How you can control the humidity in your home for a healthier environment
Opening windows for ventilation and spraying affected areas with bleach or mould/mildew cleaners can help, but when that is not enough, a dehumidifier is your best option for an acute and ongoing problem.
Humidity can be controlled. If the relative humidity in your home is too high, there are ways to reduce it.
How do you measure your humidity?
Buying a small manual or electric barometer can help you determine the level of humidity you have at home. To prevent condensation during the heating season, the recommended indoor (RH=Relative Humidity) is 30 per cent to 60 per cent according to the Environmental Protection Agency. When it is below -10°C (14°F) outdoors, recommended indoor RH is 30 per cent.
Designed to dry and pump moisture out of the air, electric dehumidifiers have a fan with hot and cold coils to take moist air in and release dry air. Some turn off when their water container is full and can extract several litres of moisture from the air per day which you can then pour away. Other larger machines come with a hose that can be diverted to a drain or sink so that they can run continuously through the day and night.
Not only can dehumidifiers be used to lower the humidity of poorly ventilated rooms, but they can also be used in rooms where clothes are drying inside to speed up the process.
Moisture trapping crystals, silica gels and salt
For smaller spaces like closets, shelves and hard to reach areas, moisture trapping boxes filled with sodium chloride crystals or silica gels can absorb moisture from the air. Water collects at the bottom and the water collected in the tray can be dumped out regularly.
The advantage of these containers is that they don't require electricity and can be topped up as needed. Some with silica gels turn colour from blue to pink when they are fully absorbed and can be recharged by heating them in the microwave so you can use them again. Rock salt can also be used and then dried for reuse.
However, these are not always convenient with children or pets around as silica desiccants can also be poisonous. Good ventilation and having a way to dry out the dessicant is key to this type of dehumidification.
Eliminate mould spores, allergens and dust mites
In addition to mould spores, dust mites also thrive in warm, moist locations and need high humidity to live. So reducing the humidity in your home with a dehumidifier is a great way to reduce the numbers of these unwanted pests and allergens that can make you or family members ill.
If a musty smell hits you like a wave when you walk into a room, you know you have a fight on your hands and it's time to dehumidify. Complete damp proofing for your house or flat may be expensive, so knowing how to dehumidify your home against mould, mildew and unwanted allergens is an important part of keeping your family healthy and happy.