How to Know if the Air in Your House is Too Dry

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In winter, we keep the windows and doors shut, run the furnace all the time, use our fireplaces and create really dry air inside our homes. That warm and toasty home feels good when it’s cold outside. But here are some signs the air in your home is too dry:

  1. Getting Zapped

Static electricity is a sign of over-dryness. What does that look like in real life? Do you ever get zapped when you touch someone or something? That transfer of static electricity could be an indication your home is too dry.

  1. Breathing Trouble

When it’s dry in our homes, those who live there are much more likely to wake up feeling stuffy. If you’re waking up in the mornings with a dry throat and nose, or if you’re feeling stuffy on regular occasions, it’s likely your home is too dry.

  1. Dry Skin and Lips

It’s not just the morning time when you can notice signs your home is too dry. If you feel like your skin and lips are overly dry, those could be indications your home is lacking the appropriate amount of moisture.

  1. Warping Wood, Cracking Paint

If your home is overly dry, you’ll start to notice that your hardwood floors are contracting and perhaps warping. You may also notice cracking paint. A natural and normal level of moisture is required to maintain the health of home items like hardwood and paint, and these signs are small warnings that something needs to be done.

The Effects of Low Moisture Levels

Dry air inside your home isn’t just a minor inconvenience. It can lead to mild to serious health effects you want to avoid for yourself and for your family.

  • Reduce Effectiveness of Your Mucous Membranes: Dry air can wear down your mucous membrane, which serves as a natural barrier against inflammation of the respiratory tract. The result? You’re more likely to get infections, cold and even the flu. Some studies show that dry air helps the flu last even longer than it would otherwise. Given that you’re more likely to experience dry air in wintertime (also flu season), this threat shouldn’t go unnoticed.
  • Dry, Itchy Skin: You may also experience what’s called “winter itch” if your home is lacking in moisture. Winter itch is simply the impact of overly dry skin that is nearly depleted of moisture. Pathogens can also enter and infect your body through cracked skin, which means that dry air can further increase the chances of infection.
  • Increased Nosebleeds: Dry air is also one of the leading causes of nosebleeds. Make sure you’re preventing you and your family from experiencing any of these symptoms by keeping your home’s moisture at appropriate levels.

Test Your Moisture Levels

If you’re suspicious about your home’s moisture level, there are a few simple ways to test it out. First try a hygrometer, which is like a thermometer, except it measures moisture levels rather than temperature.

Your home should sit somewhere between 30 and 50 percent humidity. If it’s measuring below 30 percent, you may need to invest in a humidifier. If it’s over 50 percent, you may need to invest in a dehumidifier. You’re much more likely to need a humidifier in winter and a dehumidifier in summer.

Solutions for the Dryness

If you’re not ready to spring for a humidifier, try a do-it-yourself solution. Consider placing open containers — like plastic bowls — filled with water in rooms around your house. Fill them up each day. If you notice that the water is quickly evaporating in the dry winter months, you may need to take the extra step of investing in a humidifier.

Make sure your home and the people who live in it are fully protected from dry air when you address your moisture levels.

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