vented range hood while cook­ing. Con­sider re­plac­ing noisy or in­ef­fi­cient bath­room fans with a small, quiet and en­ergy-ef­fi­cient model that can run al­most un­no­ticed, while also sav­ing you money.

• Adopt prac­tices that help dry the house, such as hang­ing clothes to dry out­side rather than in­side, us­ing a vented clothes dryer, stor­ing fire­wood out­side and us­ing a de­hu­mid­i­fier in the base­ment dur­ing the sum­mer months to fall.

• You may need to raise the tem­per­a­ture you keep your house. Cold sur­faces in un­heated or poorly heated spa­ces are prone to con­den­sa­tion.

• If your house is still damp, it means a ma­jor source of mois­ture has not been cor­rected. Try in­creas­ing the ven­ti­la­tion by leav­ing a bath­room fan run­ning, and then check your hy­grom­e­ter in a cou­ple of days to see if the rel­a­tive hu­mid­ity has gone down.

•Fi­nally, for some homes, in­stalling a heat re­cov­ery ven­ti­la­tor (HRV) can also be a good so­lu­tion for win­ter damp­ness. While the in­stal­la­tion costs for an HRV will be higher, they can also re­sult in sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings over the long run.

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