Summer is here, which means long, beautiful days, hot weather and plenty of bikinis, shorts and fancy sunglasses everywhere you look. But you can’t spend the next several months at the beach or the town pool, even though that would probably be your preference. After work you’ll be heading home, and the hot, humid weather outside can all too easily invade your personal space, making it more than a little bit uncomfortable. Humidity might be good for your skin, but it can cause some serious havoc on your house. Paint peels off the walls, mold and mildew grab a hold and spread, and your health can even be effected. You simply can’t let humidity get out of control, at least not for very long. So here are five tips to help you control humidity in your home.
First of all, think about ways you can bring a bit of natural dehumidification into the home. Everyone loves a good houseplant, even if it does take some work to maintain. But the right planter won’t only bring some beauty to the environment. It can also help manage humidity. Ask the professionals at the local garden center for advice, but start by looking for ferns. Some of them, such as the Boston fern, actually pull moisture out of the air, naturally aiding your dehumidifying efforts.
You should also think twice about how you use water in your home. Anything you do that adds humidity to the air will make your other efforts less effective. Start in the kitchen, and cut down the amount of time you spend boiling water. You don’t have to pass on your morning cup of tea, but minimize where you can to keep that moisture out of the air. You might also want to run your dishwasher with the steam drying cycle. And keep the shower temperature down as much as you can.
At this point you should look over your central air conditioning system. Most A/C units will naturally dehumidify your home to a certain degree, but only if they are operating properly. Check out all of the ductwork, to locate and seal any leaks. If cold air leaks out of the system somewhere you won’t easily notice it could get into the walls and cause all sorts of problems.
The obvious fix is purchasing a dehumidifier. Just keep in mind that the size of each device will have to be paired with the proper room. If you run a small dehumidifier in a room that’s too large for its ability, you’ll basically just be wasting energy. Match the correctly sized device in the right room, or consider putting in a whole-house dehumidifier if you deal with these issues over the entire year.
Finally, think about adjusting your air conditioner use. If you have the option, switch the fan setting to ‘automatic’. If you leave the fan set to ‘on’, the system will blow the cold air across the wet coils all the time, even when the cooling condenser is off. That will add more humidity, impacting your efforts. Ideally you should purchase a unit with a variable-speed air handler and an adjustable thermostat. Always make sure the drain line and drip pan is clear of obstructions, and keep up on your regular HVAC system maintenance. If you have a fairly new unit and keep it in good shape, it will help your dehumidification efforts.