Humidity keeps your skin moisturized, minimizes the spread of airborne illnesses, and is important to your overall health. It’s also critical to your home’s health. But when moisture trapped in your apartment causes the air to become wetter, humidity rises, making the space feel hot and sticky.
When humidity levels dip too low, your furniture and entire house suffer because certain germs thrive. High humidity happens when your apartment retains moisture and doesn’t allow it to get out. It can cause mold and mildew, intensify allergens, and keep you from getting proper sleep.
High humidity can also cause heat exhaustion, making your apartment an uncomfortable place to live in. Let’s look at the causes of humidity and how to tackle it and improve your home’s air quality.
What Causes Humidity in a House?
Increased humidity occurs when moisture is trapped in your apartment and can’t get out. As humidity rises, it causes the air to become wetter, which makes the apartment feel hot and sticky. Identifying the cause of the high humidity in your apartment is the first step to dealing with it. High humidity levels can have many causes, some easier to fix than others:
Adequate ventilation can control your apartment’s humidity level, ultimately impacting your health and the home’s structural integrity. Poor ventilation means maintaining a proper level of airflow, which helps counteract the moisture released when you perform common activities such as cooking.
A poor ventilation system allows moisture to remain in the house because it doesn’t circulate the air back outside. This increases the humidity levels in your home. Poor ventilation may result from insufficient windows, a lack of fans, or an air conditioner that’s not working optimally.
Simple, everyday activities you perform daily can naturally increase moisture in the air, raising humidity levels. Activities such as cleaning the dishes, or running the dishwasher, add water vapor to your kitchen’s air.
Cleaning rooms without windows, taking long, hot showers, can also increase moisture in your apartment. The more people your apartment has, the higher the moisture generated from body heat, sweating, or breathing hard from exercise.
Leaks in the House
Leaks, cracks, or windows that don’t seal completely can bring exterior moisture into your apartment. Minor breaks in the seal in missing shingles, cracked pipes, or loose fittings can also increase humidity.
Interior plumbing leaks from your kitchen sink or bathroom can also increase moisture in the air. Small leaks that go unnoticed can wreak havoc in your apartment. Insulate your pipes to prevent excessive moisture and condensation from spreading to nearby surfaces or areas.
Rising damp is a condition that occurs when excess moisture from the ground rises up through small holes into your apartment. Moisture can penetrate the house from the soil underneath your home’s foundation, sometimes up to the third floor.
Ineffective grading can cause rising damp because it allows rain or groundwater to accumulate in the home’s foundation. Since basements often have poor insulation and don’t have windows, they can be humid or compound any humidity issues in your home.
What Humidity Level Is Uncomfortable?
According to Energy Star, the ideal humidity levels in your apartment should be in the range of 30%-50%. This humidity level can promote better sleep, banish allergens, and is easier on your respiratory system, and overall well-being.
Anything under 30% is too dry, while temperatures higher than 50% are a sign of high humidity. But your home’s humidity may change based on seasonality. During summer, you may experience high humidity levels, which reduce in winter.
How to Reduce Humidity in a Room Naturally
Reducing humidity naturally helps you cut costs linked to fans, an air conditioner, or a dehumidifier. Here’s how to do it:
Areas of your home, such as the kitchen or bathroom, are prone to retaining moisture because you use plenty of water and heat. Opening your windows gets rid of stale air, lets natural airflow circulate freely, and keeps your apartment well ventilated.
Open the window in your bathroom during or after your shower to prevent moisture from becoming trapped in your apartment. Replace worn out or drafty windows and doors to eliminate moisture buildup that can increase humidity.
Reduce Indoor Plants
By nature, indoor houseplants absorb water and release vapor into the air, which raises the humidity in your apartment. The more plants you have, the more moisture you’re going to have. These solutions can help you reduce moisture generated from plants:
- Stop overwatering your plants
- Use a plastic vapor barrier to cover the exposed soil on the plant
- Place your plants outdoors on the porch or patio, or in a better ventilated room
- Replace your plants with Boston ferns, which remove moisture from the air
- Give away some plants to family or friends
Dry Clothes Outdoors
If you don’t have an in-unit dryer and are drying your clothes indoors, it’s adding to your apartment’s humidity. Hanging your clothes on a rack, over the shower curtain bar, or on the back of a chair adds moisture to your home. If you have a clothes dryer, ensure vents outside.
