How Humidity Impacts Your Home and Your Health

There’s definitely healing properties to being in proximity to the ocean and that breeze. There’s something about that Caribbean climate and humidity. – Johnny Depp

Yes, there’s something very special and “healing” about the ocean, our Florida climate and even the humidity, that stretches from the Atlantic to the Caribbean and around to the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, the warm climate is why we live, work and play here on the best coast!

As the temperatures rise, however, that “healing” humidity can present real challenges that encompass much more than just bad hair days.

What is humidity?

“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” If you live in Florida, you’ve probably heard that phrase uttered a time or two. Humidity is measured as the amount of moisture or water vapor in the air. The higher the humidity, the muggier it will feel indoors and out.

Levels of humidity in the Tampa Bay area can easily reach 90%, primarily due to our surrounding coastal waters and sea breezes. As warm westerly winds pass over the gulf, they absorb water vapor which increases the dew point, or the temperature the air needs to reach in order to achieve “Relative Humidity” of 100%, at which point the vapor changes to precipitation. The higher the dew point temperature, the higher the level of moisture in the air.

How does humidity impact your home interior?

“Humidity is blamed for all kinds of negative things, including mold in your house (usually the bathroom, where it’s wet a lot of the time), as well as malfunctions in regular household electronics. Moisture from humid air settles or condenses, on electronics. This can interrupt the electric current, causing a loss of power. Computers and television sets can lose power like this if not protected from the effects of humidity. Living with humidity is easier with the aid of a dehumidifier, which sucks the moisture out of the air,” according to National Geographic.

A dehumidifier is exactly what the name implies. It is a mechanical device that pulls the water vapor from the air and converts it to a liquid form that collects in a tank. When the tank is full of water, simply dump the water and return the tank to the dehumidifier. Dryer air will ensure your electronic devices are not damaged by moisture in the air, and porous surfaces do not host mold and mildew.

How does humidity impact your health?

Have you heard meteorologists share a “feels like” temperature – or heat index – when they report the weather? The heat index becomes higher when the air is more humid. For example, when the temperature is 95 degrees, and the relative humidity is 30%, the “feels like” temperature will be 95 degrees. However, when the humidity goes up, the heat index follows making 95 degrees feel like 115!

When the relative humidity is high, our bodies have a tougher time cooling down, because sweat does not have anywhere to evaporate, so it stays on our skin making us feel hot, sticky, and uncomfortable.

“High humidity makes us feel hotter and uncomfortable, but it also causes our core temperature to rise, causing our bodies to compensate by working harder and harder to cool us down. When sweating doesn’t work to cool us down and our bodies continue to heat up, it can result in overheating, which causes loss of the water, salt, and chemicals that the body needs. Overheating, or as it is more commonly known as, heat exhaustion, can lead to dehydration, chemical imbalances within the body, or in severe cases, death,” says Achoo Allergy, a fast-growing company devoted to allergy, asthma, sinus, and environmental control products.

Not having the ability to cool down causes the body some serious health problems.

  • Heat Cramps: We’ve seen it happen to athletes when they are competing. Hot humid conditions can lead to muscle cramps, especially in the legs, because of temporary imbalances in body salts.
  • Fainting: Heat and humidity can cause a quick drop in blood pressure during exercise that can lead to fainting.
  • Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion occurs due to losses of fluids and salt through perspiration. These losses cause dizziness and weakness when they are not properly replaced.  In some cases, hospitalization is required.
  • Heat Stroke: Extreme heat can sometimes upset the body’s internal thermostat, causing the body temperature to rise to 105° or higher, causing lethargy, confusion, and unconsciousness. If there is the slightest suspicion that heatstroke may be occurring, call 911 or render medical aid immediately.

Humidity also impacts individuals with allergies, asthma, and respiratory issues, because it directly affects allergens indoors through the exacerbated growth of dust mites and mold colonies due to the heavy amounts of moisture in the air.

How do you control humidity in your home?

Considering the effects of humidity on your health and your home, it’s important to know six ways you can control the humidity in your home environment:

  • Maintain your central air conditioning unit
  • Purchase a dehumidifier
  • Consider installing a thermostat that helps with humidity control
  • Use ceiling fans and ventilation fans, especially in the kitchen and bath
  • Take shorter, cooler showers
  • Use desiccants, like silica gel, throughout your home to absorb moisture

A central air conditioning system does more than simply cool your home. It also pulls moisture from the air to control humidity and achieve maximum home comfort. With proper routine maintenance, your air conditioner will work smarter, not harder, and your home will be a haven of refuge from the humidity!

We truly care about your health and well-being and that of your family. If your home comfort is compromised by humidity because your air conditioning system is not sufficiently removing humidity from the air in your home, our experienced service technicians are maintenance and repair experts for central air conditioners in the Tampa Bay area.

Proficient Air in Palm Harbor offers a variety of high-quality air conditioning systems, as well as routine maintenance contracts, that are specifically tailored to meet your needs and budget. Contact Proficient Air when it’s time for air conditioning maintenance, air conditioner repairs, or a brand new air conditioning system installation in the Tampa Bay area.

Sources:

National Geographic

Achoo Allergy