6 Signs of Low Humidity in Your Home (and How to Fix It)

by Michael Franco
Vapor from humidifier in front of window

We spend a significant amount of time indoors, so the quality of our indoor environment is an important factor in our overall well-being.

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Humidity, or the lack thereof, can play a crucial role in maintaining a comfortable, healthy living space.

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What Does It Mean to Have Low Humidity?

Humidity, often expressed as relative humidity, is a measure of the amount of moisture present in the air versus the maximum it could hold at any given temperature. Low humidity indicates that the air is relatively dry, containing less moisture than is considered ideal for our comfort and health.

Low humidity in the home is primarily caused by environmental factors and household activities that reduce moisture levels in the air. During the winter, heating systems, such as furnaces and radiators, tend to dry out indoor air. Additionally, cold air has a lower moisture-holding capacity, so when the weather turns cold outside, the relative humidity can drop.

How Do You Know When the Humidity in Your Home Is Low?

Identifying and correcting low humidity in the home is crucial. Here are some signs to watch out for that indicate the moisture levels inside your home are too low:

  • Cracked Lips and Dry Mouth: Insufficient moisture in the air can lead to dry lips and a parched mouth. This can be noticeable when you wake up in the morning.
  • Damaged Wood: If the wood floors, cabinets, counters, furniture or trim in your home are starting to crack, it could be a sign that the humidity levels are too low.
  • Worsened Allergies: Low humidity can exacerbate allergy symptoms because dry air irritates the respiratory system, making you more susceptible to allergies.
  • Difficulty Sleeping: Dry air can cause disrupted sleep patterns and potential respiratory issues, especially for individuals prone to snoring.
  • Electronics Malfunctions: Electronic devices can be sensitive to extreme conditions. Low humidity can lead to static electricity buildup, potentially damaging electronic components and reducing their lifespan.
  • Aggravated Asthma Symptoms: Individuals with asthma may experience worsened symptoms in low humidity conditions (as dry air can irritate the airways and trigger asthma attacks).
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What to Do if There’s Low Humidity in Your Home

Get a Humidifier

A surefire way to increase your home's humidity level is by purchasing either a whole-house or portable humidifier. These appliances introduce acceptable levels of moisture into the air and operate either on a schedule or according to the humidity level you choose. In general, experts recommend keeping the humidity in your home between 40% and 60%.

For portable humidifiers, you need to consider the various types, such as evaporative, ultrasonic, steam vaporizers and impeller models. Each comes with advantages and considerations. When choosing a size, match it to the dimensions of the room, with smaller units suitable for bedrooms and larger ones for more open living spaces.

Selecting a whole-house humidifier involves a better understanding of the overall humidity needs of your home. Learn about different types, including bypass, fan-powered and steam humidifiers, considering your existing HVAC system and installations. It might be best to consult with HVAC professionals to ensure the system's capacity aligns with the entire home's square footage.

Additional Measures

If you don't think a humidifier is right for you, here are a few other tips to help increase the humidity levels in your home:

  • Use houseplants: Introducing houseplants can help increase humidity levels as plants release moisture through a process known as transpiration.
  • Dry clothes indoors: Hang wet clothes indoors to dry. As the water evaporates from the clothes, it contributes to the moisture content in the air.
  • Seal air leaks: Air leaks can contribute to humidity loss. Seal gaps around windows and doors to prevent the infiltration of dry outdoor air.
  • Boil water: Boiling water on the stove is a quick way to introduce moisture into the air. Add herbs or essential oils to add a soothing aroma.
  • Humidify with wet towels: Hang damp towels indoors. As they dry, they release moisture, increasing humidity in the surrounding area.
  • Use bowls of water: Place bowls of water around the home. As the water evaporates, it can increase the air humidity level. If you have radiator covers, you can place these bowls on top to speed up the evaporation process. (Be sure that the bowls are heat-safe.)

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Recognizing the signs of low humidity and taking proactive measures to address and sustain healthy moisture levels in your home is the first step. By implementing these tips, you can help create a more enjoyable living space and ensure a balanced indoor environment throughout the year.

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