Lauren Nowacki5-Minute Read
UPDATED: May 25, 2023
Home is one place you should feel most comfortable. But when the temp is off, the air is heavy or something just doesn’t feel right, it can be hard to feel relaxed. One common cause of discomfort in the home is high humidity. When the humidity in a room is high, the space can feel hot and sticky and may cause you to sweat more. Not only that, but the elevated level of water in the air can also cause damage to your home. That’s why homeowners need to learn how to dehumidify a room, so they can take action when needed.
Several factors influence the humidity levels of a room, including weather, ventilation, design and activity. A room with poor ventilation, like no windows or blocked air vents, may have a hard time getting fresh, cool air, so it may be more humid. Such activities like running a dishwasher, boiling water, steaming vegetables or showering can produce moisture in the air, so it’s no surprise that the kitchen or bathroom may experience higher levels of humidity, too.
Of course, basements are a whole other beast when it comes to humidity. Since they’re underground, they’re routinely damp and typically require mechanical dehumidification to continuously reduce moisture. Since different methods are needed for dealing with basement moisture, this article will explore how to lower humidity in the other rooms of your home.
Not only is too much humidity uncomfortable, it can also affect your health and your home. Too much humidity can cause dehydration and affect your sleep. Because it can cause mold and bacteria growth, it can also irritate your allergies, asthma or other health problems.
The need for mold removal won’t be the only problem humidity can cause. It could also create structural damage, like cracks in the foundation, wood rot or rust. Along with the home itself, it can damage items inside the home to artwork, wallpaper and furniture.
Several options for dehumidifying a room require only simple changes in your activity or a few inexpensive purchases. While most tips involve natural methods, some may require a special appliance or substance to help.
Some solutions or devices can pull moisture from the air, better circulate the air or heat a room without adding more moisture. Consider these when you’re willing to spend some money on fixing the problem.
Rock salt, calcium chloride, activated charcoal and even baking soda can be used to remove moisture from the air and cost less than $15. Many of these solutions will absorb odors as well. You can use these products to create a DIY dehumidifier or purchase retail products online or at your local grocery or hardware store. Keep in mind that baking soda isn’t as powerful as the other solutions and should only be used in small, enclosed spaces, like your cupboards or kitchen pantry. The effectiveness of these solutions will depend on the size of the space and level of humidity.
There are specific appliances out there to help you maintain a level amount of humidity in your spaces. Fans can help circulate the air and help move it to a less-humid area. They can also help with cooling by moving air over your skin to lower your body temperature. Meanwhile, space heaters add heat to a room without adding new moisture. This decreases humidity while removing the chill from a space.
Of course, one of the best appliances for reducing humidity in a home is a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier kicks on when the humidity rises above a certain, preset level. Once on, the machine uses a fan to pull in the humid air, run it over a refrigerated coil to allow the moisture to condense and collect inside a small tank. Once the moisture is removed, the dehumidifier pushes the dry air back into the room.
You can get a portable dehumidifier that you can transfer from room to room or get a whole-house dehumidifier that connects to your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system and works to keep an even level of moisture throughout the whole house, not just one room.
Simply changing some of your habits at home can also help decrease humidity. Try taking these steps to get rid of moisture in the air.
Showers are notorious for steaming up the windows and general space in a bathroom. Steam is water in the gas phase and increases humidity greatly. It’s usually caused by long, hot showers, so one way to reduce it is by taking shorter and/or cooler showers.
Good ventilation is key to lowering humidity, especially when you’re doing an activity that puts more moisture into the air. When cooking, running the dishwasher or showering, consider cracking a window to allow the steam to escape and to bring fresh air in.
Exhaust fans are also great to use when cooking or showering because they suck in the humid air and push it through a vent to the outside. By removing the humid air, the fan allows fresh air to enter the room and replace it.
Even when you change your habits or use a dehumidifier, you can still experience higher humidity levels because certain items or problems in the home are causing them. If you keep house plants, store firewood inside, have an HVAC system or experience water problems in your home, you may want to try some of the tips below.
Some house plants can add moisture to the air through evapotranspiration, a process in which the water makes its way from the roots to the leaves’ pores, where it is evaporated into the air. Water can also evaporate into the air from exposed soil. If you can’t do without plants, consider swapping your house plants for air plants. Air plants don’t grow in soil and they actually absorb moisture through their leaves. A few popular options include the Pink Quill, Sky Plant, Brachycaulos, Cacticola and Bulbous air plants.
Your HVAC system is responsible for regulating the temperature in your home and helps control humidity levels as the furnace expels dry heat and the air-conditioner removes moisture from the air as it cools it. To keep your unit working properly, it’s important to properly maintain it by changing the air filter every 3 months, keeping the space around it clear and getting it inspected and cleaned by a professional annually. The inspection and cleaning will uncover any issues and help ensure it’s running efficiently.
When you have water damage in the home, you’ll want to take care of it right away for multiple reasons. First, any standing water will evaporate into the air, adding to the room’s humidity. Second, if you don’t find the source of the leak and correct it, you’ll continue to have water entering the home. Water damage shouldn’t be taken lightly. It could be a sign of plumbing or foundation issues or could eventually endanger your home’s structural integrity. Along with finding the source of the problem and fixing it, you can also take proactive steps by diverting water away from your home.
Finding the right level of humidity in your home has a number of health benefits and keeps your home protected from damage caused by moisture. Finding the right balance may require small changes to your lifestyle or may require the help of some solutions or devices. How to maintain the right level of comfort in your home is just one of the many lessons you’ll learn about owning a home. For more tips on homeownership, read the homeowner guide section of our blog.