When you own a log home an essential aspect of caring for it is maintaining proper humidity levels all year round but more so during the winter months. Monitoring safe humidity levels can prevent loose joints in wooden furniture, static electricity, and other health related problems. Especially in newly constructed homes humidity levels are often quite high for the first few years because the masonry releases an abundance of moisture as it cures, which builds up as condensation on the windows. Stabilizing the levels of humidity in your log home can be achieved by following certain tricks.
The Effects of Abnormal Humidity Levels
Since you spend a lot of time indoors, a comfortable and healthy home environment has to be maintained by keeping a check on humidity levels. The good health of the wood in your log home will ensure your family’s comfort too. Low humidity often results in additional checking or large cracks in logs and beams.
Your log home is just like your body, when it’s cold out there is a lack of humidity in the air, which can cause health issues like dry skin, breathing problems, bleeding noses and sore throats, Often old log homes with hot furnaces dry out the air because of the heat and this lack of moisture in the air can lead to dust buildup, painful static electricity shocks, and cracks and dried-out joints in all wood furnishings.
During summers, the days get longer and warmer and there is an increase in the humidity levels. High humidity in the summer along with the increase in temperature can affect your personal comfort by making the weather feel even hotter.
Guide to Maintaining Humidity Levels
Log timbers shrink as the moisture dries out resulting in the wood adjusting to seasonal weather changes. This can lead to cracks and checks appearing in the wood. While there is no preferred humidity for all log homes, maintaining a constant relative humidity indoors helps prevent checking in the wood. For a comfortable environment that prevents condensation and mold growth, the EPA recommends an ideal relative humidity of 35 to 50 percent for the indoors of a log home. This will improve your comfort level while potentially lowering your energy costs.
Maintaining humidity in colder climates, it is typically more of a problem because colder air can carry less moisture than warm air. The heat from the fireplace drives out even more of the moisture. Try a whole house humidifier system that ties in with your existing forced air heating unit, to maintain humidity in the winter season. A stable temperature from the humidifier will help lower your energy bills too. Humidifier units are affordable and all you have to do is set a humidity level and the unit will take care of the rest.
If your home does not have a forced air system, then portable humidifiers are prescribed to help with your home’s humidity. These units come cheap but you will probably need more than one to extend cover throughout your home. They also need frequent sterile water replenishment. Another option is to install and adjust a humidifier directly to your furnace, which when properly installed will automatically control the proper moisture levels within your home.
While for many log home owners, air conditioners work best to reduce humidity in the summer. If you are located in a very humid place, and the rooms feel stuffy and you see rotting wood, then a dehumidifier system can help, which works contrary to the humidifier. You can set up a preferred humidity and it extracts water from the air to maintain that level. Again, a whole-house system is the preferable option but portable units are much cheaper. They are quite noisy and work without a forced-air system, but their collected water must be drained frequently.
The only way to know for sure whether or not you need a humidifier or dehumidifier is to purchase a hygrometer, which is a special thermometer that can measure the amount of moisture in the air. The humidity levels should be kept as high as possible without creating condensation issues. Hygrometers are designed to monitor these levels and the recommended range for a normal and healthy home is between 35 – 50%. Consider buying a humidifier if your home is below 30% humidity and if it’s over 50% then a dehumidifier is your best choice.
Now that you are aware of the effects of low and high humidity levels, you will be able to make a conscious and educated decision when it comes to choosing a humidifier or dehumidifier for your log home.