The Bay Area can experience very dry conditions, which played a large role in the destructive fires that began earlier this week. According to Weather Underground, Concord has an average humidity reading of 54%, and minimum humidity of 18%. In Pleasanton, Rocklin, and San Jose, the humidity is around 15-25%, and with no rain in the near forecast, the very dry conditions will continue.
With humidity levels often falling below 20%, October is generally one of the driest months of the year for Northern California. Wildfires aren’t the only negative effect of low humidity and dry conditions. They can also negatively affect your home, health, and comfort.
Here are some common signs of low humidity in the home:
- Bloody noses
- Chapped and cracked lips
- Dry, itchy skin and eyes
- Cold and flu symptoms
- Itchy throat
- Dry, cracking wood and furniture
- Static electricity
- Allergy and asthma flare-ups
What is humidity?
Humidity represents the amount of water vapor that’s present in the air. This means that the air in humid areas is relatively wetter or moist than the air in areas with low humidity. Humans are generally most comfortable and healthy when humidity levels are between 40-60% relative humidity.
What’s the difference between “absolute humidity” and “relative humidity”? Basically, absolute humidity measures the amount of moisture in the air regardless of the temperature, while relative humidity takes the temperature into account by representing the amount of water vapor as a percentage of the total amount of moisture that can be contained in the air at its current temperature. As a result, relative humidity is a more accurate representation of humidity and the comfort of the air; however, dew point is sometimes cited as the most accurate measurement.
The following factors affect relative humidity levels in the home:
- Ventilation levels
- Outdoor humidity levels
- HVAC performance
- Use of appliances, showers, and baths
- Indoor plants
- Cooking and other domestic activities
What are the effects of dry air and low humidity?
You may have heard of complaints from people living in humid environments. They are usually concerned about their skin getting sticky at the end of a hot day, having difficulty styling their hair, or finding mold growing under their kitchen sink cabinets.
But let us not forget about the disadvantages of low humidity and dry air. Have you ever woken up with dry skin, dry eyes, or chapped lips? Do you have recurring allergic reactions that result in coughing, sore throats, or allergy and asthma attacks? Because of the low amount of moisture in the air, your nasal passages and respiratory system dry out, therefore causing these allergies and making your health suffer.
The time might come when you’ll find your wooden floors, drywalls, furniture or wooden instruments dried out and cracked, too. Paper, books, and magazines will become brittle because of low humidity, especially important for book and art collectors. You may even have problems with the presence of high static electricity which can give you a literal shock and worsen the effects of headaches, skin irritation, and other ailments.
The truth is that both high and low levels of relative humidity in the home can have adverse effects on your health, home, and comfort. For hygiene, health, comfort, and financial reasons, it’s important to maintain optimal indoor humidity levels. But this can be very difficult to accomplish without some sort of humidification system in place.
When the weather gets cold, you’ll definitely use your heating system to keep you warm. However, the hot air coming from your furnace and the cold temperature outside can result in condensation which then leads to the reduction of moisture in the air. Thus, you’ll get the same effects on your health and your property. This is why you should have a furnace humidifier installed for your home and business.
What is a furnace humidifier?
A furnace humidifier is a device set up together with your heating system. It’s specially designed to humidify your home uniformly since the humidified air gets distributed throughout the entire duct system. These in-built humidifiers don’t release any dangerous hot steam in contrast to portable steam vaporizers which can be dangerous around young children.
Your whole-home furnace humidifier uses several components to be able to serve its purpose. These include a humidistat which controls the humidity setting, a water control valve or float, a water collection medium and of course, water to create vapor. Opposed to other humidifiers that only work for one room at a time, a central humidifier system can create a healthy and comfortable environment for the entire home.
The HVAC humidifier will ensure that you stay healthy and comfortable even during dry fall and winter months. It will prevent the adverse effects of low humidity on your health. Your allergies will be thwarted and you’ll have healthier skin and hair. That means less money spent on lotions, conditioners, chap stick, and other short-term relief products. You also won’t have to worry about getting zapped by static electricity or about your property getting damaged.
A whole-home humidifier is an easy and effective way to avoid winter ills and infections and keep the wooden flooring and fixtures in shape. Contact the HVAC professionals at Service Champions for more information on how whole-home humidification systems work to maintain healthy indoor humidity levels year-round.