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CleanAir Solutions Blog

December 2017

When Is Enough Humidity Too Much? How to Fix Window Condensation

window condensation

We’ve all seen it—the window pane that looks like it’s sweating.

As homeowners facing off against windows dripping with condensation, we may not know that the culprit is something we’ve been told is actually good and healthy for us during the dry winter season: humidity!

If you have been trying to add back humidity into your home’s indoor air but your windows are now starting to fog up and drip as a result, you are not alone, and there IS a way to fix it.

Read on to learn more about what causes window condensation and the best solution for it.

Window Condensation Explained

Whether your home is a new construction and built to be air-tight or you live in an older home with air leaks galore, the root cause of condensation problems usually boils down to ventilation.

Specifically, when there is a lack of ventilation (incoming fresh air to refresh the stale air inside your home) window condensation is frequently the result.

So how does condensation occur, specifically?

When the warm air inside your home reaches your window panes, it makes contact with the cold air outside via the surface of the window itself.

The interaction between these two air sources is what causes window condensation to develop.

(By the way, the exact opposite happens in summer when you have a full glass of a delicious icy beverage and you take it outside on the sunny porch to enjoy. The cool glass makes contact with the warm, moist outdoor air and voila! Condensation forms on the outside of the glass.)

This handy formula sums up what you need to remember:

Warm, moist indoor air + cold, dry outdoor air = window condensation

Balancing Indoor Humidity Levels to Avoid Condensation

If you have been following this blog for some time now, you are aware that the ideal humidity level for your indoor air all year long is between 30 and 50 percent.

With indoor air that contains more than 50 percent humidity, you risk the growth of mould and mildew and the health issues this brings. With indoor air containing less than 30 percent humidity, you risk respiratory distress and damaged furniture, as well as an increased fire risk.

But what if your home is averaging a healthy winter range of 40 to 50 percent humidity and your windows are still condensing?

The solution here is twofold: increase the ventilation and decrease the humidity.

It probably sounds too simple to be true, but you will know you have reached the right level of indoor humidity and ventilation for your home when your windows no longer fog up and drip with moisture.

For some homes—and in particular the newer homes that are constructed to eliminate air leaks—natural ventilation is so rare that it simply isn’t possible to elevate the indoor humidity levels much beyond 30 percent without enduring window condensation as a by-product.

So as you back off the humidity level inside your home and increase fresh air ventilation, you will eventually arrive at that point where your air smells fresh and your windows are sweat-free.

Adding Back Humidity Without Triggering Window Condensation

Of course, when you are playing this type of balancing act between humidity and ventilation, ultimately the biggest loser will be your respiratory health. Thirty percent humidity is at the very low end of what is considered healthy to help your immune system repel germs and allergens.

Here, it can often feel like you are in a catch-22 situation.

On the one hand, if you increase your indoor humidity, then you say hello to mould and mildew colonies growing around your windows and in between your walls, rotting your wood and drywall day by day and emitting spores that make you and your family sick.

Clearly, this is not a good situation!

But then again, if you decrease your indoor humidity, the rest of your furniture and furnishings, particularly anything made of wood, can warp and crack, and your respiratory passages will be too dry to be able to fight off allergens and the notorious cold and flu season germs.

This is also not a good situation!

The Hero That Saves the Day: Ventilation!

Ventilation is the key to bolstering your health and reducing or eliminating window condensation in winter. Ventilation can solve a multitude of home problems that otherwise tend to seem un-fixable.

There are four main ways that a home can receive ventilation (fresh air from a fresh source—typically outside air):

  1. Fresh outside air sneaks into your home through leaky weather-stripping, old caulking, and other natural openings around doors, windows, and panels.

  2. You manually open doors and/or windows to let the fresh outside air into your home.

  3. You install exhaust vents in high humidity rooms (bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, etc.) to release excess humidity outside your home.

  4. You install a mechanical ventilation system such as a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) that ensures ongoing, even ventilation throughout your home.

All four of these options can help keep the window condensation issue in check.

However, mechanical ventilation (#4) is the only option that doesn’t require you to open your home’s doors and windows in deep winter just to let in some fresh indoor air.

Give Us a Call

Heat/energy recovery ventilation systems are so good at balancing humidity with warmth they can lower your heating bill even as they eliminate window condensation.

To learn more and receive a free quote, give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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The Many Health Benefits of a Whole Home Humidifier System

hygrometer thermometer

If you have lived in the Ontario area for any length of time, you already know that we definitely get all four seasons here!

