The Unfiltered Blog

February 22, 2016

The ‘shocking’ truth about dry winter air in Iowa

By Chuck Gassmann, CEO

Dry air in winter making hair stand upHave you purchased every lotion in aisle 5 to keep your skin moisturized? Do you use a dryer sheet to remove the static from your hair? Are you tired of being shocked every time someone walks across the carpet and touches you?

While these situations might be on the drastic end of the spectrum, the reality is many Central Iowans live with dry air during the winter. But they don’t have to. I’m revealing some secrets to help you be more comfortable in your home this winter.

Here are some “shocking” truths about humidifying the air in your home.

• Humans like humidity at 50 percent — but buildings don’t.
People are most comfortable when relative humidity is at 50 percent. However, if that’s the level in your home, condensation can get inside the walls — leading to mold.

• Do you know the Rule of 35s?
When the outdoor temperature is 35 degrees F, the humidity inside your home should be 35 percent. As it gets colder outside, the humidity level inside needs to decrease, and as it gets warmer outside, the humidity level inside can go up.

• Look for moisture on your windows.
A little bit of moisture on the bottom of your window can be a sign of good humidity level. If your windows develop frost or moisture higher than 0.5 inches above the bottom, the humidity level is too high.

• Humidity can’t be controlled like temperature.
When you set the temperature for a room, you expect it to stay the same. However, if you put a small humidifier in one room, you can’t expect the humidity to stay in the room. Humidity, unlike temperature, will escape into the walls. (Again, this has the possibility of creating mold.)

• Check for air leaks — and seal them.
Obvious culprits for allowing dry air into your home are doors and windows. But did you know that electrical boxes for recessed lights or outlets are typically not insulated? These may seem small, but the extra air coming in can add up.

• Whole home humidification is a great option for older homes.
Homes built more than 20 years ago are good candidates for whole home humidification. Oftentimes older homes aren’t sealed perfectly, which allows that cold, dry air to leak into the house. When Bell Brothers Heating and Air Conditioning installs a whole home humidifier, we set the outdoor temperature sensor to meet the Rule of 35s.

• Newer homes actually need to be de-humidified in the winter.
Homes built in the last decade are sealed very well with few places for air to sneak inside. This can cause humidity levels to be too high in the winter.

If you’d like to discuss humidity control options for your home, please contact a Bell Brothers professional.