If you can, move them outside to reduce humidity. Using a clothesline on your patio, porch, or backyard stops the water from wet clothes from evaporating into your apartment air, which increases humidity. Your clothes will also have that clothesline-fresh smell.
To prevent humidity from causing illnesses and making your home uncomfortable, reduce the moisture you allow into the air. There are many ways to do so, including:
- Cover your cooking pots: When you’re boiling water or cooking, cover the pots. This prevents steam from escaping, which increases moisture in the air.
- Wash dishes manually: Running the dishwasher creates a lot of steam, which raises humidity levels. Wash your dishes in the sink and turn off the water when you’re not rinsing.
- Take short or cold showers: Avoid or reduce those luxurious hot showers you’re used to. Excess steam from the warm water remains in the air and travels throughout your apartment, raising moisture levels. If the idea of a cold shower is unpleasant, spend less time in the shower.
How to Get Rid of Humidity in Apartment
There are many ways to eliminate humidity from your home, or at least decrease it. To systematically do so, follow these steps:
Check for Leaks
Checking your pipes regularly for cracks and corrosion can help you find a leak in its early stages. This can prevent water damage that may crease your home’s humidity. Some leaks are easier to spot than others, but the best thing to do is replace old or leaky pipes.
Signs of leaks include a dripping sound, wall discoloration, a musty smell, bubbling paint or wallpaper. Also, have a professional install awnings above your windows and doors.
If the area you live in often experiences excessive rain, ensure the gutters and downspouts work correctly. This way, they can direct rainwater away from the house, keeping moisture out.
Clean Your Rugs and Carpets
When it’s humid, it’s common for carpets and rugs to collect moisture, which increases humidity. If your rugs feel damp or smell moldy, dry-clean them. You can also clean your carpets professionally or replace them. Clean or new carpets reduce humidity and reduce dust mites that live in damp carpets.
A good, oscillating stand-up fan or ceiling fan can move stale warm air around your apartment and push humid air out, which lowers humidity. Using exhaust fans in the bathroom or kitchen can also get rid of excess moisture.
Consider sleeping with a fan on if your bedroom is humid, or let a fan run in the laundry room during and after cleaning. Do the same in the kitchen during cooking, especially if you’re boiling or steaming food.
If your bathroom has a fan or ventilation system, turn it on every time you run hot water for a bath or get in the shower to remove wet air from the room. Increasing airflow with fans removes excess moisture from the air by evaporating it through circulation.
Install an Air Conditioner
Installing a window or wall-mounted air conditioner is the quickest way to take care of heat and humidity problems simultaneously. Turning on the air conditioner may increase your electric bill, but it effectively reduces moisture in the home.
Clogged AC filters prevent efficient airflow in your apartment. Maintain your A/C unit regularly to keep it working optimally and significantly improve your home’s humidity.
To maintain excellent airflow, clean the AC vents and replace filters every 1 to 3 months. How often to replace filters depends on whether you have any pets, where you live, and how often you run the AC unit.
How to Reduce Humidity in House in Winter
You don’t have to struggle with humidity in the winter. These tips can help you manage or eliminate humidity:
- Set your thermostat to a higher-than-normal temperature, rather than turning off your A/C completely.
- Open your bedroom and bathroom doors to circulate air adequately throughout the home. You can also run a furnace fan continuously to circulate air between rooms.
- Open drapes and blinds overnight if possible. Wipe away any condensation on the windows.
- When cooking and boiling water, turn on your kitchen range hood
- Run the exhaust fan in your bathroom for at least 30 minutes longer than usual.
How to Reduce Humidity in House Without Dehumidifier
Reducing indoor humidity without a dehumidifier can work when you use moisture-absorbing materials and improve your home’s ventilation. The methods work if you don’t have a serious humidity issue.
Use Charcoal Briquettes
Charcoal briquettes have excellent adsorption properties, which can help get rid of the humidity and odors in your home. Fill in a basket with a cheap bag of charcoal and leave it out in the open. The charcoal can last for 2-3 months. Coconut shell charcoal is even better because it has a higher adsorptive power. It also resists powdering in adsorption which reduces humidity.
