The simple answer is: yes. Low humidity can be bad for your home. Just like too much humidity can be bad for your home as it can cause mold and other issues – too little moisture can also cause problems. Here are some of the signs of a home with low humidity and what you can do to prevent it.
Low Humidity And Your Furnishings
Think about the things in your home – dressers, beds, tables, chairs, entertainment centers, bookshelves. There are a lot of furnishings made of wood or wood composite, and as you may know, wood can be heavily affected by moisture and lack of it. It expands and contracts with the humidity which can leave you with ruined furniture and home finishings.
How many times have you heard wood floors creak as you walk across them? That can be due to floor boards that have shrunk due to low humidity, causing spaces between the boards to open up. How about a door that squeaks or sticks or doesn’t quite shut right? That may be because it’s warped from repeated expanding and contracting. Even table and chair legs can become loose in low humidity. And when it’s extremely dry, you’ll notice cracks in wood furniture – like when a log splits after being close to a fire.
In addition, paint can chip, wallpaper can peel, glues and sealants along your windows can dry out and create air leaks. The investment you make in making your home feel like your home can be damaged if you don’t have that important balance of humidity.
Low Humidity And Your Health
Even worse than damage to your furniture can be damage to your health and comfort caused by low humidity.
On the low end of the totem pole, there are the static shocks you feel while walking around or touching things in an area with low humidity. That’s just annoying! But it’s safe to say that most of us have also fallen victim to cracked skin and lips, dry, scratchy eyes, irritated throats, or bloody noses at some point in our lives. Eventually, your body may develop an infection from any of those things and become more susceptible to viruses, colds, and coughs, as well.
Dry air is also just plain uncomfortable. It makes us feel cooler because the perspiration on our bodies evaporates more quickly, say Keith Hill, manager of technical support at Minnesota Air.
“Sometimes we overcome this apparent low temperature by turning up the thermostat and use more energy in the process,” he says. “Health-wise, dry air aggravates respiratory issues.”
What’s The Proper Humidity For Your Home?
So, what’s the rule of thumb for getting the right amount of humidity in your home? Keith says 30 to 50 percent is a good humidity goal year round.
“Wintertime should be no more than 40 percent, and if the windows ‘sweat’ (or build up condensation), then go even lower,” he says. “In wintertime, it can be a balancing act. Most times we are limited by what our windows can withstand. Subzero usually requires some reduction in humidity level to keep the frost off the windows.”