Spring tends to be cool and rainy. Summer is hot and humid. Fall is rainy and cool.

And winter… well, winter is dry and COLD.

What this means is, for about 9 months out of the average year, getting sufficient humidity is not a problem. If anything, you might find yourself wishing for a little less humidity, especially during the steamy summer months!

But in winter, the humidity drops as sharply as the temperature. Suddenly, our skin and lips are dry, cracked and painful. Everything we touch seems to crackle with static electricity.

Worst of all, our dried-out respiratory tissues can’t fight off the cold and flu germs, sending us to bed with a big box of tissues for company.

How can a whole home humidifier system help? Read on to find out!

Humidity: Too Much Versus Too Little

As with many things in life, the key to receiving health benefits from humidity is to take in the right amount.

If there is too much, you feel sweaty, damp, and uncomfortable. If there is too little, you feel dried out, parched, and uncomfortable.

Of course, you can’t control what nature decides to do. It might rain one day, with humidity levels skyrocketing to 70 or 80 percent. But then it might be dry for a week after, with humidity levels plunging into the 10 to 20 percent range.

Luckily, at least you can control the humidity in your indoor air. This way, if being outdoors is uncomfortable and unhealthy, you can retreat indoors to re-establish a healthy balance.

So what is the right amount of humidity for your indoor air?

According to the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CHMC), keeping indoor air humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent is optimal for the health of both the structure and its inhabitants.

When humidity stays at 50 percent or lower, there is a greatly reduced risk of mildew and mould, window condensation, wood rot, unpleasant odours and allergies.

In the same way, when humidity stays at 30 percent or higher, the risk of dry skin, chapped lips, asthma attacks, cold and flu, static electricity and sparks, and physical dehydration lessens significantly.

Measuring Your Indoor Humidity Levels

There is an easy way to figure out the average humidity levels inside your home.

All you need is a small, inexpensive handheld device called a “hygrometer.”

The hygrometer does just two things:

  1. It measures the temperature.

  2. It measures the humidity.

You can get an analog (mechanical) or digital hygrometer—either will work.

What is really interesting about using a hygrometer is that you will immediately start to see that different areas of your home have very different levels of humidity.

For instance, the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, attic, and basement tend to be naturally more humid areas in a home. In contrast, the living room, family room, bedrooms, and foyer tend to be naturally less humid areas in a home.

Knowing this, you can begin using your new hygrometer to measure humidity levels from one area to the next. It can also be helpful to know where humidity tends to be higher or lower throughout your home naturally as a kind of early warning system to help you detect emerging problems.

For example, perhaps your basement is typically around 50 percent humidity. But then suddenly when you go to measure it one day, the humidity has jumped up to 60 percent. This can be a warning sign that something is amiss. Perhaps there is a water leak somewhere that is causing an increase in damp conditions.

In the same way, maybe one day you go to measure the humidity levels in your bedroom and notice they have dropped from 40 to 30 percent. This too can be a warning sign. Maybe there is an air leak in one of the window seals that is admitting the cold, dry winter air.

Regulating Your Indoor Air Humidity

A hygrometer can tell you more about your current indoor air humidity levels and identify areas of your home that tend to be more or less humid.

This can be very useful to troubleshoot problems such as potential air or water leaks that need fixing. But it can’t do anything to regulate your overall indoor air humidity levels.

For this, you need what is called a whole home humidification system. A whole home humidifier can help ensure you have sufficient humidity in your indoor air to keep you and your family healthy all year round.

In the winter, you may need to run the humidifier more frequently to compensate for the drying properties of heat. In the summer, you may not need to run the humidifier at all. In the spring and fall, you may find you need more humidity on certain days or weeks as the weather dictates.

A whole home humidifier can provide all of these health benefits and more:

  • Moistens respiratory tissues to boost resistance to cold and flu germs and allergens.

  • Keeps lips, extremities, and skin moist and youthful looking.

  • Eases the threat of nosebleeds and asthma attacks.

  • Lessens sparking and static electricity, both of which are home fire risks.

  • Keeps real wood furnishings from drying out and cracking.

Last but not least, a whole home humidifier system can help you save on winter heating costs. For example, adding just 10 percent humidity back to your indoor air can help it feel up to 10 degrees warmer than the reading on your thermostat!

Save 20 Percent on a New Whole Home Humidifier

Right now, save 20 percent on your purchase of a whole home humidifier purchase and installation with our December Deals promotion!