Repair Your Walls
Cracks or holes in your walls can introduce moisture into your home. Warm, moist outside air can travel indoors through these cracks or holes in warm, humid weather. This causes condensation on indoor materials and items, a sign of high humidity levels. Check your home’s external walls regularly, especially on the basement wall, to ensure there are no cracks. If they are present, fix them properly.
Try Rock Salt
Rock salt is a hygroscopic material, which means it draws and stores water molecules from its surrounding environment. It works similar to a dehumidifier by pulling excess moisture out of the air. You can also substitute rock salt with zeolite rocks, silica-based kitty litter, and calcium chloride.
Symptoms of High Humidity in Home
Excessive moisture and high humidity levels can cause discomfort and many health issues. Here’s how to tell if your apartment has high humidity:
- Condensation on mirrors, windows, toilet tanks, and pipes: The presence of humidity causes these surfaces to collect condensation. This occurs when warm, moist air contacts cool surfaces, and the air vapor turns into liquid water. Feel the areas surrounding mirrors, pipes, and windows for dampness. Damp surfaces can cause long-term issues.
- Discoloration (wet stains) on ceilings and walls: Extraneous moisture can cause discoloration or stains on your walls or ceiling. These stains are challenging to spot, but they are a sure sign of high humidity levels.
- A constant feeling of exhaustion: If you live in an apartment with excessive humidity, may experience dehydration, resulting from heat exhaustion. This happens because the moisture in your home traps your sweat against the skin, which keeps it from naturally evaporating.
- Allergy-like symptoms: Both high humidity and resulting mold can manifest in physical symptoms. Mold spores are toxic and can cause health problems like shortness of breath, excessive headaches, sinus infections, sore throats, or a persistent cough.
- Creaking or buckling floorboards: Excess moisture in the air can cause stucco to crumble and floorboards to creak.
- Mold or mildew growth: Excessive humidity often encourages mold to grow on windows, in the corners of walls, on the ceiling, around pipes, or in the bathroom. High humidity levels also generate a musty odor. Exposure to mold can also cause irritation of the eyes, skin, or throat and blocked nasal passages.
- Still or stale air: Excess humidity causes inhibited airflow, which leaves your apartment feeling thick and still. Still or stale air further worsens the situation by encouraging indoor air pollutants such as dust mites to thrive.
How to Test Humidity Without Hygrometer
If you cannot afford a hygrometer or simply prefer not to use it, you can still test humidity in these ways:
- Check for signs of peeling paint or floorboards that creak excessively
- Watch out for wet stains or discoloration on the ceiling or crumbly stucco
- See if any surfaces such as floors, walls, and shelves feel soft or moist
- Look for visible condensation on surfaces like mirrors, windows, and pipes. If you find condensation, check and feel the surrounding area for any moisture spreading to walls and nearby surfaces.
- Check your home for mold and mildew. After you’ve had fresh air and come back indoors, you should be able to smell a musty odor or a smoky scent.
- Find out if you, your family members or roommate experience loss or shortness of breath, severe headaches, common allergy symptoms like a chronic cough or wheezing
Having just one of these signs may not point to a humidity problem, but if you have multiple signs, it’s best to have your home checked.
Why Is My House So Humid With The Ac On?
Your AC Isn’t Running Often
Keep your air conditioner running continuously, but adjust the setting depending on the temperature outside. Your AC system uses less energy when it’s running for longer periods than when it frequently cycles on and off.
An oversized air conditioner
Your air conditioner’s size determines its effectiveness. When your AC unit has a capacity much larger than your home, it cools too quickly. It frequently turns on and off in short, ineffective cycles that increase humidity.
It’s Too Old
As your AC ages, the wear-and-tear causes it not to eliminate humidity properly. This is more so if you’ve not been maintaining the AC system regularly. At some point, you may have to choose between repairing and replacing.
You Need AC Repairs
Frozen evaporator coils, a clogged condensate drain, or insufficient refrigerant in the coils can hinder your AC’s performance. Dirt, dust, and other debris can accumulate on sensitive AC components, disrupting the refrigerant cycle, which necessitates professional cleanup.
Whether it’s keeping you from sleeping, or causing frizzy hair, excessive humidity can be annoying, or dangerous if it causes mold. Not every apartment comes with an air conditioner or a humidity-controlling one at that. These alternatives can help you reduce humidity in your apartment without a dehumidifier.