Home & Garden Tips, Homeowner Tips, Tips & Helpful Advice — September 26, 2017 at 8:17 pm

Humidity Woes in Winter

Humidifier spreading steamWinter is, indeed, on its way, and along with the holidays, the season brings dry, harsh air with potentially damaging effects to your home’s interior, and your precious belongings. The culprit comes in the form of low humidity levels. For example, in the winter, you might notice cracks in crown molding and furniture, creaking floors or gaps on your wood flooring. The reason this happens is because the wood is drying out and shrinking, which can cause damage. Musical instruments, especially pianos, also are affected by dry air.

Happily, there’s a simple and quick fix. Adding a humidifier can help preserve furnishings, wallpaper, art, electronics and other materials in your home — while keeping musical instruments in tune.

Consider a humidifier to keep the shock level down in your home, too. When winter arrives, do you notice that you get shocked when you touch a light switch or grab a doorknob? Blame that on dry air, which causes an imbalance of protons and neutrons. These protons and neutrons are either positively or negatively charged, and are present around us at all times. When there’s an imbalance of positive and negative charges, the result is a clash of these charges. When this occurs, the charge jumps from one object — or person — to another, and this is the when we experience a shock. Not only is the shock from static electricity painful at times, and a nuisance, static electricity can have an effect on your electronics. Manufacturers of computers and phones regularly reference the potential of damage from static electricity, which they refer to as Electro-Static-Discharge (ESD). So adding humidity into the air will not only help reduce the risks ESD, but it also neutralizes negative and positive charges, thus preventing the effect of being shocked.

“Homeowners may be surprised to hear that no region or home in the country is exempt from the effects of humidity,” according to environmental scientist, Dr. Ted Myatt. “Whether your home is big or small, old or new, to avoid damage to precious objects and everyday materials, it’s important to monitor and maintain indoor relative humidity levels in the optimal range of 40 to 60 percent. This is especially critical during the dry winter months when levels can drop as low as 10 percent.”

A simple method to monitor indoor relative humidity levels is with a hygrometer. Despite its fancy moniker, the gadget simply measures water vapor in the atmosphere. These are often priced under $20, and are easily available at stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, and online through Amazon. You’ll find several brands, including the Honeywell Humidity Monitor, which displays relative humidity and indoor room temperature.

Protecting items in your own home from dry indoor air can be as simple as running a humidifier when humidity levels drop below the optimal range. By adding moisture to the air, you can effectively relieve dry air discomforts and mitigate future damage to your home.