How to Control Humidity in a House

Controlling the humidity in your home is critical to staying comfortable and avoiding problems with your home. For example, too much home humidity -- which is common during summer -- can cause allergies and promote the growth of mold, which can be a health risk and cause structural damage in your home.

However, too little humidity -- which is common during the winter -- can make you more susceptible to colds and other infections as well as nosebleeds and dry skin, and it can dry out your furniture. Controlling your home’s humidity level requires day-to-day attention.

Decrease Humidity

  1. Run your air conditioning regularly during humid weather instead of opening windows when the low temperature is expected to be no greater than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Turn on your bathroom exhaust fans as soon as you start to shower or bathe, and leave the fan on for 10 minutes to 15 minutes after showering or bathing to vent out most of the humid air.

  3. Allow air to circulate in your bedrooms. Leave your bedroom door open at night if the air conditioning or heat is not on and if there are no return air duct in the room.

  4. Turn on your oven vent each time you cook food, which reduces moisture in the kitchen and thus helps control humidity in your house. Also, do not allow foods to simmer on your stove for long periods of time.

  5. Check for any water leaks in your water heater, shower tile grout and washing machine hose; leaks in these areas can release water into the air. Also check for air leaks in areas around window air conditioning units, electrical outlets, doors and windows. Dry air or excess moisture could be leaking into your home through any of these areas.

  6. Place a dehumidifier in your house, especially in damp and humid areas such as your basement. Choose a dehumidifier that has automated controls for monitoring and setting relative humidity levels; the ideal humidity level for a home is 40 percent to 50 percent in the summer and 30 percent to 50 percent in the winter. Make sure the unit can function when indoor temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Increase Humidity

  1. Add a humidifier to your furnace or buy a room-size humidifier for your bedroom and other rooms where you spend a lot of time. A tabletop humidifier can produce about 2 gallons to 4 gallons of water each day, while a console humidifier puts out 8 gallons of water and can handle up to a 2,000-square-foot area. A central humidifier on your furnace delivers moist air directly to rooms throughout your home.

  2. When you shower, don't turn on the exhaust fan and leave the door open so that the moist air from your shower can reach other parts of your house.

  3. Allow foods to simmer on your stove for extended periods to add moisture to your home's air. You also can use a stovetop humidifier to simmer potpourri. Don't leave simmering liquids unattended.

  4. Tip

    Use cooler water when you take a shower or bath to also help decrease humidity in your house.