Humidity in the Home: What it is and Why it Matters
Home ownership comes with new responsibilities. Some are easy to see: shoveling the driveway, cleaning the gutters, and keeping paint fresh and clean. Others are more challenging to detect – like humidity, the amount of water vapour present in the air.
Because Activa’s homes are ENERGY STAR® certified, they are built with the highest levels of air tightness, which use insulation and other building science to prevent heat and cold loss. This means your home will be warm and draft free in the winter, and consistently cool in the summer.
That said, while our homes are tightly sealed, a buildup of stale air and humidity can naturally occur. Stale air can be exhausted quickly by using your HRV (heat recovery ventilation); just like opening a window, this also brings fresh air in from outdoors. Humidity management can be a bit more complicated, though – read on to learn how (and why) you should manage your home’s humidity.
Why Humidity Matters
It’s important for us to ensure that all of our homeowners are well-equipped to maintain their home. We proudly provide our homeowners with the knowledge and tools to understand and prevent dampness buildup in their home. This is because humidity in the home can cause different conditions to occur, which can affect the at-home comfort and health of our homeowners.
Managing humidity is more important than many people realize, as damage or conditions caused by too much humidity are not covered under Tarion Warranty. These can include:
Condensation buildup on interior of windows and sills, patio doors and floor tracks. Any moisture or water buildup should be cleaned up right away. Additionally, removing window screens in the winter, and leaving blinds open or elevated slightly during the day allows the air to circulate, helping prevent humidity buildup
Mold and/or water buildup visible inside of insulation wrap in basements
Vinyl floors making a “crackling” sound when walking over it, or wood floors swelling (where the edges of the boards lift higher or fit tighter than normal)
Doors swelling and not closing properly
Subtler signs of high humidity can be:
Feeling the air is noticeably cooler as you go down your basement stairs.
Dry foods (such as crackers and cookies) getting soft, or sugar clumping together
Managing Humidity in Your New Home
Day-to-day living plays a major part in our homes’ humidity levels. Cooking, showering, and having a lot of plants all add humidity to the air. These sources of dampness can easily be eliminated by using ventilation fans in bathrooms and kitchens – right at the cause of humid air.
It’s also important to note that some construction materials, especially the concrete in your new home, give off water vapor, which contributes to high humidity in homes. This can last up to 2 years. For this reason, it’s recommended to purchase a dehumidifier to be set up in basements or utility rooms to keep humidity at a low.
Monitoring humidity is very simple. At Activa, we provide all homeowners with a small, portable hygrometer that monitors the moisture level in the air. We recommend putting this on top of your thermostat, or close by – away from the bathrooms and kitchen.
The hygrometer displays the percent of RH (relative humidity) and the indoor temperature, and a simple guide under the display shows you the ideal range (between 30-50% RH) where you and your home will be most comfortable.
If the RH is over 50%, you may notice the conditions listed above. If the RH is under 30%, it can lead to dry, irritated eyes and skin, as well as static electricity in your hair. When your house is too dry, you may notice symptoms like cabinet shrinkage, hardwood floor boards shrinking and gapping, or interior trim and drywall corners separating, leading to visible cracks.
It’s clear that managing your home’s humidity has a positive impact on not only the home itself, but on the people who live there. Activa is proud to provide the tools to monitor humidity, as well as Customer Experience Coordinators who are trained to help our homeowners understand the ins and outs of maintaining their home.