Humidity is the percentage of water vapor in air. This level fluctuates depending on the season and is obviously different outdoors and inside your home. Certain regions of the country have really dry winters.
Also, all the heating devices inside your house like furnaces and heaters completely dry out all the water vapor present in indoor air. You need to have some humidity inside your house. The ideal range of humidity in winter is about 30-40%.
Why is humidity necessary?
Air that is devoid of or has almost no water vapor in it can cause wood to shrink or crack. This will pose a great risk to your furniture and even the basic structure of the house. Dry air also causes irritation of the throat, eyes, skin and nose. Thus, dry air is not good for the health or the home.
It is best to choose a good furnace humidifier that can help keep the air inside your house somewhat moist. But you do not want to make it too humid indoors otherwise it will result in condensation.
How and why does condensation occur?
Condensation occurs when moist, warm air comes in contact with cold objects or surfaces. You may see condensation on the insides of your windows on a cold day. This is because the windows lose heat to the environment and become cold.
But if the air inside your house is warm, it will have some amount of water vapor too. This will stick to the cold windows.
Right Level of Humidity
Your house needs just the right amount of water vapor indoors. If humidity is too low, you will face health problems and damage to your home. If the humidity is too high, condensation will occur. This will again damage your house.
If condensation occurs on windows, for instance, it will eventually form water droplets and roll down to seep into window frames. This can further reach the walls causing the growth of mold or the rotting of wood.
Over a considerable period of time, it will jeopardize the structural integrity of your house. These kinds of problems are difficult to fix and the repairs can get really expensive.
High humidity levels can also lead to respiratory problems, aggravated allergies and some people might have a problem sleeping.
What can be done?
Furnace humidifiers can help you maintain the right amount of humidity inside your house. If you still notice condensation on the windows, it means that you have kept the indoor humidity levels too high. Adjust them before any mold growth or damage to wood begins.
If the problem still persists, it is possible that your house has bad ventilation. As most houses are built water tight these days to ensure that heat is retained, humidity cannot escape either.
Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) are useful to retain indoor heat but allow humidity to escape and fresh air to come in.
How to get it right?
30-40% humidity is ideal but find a comfortable level using a hygrometer (which measures the amount of water vapor in the air).