The Importance of Maintaining Proper Humidity Levels in Your Home

Since we spend most of our time indoors (an estimated 90% of each day!), it’s extremely important to maintain a comfortable and healthy indoor environment. Think of it this way – your home is a lot like your body, and it needs to stay properly hydrated in order to maintain the health and comfort of those living in it.

What Happens When Humidity is Too Low?

When it’s cold out (as it often is in Ottawa), there is insufficient moisture in the air, and this can lead to a variety of problems, including dry and bleeding noses, sore throats, cracked and itchy skin, breathing problems, dust buildup, static electricity, and cracks and dried-out joints in wood furniture and musical instruments. Older and less energy-efficient homes are more likely to suffer from low humidity.

The Benefits of a Whole-House Humidifier

If your indoor air is feeling dry and musty, it might be time to invest in a new whole-house humidifier. Installed directly onto your current HVAC system, a humidifier will distribute pleasing and replenishing moisture throughout your entire home.

Not only will the extra moisture protect your health and your belongings, but a humidifier will also help you save on your monthly energy bills. Not only does it cost less to heat moist air, but you’ll also be able to keep your thermostat lower, as the added moisture can even make cooler temperatures feel more comfortable.

Recommended Humidity Levels

The recommended average relative humidity level for a home is between 35% and 45% – anywhere in this range will provide your home (and your body) with just the right amount of moisture, without the air becoming too wet (which could cause damage to your home).

Humidity levels can be easily checked with a hygrometer (a small and inexpensive tool that looks similar to a thermometer). In addition, with a new state-of-the-art humidifier, the humidity level can easily be controlled and adjusted to your exact comfort level.

Installing the right size of humidifier for your home is extremely important. The following chart should help you determine the recommended humidity requirements for your home (and therefore, the size and capacity of humidifier you will need).

Recommended Humidity Requirements
Gallons per Day

Type of Construction House Size (sq. ft.)
500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500 3,000
Tight (Energy Star) .01 2.2 4.4 6.5 8.6 10.7
Average (<10 Years Old) 1.3 4.5 7.8 11.1 14.3 17.6
Loose (Older Homes) 2.6 7.2 11.8 16.4 21.0 25.6

What Happens When Humidity is Too High?

When there is too much moisture in your home, wet air can get trapped in corners, basements, and other closed areas. This is usually most noticeable in bathrooms, where moisture gathers in corners and on ceilings and creates mildew that is often difficult to remove. Condensation can also accumulate in windows, causing water to drip down the window and wooden frames to rot. Bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms are also prone to having higher humidity levels.

This excess moisture provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold (which can be harmful to your health if left unchecked), and also makes your home more inviting for pest and insects such as cockroaches and termites.

Maintaining the proper humidity levels in your home is definitely worth it. After all, since you’re spending so much time indoors, you might as well be spending that time in a healthy environment.

Does the air in your home feel stale and musty? Do you have problems breathing at night because it's too dry or too humid? Holmes Heating and Air Conditioning can help. Contact us today to learn more about our humidifiers and air quality products and services.