Homeowners have a lot to think about during the summer, like securing the house when leaving for vacation, tackling household projects, and keeping the place cool and comfortable on hot and muggy days. One concern that may not be top of mind is indoor air quality, which can worsen during the summer due to common issues like excess moisture and mold growth. Fortunately, humidifiers and/or dehumidifiers help improve indoor air quality.
Poor indoor air quality can lead to a variety of health issues, ranging from irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, to aggravating conditions like asthma and lung disease. One simple solution to improve indoor air quality is to control the humidity levels inside your home with the help of a humidifier and/or dehumidifier. Learn more about indoor air quality and how A. Johnson helps homeowners in the Capital District improve indoor air quality below.
What is Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor air quality “refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Air quality deteriorates with the presence of air pollutants like dust, dust mites, mold, pet dander, and any outside air pollution that makes its way in through cracks, open windows, or doors. The high temperatures and humidity of summer can increase the concentration of some of these indoor air pollutants.
Research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, so it is crucial to improve indoor air quality when (or even before) health and comfort issues arise.
Health Hazards Posed by Poor Indoor Air Quality
The health hazards brought on by poor indoor air quality can appear within minutes of being exposed to air pollution; others may show up years later after repeated exposure.
According to the EPA, short-term health effects include:
- Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
- Worsened or aggravated chronic respiratory conditions like asthma.
Long-term health problems caused by poor indoor air quality include:
- Some respiratory diseases
- Heart disease
Thus, it is wise to do what you can to improve indoor air quality now, as long-term health effects may lie dormant until years later, and have the potential to become severely debilitating – or even fatal.
Relative Humidity and Indoor Air Quality
There are plenty of ways to improve indoor air quality – some as simple as cleaning our home and others as comprehensive as air purification to duct cleaning. Among these solutions is monitoring the humidity levels within the home, to tamp down on indoor air pollutants like mold and dust mites.
As such, homeowners interested in monitoring and controlling the humidity levels within their home, year-round, should consider investing in a humidifier or dehumidifier. Whether you need a humidifier or a dehumidifier depends on the relative humidity of your home. Relative humidity measures “how much water vapor is in the air in relation to the moisture capacity of the air at a specific temperature,” according to Householdme. The ideal relative humidity level in a home ranges from 30 to 50 percent.
Dry, stuffy rooms, electrical shocks from carpeting, and even chipped all point to low relative humidity, meaning the air is too dry. The smell of mildew, the sight of mold, and condensation buildup are all signs of high relative humidity, meaning there is excess moisture in the air. Both issues contribute to poor indoor air quality and can cause health problems like congestion, itchy skin, and nosebleeds (low relative humidity), and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, and aggravation of chronic conditions like asthma (high relative humidity).
If you’re dealing with low relative humidity – typically more likely during the winter – you’ll need a humidifier to increase humidity in a room. If high relative humidity is the problem – more common during the summer –then a dehumidifier is necessary to decrease humidity.
Though some signs of low or high relative humidity may be obvious, homeowners can confirm their homes humidity levels with a tool called a hygrometer. A hygrometer looks similar to a thermometer, and measures the amount of water vapor in the air.
How Do Humidifiers/Dehumidifiers Improve Indoor Air Quality?
Depending on your home’s humidity level, humidifiers and dehumidifiers work by either adding moisture to the air or removing excess moisture from the air, according to Householdme.
A humidifier is built with a water reservoir, and uses that water to produce a mist to inject the air with more moisture. The mist makes its way through the room, normalizing the level of relative humidity.
A dehumidifier, on the other hand, pulls in air and extracts the airs excess moisture, which is deposited into the dehumidifier’s tank. Then, it pushes the air – now dry – back into the room.
No matter what time of the year it is – whether it’s a cold, harsh, dry winter or a humid, muggy summer – these tools can improve air quality at all times.
Not sure how to gauge the humidity level in your home? At A. Johnson, our expert technicians understand exactly how to adjust humidity levels through the use of humidifiers and dehumidifiers to improve your comfort and help you breathe easier. We work with a variety of homes and install humidifiers and/or dehumidifiers that make the most impact on your health and improve indoor air quality. Contact us today to discuss how we can help.