Humidity is the measurement of how much water vapor is present in the air. Understanding humidity and the way it works can help you stay comfortable in all weather conditions, and help you keep your home in good condition.
Maybe you’ve noticed that your basement is usually the most humid area in your home. This might lead you to believe that humidity falls, but that’s not actually true. Humidity will always rise. The reason for this is that water vapor is lighter than air, and so will always rise above the dry air. Lighter molecules will always rise over heavier molecules.
Do you have more questions about humidity, how it affects your home, and why it rises? Our detailed guide will answer all your pressing questions about humidity rising.
Why Does Humid Air Rise?
Humid air rises because of the presence of gaseous water vapor. Water vapor is lighter than air, and will therefore always rise above dry air.
Water vapor can congregate in the air for many reasons, but the most common way it appears is through the process of evaporation. As temperatures rise, water begins to evaporate into a gas, which is known as water vapor.
This water vapor, which is what humidity refers to, will then rise above the dry air. As a gas, it’s lighter than the air and will continue rising above dry air until it comes into contact with an even lighter layer of the atmosphere.
How Does Humidity Move Throughout a House?
Humid air will rise through your home, just as it rises through the air outside. Humidity can rise through floors, walls, ceilings, and any other structure of your home. It can come from outside your home, or from cooking, hot showers, or other activities that can produce steam.
The humidity can move through your home in a couple of different ways. First, humid air can travel easily through any open space. Any holes or areas in the structure of your home where air currents can flow will allow for humidity to move.
Humidity can also go through the structures in your home such as floors, ceilings, windows, etc. This process is called diffusion and works based on the pressure in your home. Humidity will travel from the highest-pressured side of a door or wall to the lower-pressure side. The process of humidity transferring through a structure is called diffusion.
If Humid Air Rises, Then Why Does My Basement Have the Highest Humidity?
Perhaps you’ve noticed that your basement tends to hold the most humidity out of all the rooms in your home. This can be confusing when you learn that humidity rises, but there is a reason for this.
Basements are frequently victims of poor insulation. Most basements also don’t have many windows, and this leads to a lack of ventilation, which is necessary to combat humidity.
The lack of insulation allows the conditions outside to enter your basement more easily and frequently than the rest of your home and will result in increased humidity. Additionally, the lack of ventilation will cause the humidity in your basement to get stuck. Without an air current to follow, the humid air has nowhere to go.
Both of these factors will lead the air in your basement to hold more water vapor than the areas in the rest of your home.
How Do You Measure Humidity?
Humidity is the measure of water vapor present in the air, which can sound complicated, but you don’t have to be a scientist to measure the humidity in your home.
There are measuring tools called hygrometers that are made to measure the humidity inside and outside of your home. Hygrometers come in analog and digital versions. The digital versions are the most accurate and user-friendly.
You can see a Thermo Pro hygrometer here on amazon!
They work similarly to a traditional temperature thermometer and will give you a percentage to represent how much humidity you’re experiencing inside or outside of your home. All you need to do is place the hygrometer in the room where you want to measure the humidity and wait a couple of minutes for it to display the resulting percentage.
Does Humid Air Cause Structural Damage?
Humid air can cause structural damage. If your home experiences too much humidity for too long then it can lead to serious problems. Mold and other bacterial growths can be caused by humid air, which can weaken the overall structure of your home.
Any wooden structures in your home such as floors, doors, beams, etc can also be negatively affected by humid air. Wood rot can set in if your home is exposed to too much humidity for a prolonged period of time, and you’ll need to replace all the affected components of your home.
This kind of structural damage can weaken your home and lead it more susceptible to damage from heavy winds and rains. It can lead to a very expensive repair bill, which is one of the reasons why it’s so important to keep the humidity in your home under control.
Is Humid Air Dangerous to Your Health?
Too much humidity isn’t good for you and can cause serious health problems. If humidity is too severe inside your home and causes mold or other fungus growth then that can cause respiratory problems such as asthma. Respiratory conditions can become very serious, even life-threatening, and often require medication to manage.
Humid air can also cause you to feel fatigued and lethargic. It also makes it harder for your body to naturally sweat and cool down. In order to sweat, our bodies need to be able to evaporate water, and that is harder to do in an environment with high humidity because the air is already holding a lot of water vapor.
Overheating can lead to dangerous problems including heatstroke and dehydration. Both of these problems can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.
Does Humid Air Increase the Likelihood of Insects Inside Your Home?
Humid air creates a breeding ground for many insects and pests. If your home is experiencing high levels of humidity then this can attract bugs and insects as it’s an ideal environment for them to live in.
There’s also the potential for fungus growth and wood rot, which can also attract certain insects and pests. The best way to protect your home from these pests is to keep the humidity in your home between 40-60% at all times.
What’s the Best Way to Control Humidity Inside Your Home?
There are a couple of ways you can control the humidity inside your home, but you should start by getting a hygrometer so you have an accurate understanding of how much humidity is in your home.
The next step is to make sure your home is properly insulated. Adding weather stripping around your windows and doors will help keep the conditions inside your home under control. You should look around your home for any spaces where the air from outside can come in, and seal them up where possible.
After that, you can focus on altering the humidity in your home as needed. Try to keep a fan on or a window open whenever you’re taking a hot shower, using a washer/dryer, or cooking. The best way to control the humidity in your home is by purchasing a humidifier or dehumidifier. These will allow you to add or take away the humidity in your home as needed.
What Causes A Home to Become More Humid?
The humidity levels outside will have a direct effect on how humid it is inside your home. If your home doesn’t have proper insulation and ventilation, then it can become more humid.
There are also things you do inside your home that can affect the humidity. Cooking and producing a lot of steam will add to the humidity in your home, as will taking a hot shower.
Make sure your home has proper insulation, plenty of ventilation, and keep a window open or fan on when you’re cooking or taking a shower. This will help you maintain a reasonable level of humidity in your home.
Where is the Best Place to Place My Dehumidifier?
Your dehumidifier will work best in the areas of your home where moisture tends to accumulate. The rooms that could benefit the most from a dehumidifier are bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and basements.
Placing a dehumidifier in these rooms will help remove moisture from the air and keep humid air from forming and migrating to the rest of your home. You should use your dehumidifier anytime you use a washer/dryer, take a hot shower, or cook.
Humid air can affect every inch of your home; from the basement straight up to the attic. It’s important to understand humidity, its tendency to rise, and the ways that you can control it.
Keeping the humidity in your home will help prevent any health issues and keep the structure of your home stable. It will also help you to avoid dealing with an unpleasant insect or pest infestation.
Jamie is the Founder of My Home Dwelling. He is a homeowner and enjoys sharing his homeowner tips with others. He has real estate experience working as a new home construction Realtor. Jamie has worked on numerous residential construction sites helping with interior and exterior renovations. He loves refinishing furniture, DIY home projects, and sharing his knowledge online.