How to lower the humidity in your house

Dos and don'ts to help you reduce humidity room by room
By
Updated on May 16, 2024
Written by
Jeff Somers
Jeff has been writing for HouseFresh since 2023. He lives in Hoboken, NJ with his wife and their cats, and has published nine novels and more than fifty short stories. In addition to writing for HouseFresh, Jeff also covers topics connected to home ownership for Lifehacker,
TL;DR

High humidity inside the home is caused by a variety of factors, including poor ventilation, moisture-producing activities like long showers, and imperfect seals around doors and windows.

Exposure to high humidity (a dew point over 50°) can lead to health issues, including fatigue, fainting, or even heat stroke, and can physically damage the home itself.

Humidity in your home can be reduced to safer, more comfortable levels by dealing with leaks, adjusting behaviors that produce moisture, and improving airflow.

Dehumidifiers can be very effective at managing dampness in the home, but you must be careful to choose an appropriate model for the room’s size and humidity level.

When we think about being comfortable in our homes, we often focus on the temperature. While it’s true that an uncomfortably hot house makes it difficult to enjoy our home, high humidity also has a powerful impact on our comfort. 

High indoor humidity can also cause a long list of negative effects on our health and the health of our property, even if the temperature is maintained at a comfortable level. Luckily, if the humidity in your house is too high, there are several steps you can take to reduce it, from lifestyle changes to technological solutions like dehumidifiers.

How to reduce humidity room by room

If your humidity problems are centered on one specific area of your house, you can apply more targeted solutions:

🛁 Reducing humidity in your bathroom

Bathrooms are naturally humid spaces. If your bathroom doesn’t have a ventilation fan or window, consider installing one to improve ventilation, or a bathroom dehumidifier that is designed to keep a smaller room clean without being very large and running without making too much noise.

If it does have a ventilation fan, inspect it to see where it vents to; many older homes vented these fans into attics or crawl spaces instead of outside the home. If that’s the case, you may need to install ductwork to direct humid air outside the house. 

🍳 Reducing humidity in your kitchen

If your kitchen has a vented hood over the stove, running it more often or at a higher setting can help pull moisture out of the air. Try to fix leaky pipes or taps as soon as you uncover them to keep kitchen moisture under control.

🚪Reducing humidity in your basement

Moisture rises from the ground under your home and can infiltrate your foundation walls. Inspect for water intrusion, looking for staining, damp areas, or persistent puddling and repair as needed. A vapor barrier on the ground will block moisture.

Tip
  • A dehumidifier designed specifically for basements can be a worthwhile investment.

🏠 Reducing humidity in your attic

The hot, moist air in your home will rise into your attic, where it can be trapped. Roof leaks can also contribute to the humidity levels in an attic. Repairing leaks and sealing air gaps can improve humidity levels. A dehumidifier can also be very helpful. 

🧦 Reducing humidity in your laundry

One of the main culprits for humidity in a laundry room is inadequate venting of the dryer. Check your dryer to make sure that the vent hose is connected properly and is not blocked by excess lint or other obstructions.

How to reduce moisture levels in the air

If your home experiences high humidity regularly, you can take some general steps to reduce the moisture levels in the air:

  • Improve ventilation and repair leaks. Consider replacing caulk around windows or weather stripping on doors. If you discover a water leak, have it repaired before tackling the humidity issues. You can also run fans and open windows to push humid air out of the house.
  • Alter behaviors. Shorter showers and not drying laundry inside the home can reduce humidity levels noticeably.
  • Air conditioning. Running air conditioners even when the temperature is not too high outside will help dry out the air in your home. Some AC systems also come with a specific dehumidifying setting.
  • Baking soda or rock salt. Many substances absorb moisture from the air naturally, but baking soda or rock salt will be the most effective. Fill a container with the material and leave it in the area you need to dry out.
  • Get a dehumidifier. A high-quality dehumidifier can be very effective at reducing humidity in a home. The key is to ensure the dehumidifier’s capacity is appropriate for the space you need to dry out. 

It can be challenging to figure out what’s causing high humidity levels in your house because several things can contribute to humidity levels, including:

  • Activity. Any activity you engage in that produces steam or evaporating water can increase the humidity in the house. These activities include showering, cooking, or hanging laundry to dry inside the home.
  • Poor ventilation. If your house is closed up and air cannot move through the interior, humidity levels can rise because the moisture in the air cannot escape. 
  • Inadequate seal. If the humidity is coming from outside the house, a poorly sealed “building envelope” can be the cause. Checking the seals around windows and doors and repairing old, failing caulk can help keep dry air in and moist air out. 
  • Houseplants. Plants can add beauty to a home and freshen the air—but some houseplants can increase the humidity in your home as they release moisture into the air, while others can reduce humidity by absorbing it. Take stock of your indoor plants and make changes as needed. 
  • Inadequate moisture barriers. A lot of the moisture that finds its way into your home comes up from the ground. 
  • Water leaks. If the high humidity in your home is a new phenomenon, inspect your home for water intrusion. Roof leaks, plumbing leaks inside cabinets or walls, and foundation leaks are common areas of the home where water gets in, damaging the home and raising humidity.

The negative impact of high humidity in your house 

High humidity levels in your home can have several unpleasant impacts on:

1. Your comfort level

Humidity is measured in two ways: Relative humidity and the dew point of the air. The dew point is the best reference for how humidity will feel for you, and anything over 50° will feel increasingly uncomfortable.

2. Your health

High, sustained humidity can have a negative impact on our health. When humidity is high, the sweat on our skin doesn’t easily evaporate, compromising our ability to regulate temperature (this is the heat index—a measurement of what the air temperature actually feels like). 

-Cramps 
-Rash 
-Dehydration 
-Fatigue 
-Fainting and dizziness 
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke

3. Your property 

Almost all of the materials used to construct and finish your home are designed to function in moderate humidity. High humidity in your home can cause a wide range of damage, including:

  • Discoloration
  • Mold growth 
  • Deformed or rotted wood 
  • Peeling or blistering paint 
  • Cracked and crumbling masonry

It’s imperative that you deal with high humidity in your home, even if you aren’t concerned about your comfort.

Final thoughts

High humidity in your home can make what should be a place of enjoyment into an unpleasant experience—and it can put your health and your investment in danger. Managing humidity levels requires a combination of proactive maintenance and repair, mindfulness about water usage, and technologies such as dehumidifiers.

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About the author

Jeff Somers

Jeff has been writing for HouseFresh since 2023. He lives in Hoboken, NJ with his wife and their cats, and has published nine novels and more than fifty short stories. In addition to writing for HouseFresh, Jeff also covers topics connected to home ownership for Lifehacker,

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