Give us a call at 905-544-2470 to learn more and claim your 20 percent discount!

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How Cleaner Indoor Air Can Ease These 4 Common Winter Health Issues

itchy skin

Are you a “summer person” or a “winter person”? Most people have a favorite season, and often one reason for this is that they feel healthier during that time of year!

If you are a summer person, chances are that the shorter daylight hours, less purifying UV sunlight, drier climate, cold temperatures, and influx of cold and flu germs are part of why you prefer your weather warm rather than cold.

But in truth, even if you prefer winter weather, you probably often wish you could stay healthier during your favorite time of year so you could enjoy it more!

Happily, there is one surefire way to boost your immune system and fight back against wintertime health hazards, as this article explains!

Do You Suffer From These Winter Health Issues?

These major cold-weather health issues can make winter more of a misery than a joy!

Cold and flu

Every year, millions of people contract one of many strains of the flu virus. Some people get the flu shot to help prevent it, but this only works if the shot matches the type of flu germs encountered, which health experts can’t always predict in advance.

As well, Canadian health officials are predicting this year’s flu season to be particularly virulent, which is never a good thing to hear!

The biggest challenge in controlling flu outbreaks each winter is combatting how these germs travel—that is, through the air.

Asthma attacks

If your asthma symptoms worsen when the temperatures drop, chances are good there are three main factors at work: drier air, changes in air temperature, and an increase in airborne dust and allergens.

These three factors also frequently intersect, such as when you turn on your furnace for the first time, which dries out the air and lowers indoor air humidity levels while at the same time releasing a cloud of stored-up dust and allergens.

Skin irritation

Skin irritation, including dryness, itching, rashes, and flare-ups of chronic conditions such as eczema and psoriasis are also more common in cold weather conditions.

Some people even develop winter hives, a condition doctors call urticaria.

Regardless of what your particular cold-weather skin issue may be, there is a good chance the dry air, hot showers (warm is good, hot is not good), chemical additives in certain skin products and certain fabrics, and an overactive immune system are at least partly to blame.

Arthritis

At its core, arthritis is simply inflammation in the joint area. It can happen at any time of year, but many sufferers feel their symptoms more keenly during the winter.

Part of the reason for this is that the worse you feel, the less you are inclined to move and exercise, which can alleviate the pain and swelling of arthritis. Also, the damp chill caused by winter storms can make aches and pains feel more painful.

But the biggest culprit may be a weakened immune system that is already stressed and overworked fighting off cold and flu germs.

The Healing Power of Cleaner Indoor Air

Cleaner indoor air cannot take away your asthma, arthritis, skin condition (if chronic), or flu. But it sure can help lessen symptoms and reduce the risk that you will contract illness.

Perhaps the number one biggest benefit of cleaning up your indoor air will be to give your immune system a leg up against the competition each winter.

The stronger your immune system, the less likely that germs or allergens will cause it to overreact, which is what causes allergies and cold and flu symptoms.

Cleaner indoor air can also lessen your contact with airborne germs and allergens and, if paired with humidity adjustment, can help reduce the incidence of physical inflammation and systemic tissue dryness.

How to Clean & Purify Your Winter Indoor Air

Today’s indoor air purification methods are easy and effective, and they work just as well during the spring, summer, and fall seasons as they do in winter!

Ultraviolet purification

Even today, there is still no man-made technology that can outperform the sun’s ultraviolet rays as an agent of purification. UV light literally neutralizes toxins, allergens, and germs on contact.

HEPA filtration

HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration was invented during World War II, and there hasn’t been anything since that has been able to beat its filtration abilities.

A HEPA filter, whether installed on a home comfort (A/C and heating) system or vacuum cleaner, can filter out unwelcome airborne particulate matter as small as 1/100th of a single human hair!

Humidification/dehumidification

Seasonal shifts in humidity can cause a range of uncomfortable physical symptoms, from increased respiratory infections to skin rashes.

Whole home humidifiers and dehumidifiers adjust your indoor air humidity levels as needed to keep within the optimal range of 30 to 50 percent humidity all year long.

Heat recovery ventilation

A heat recovery ventilator is a wonderful appliance designed to work with any home comfort (A/C and heating) system to keep incoming air fresh and oxygenated and to ensure stale outgoing air never sneaks back inside.

Give Us a Call

Save 20 percent on any indoor air quality (IAQ) equipment with our Breathe Clean Air Event, which is going on now!

Give us a call at 905-544-2470 for help ensuring your seasonal air is clean and pure!

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