Humidity & Indoor Air Quality: Problems and Solutions  

Canadian seasons experience a large spectrum of different temperatures from freezing temperatures averaging below – 20 °C to sizzling heatwaves that rise above 30 °C, having a reliable furnace and air conditioner is essential for maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home.  

We often think about our home’s air temperature in relation to the temperature setting in which we choose on our thermostat. But actually, indoor humidity levels are just as important for maintaining good indoor air quality.  

Humidity is a measure of the amount of water vapour in the air. Different temperatures allow for certain levels of water to exist within the air. Likewise, humidity levels can also affect how warm a temperature feels. For an example, 24 °C with 20% humidity will feel like 22°C and 41°C with 60% humidity will feel like 65°C.  

Too much or too little indoor humidity can be a problem for people living in the home. High levels of humidity would mean that there is a high moisture level within the air, which would result in the growth of mold and bacteria, difficulty maintaining a cool indoor air temperature and could increase the likelihood of developing sinus infections. However, if the humidity levels are too low it could result in your skin feeling dry and itchy, you could also be prone to colds and infections and potentially experience damages to your house’s wood, siding and paint.  

All that being said, HVAC equipment is designed to manage humidity levels and prevent issues that come with humidity levels that are too low and too high. This blog post will outline many of the HVAC humidity problems and solutions.  

Humidity and Central Air Conditioning Systems 

An air conditioning system working at its best will remove the proper amount of heat and moisture from your living area, resulting in the comfortable environment you want. However, if your unit is not running efficiently, you will not be able to achieve the desired comfort level—regardless of the temperature setting.  

Higher levels of indoor humidity puts pressure on the A/C system as they work hard to combat the effects of high humidity. If you have an older, inefficient or wrong-sized system, it may not be able to adequately address the humidity levels present within your home. This could result in your house feeling warmer because the extra moisture in the air isn’t being properly removed. Additionally, your system would be working longer and harder to achieve your desired result— putting stress on the unit and even increasing your utility bills.  

Here are some things you might experience if this is the case: 

1. The air in your home feels moist 

2. Your windows are foggy 

3. Your home tends to feel damp or smell musty 

Strategies for Dehumidification 

The most efficient and reliable way to manage the moisture in your home is to have one of Energy Clean’s professional and friendly HVAC technicians install a dehumidifier directly onto your HVAC system. Dehumidifiers work in accordance with your A/C system to pull in excess moisture in the air before it is sent through the air ducts into your home. If you plan on having a new system installed, it would be wise to have a dehumidifier simultaneously. Otherwise, one of our HVAC professionals can recommend a compatible dehumidifier for your existing unit. Ultimately, this option allows you to manage both temperatures and humidity levels in your home at once.  

However, an alternative method is to purchase a stand-alone dehumidifier and manage the humidity level using a manual humidity level indicator. The downside of this option is that it requires you to monitor the humidity levels and run the appliance when it is needed.  

Humidity and Heating Systems  

In the winter, a common problem homeowners experience is low humidity, as cold air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air. This results in homes feeling cooler than your thermostat reading and other problems such as aggravated sinuses, dryness and damage to furniture and flooring. When this happens, your furnace and heat pump may be using a high amount of energy as it over-exerts itself to run and still not provide the warmth required to effectively heat your home in the colder months.  

Strategies for Humidification 

To contrast the approach taken in summer months, during the winter you want to add moisture into the air with a humidifier. Like a dehumidifier, this appliance can be installed right onto your system to help improve HVAC performance. It works by adding moisture into the air before it is forced through the ducts in your home. This results in a warmer, more comfortable home and could also reduce your energy bills and the furnace does not need to work so hard to get a comfortable temperature within the home.  

You could also purchase a stand-alone humidifier and depending on the size of your home, you may need multiple units in different rooms of the house in order for it to feel comfortable.  

For more information about humidity and your home’s air quality, or to get a quote on any humidity-related product, feel free to contact us and speak to a trusted HVAC professional.  

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