Have you taken any steps recently to ensure your building occupants have healthy, safe, and clean air?
Many times building occupants don’t know a lot about what truly makes for comfortable and clean air.
They may only recognize temperature (how hot or cold they feel) or they may recognize, in some cases, the amount of humidity outside and possibly inside your building as impacting their comfort levels.
It helps to educate building occupants on what it means when we strive for so-called “healthy air.” That includes air that is clean, airborne pollutant-free, fresh, and has proper humidity levels. Add temperature to the list and you’re closer to a state where people can look at what it means to be comfortable in any given space.
So what exactly do proper humidity levels mean? Let’s take a closer look.
Relative Humidity & Your Indoor Air
As many of you know already, the air can hold a certain amount of moisture in it. Depending on the area and environmental conditions, the air can vary in how much water vapor it can hold, but as we all know, warmer air tends to be able to hold more moisture in it.
That’s where humidity comes into play, especially in Cincinnati. When we talk about “relative humidity” we’re referring to the measure of the amount of moisture in the air—relative to the amount of water vapor the air can hold before it’s saturated. In theory, because relative humidity (or “RH” as it can be called) is a percentage.
In general, it’s safe and healthy to maintain indoor relative humidity levels that are below 50%-60%. In our region, we often go above that just because of how much humidity we’re working against.
But once the air is above that 50% level (in the summer months), comfort will suffer. Plus, not only do we just feel less comfortable because of the air quality, but we encourage dust mite infestations, mold and mildew growth and even bacteria are more prone to thrive when the humidity level increases above that threshold.
Having too high of humidity levels in any building is something we want to work against as much as we can, not just for our comfort, but for the health of occupants in the building and for the building itself.
Signs Your Building Could Have Relative Humidity Levels That Are Too High
Measuring humidity levels is always a foolproof way to see the state of the building’s air. But it’s also great to know about the signs and effects of high humidity in your building. A few factor to watch for:
- Occupants saying they feel like they can’t cool off or that the air feels “sticky”
- Occupants reporting a lack of comfort despite turning down the temperature
- Reported allergic reactions or issues such as itchy eyes or irritated skin
- Condensation or moisture around the windows
- Peeling or “bubbling” wallpaper or paint
- Water stains on ceilings
- Musty smell
- Wood floors are showing signs of cupping, crowning or buckling
- Signs of mold or mildew growth
- More insects reported than normal
The reality is that high humidity (outside a normal zone of 40-60%) can and will cause health problems. If your occupants report any of these kinds of factor—or you see them yourself—take note and take action.
Achieve the Ideal Indoor Humidity Level in Your Building
Minor changes in humidity levels may happen in your building, but what you really want to strive for is consistently safe and comfortable levels to combat any of the issues described.
Although not a comprehensive list, here’s a look at a few of the ways to manage high humidity:
Utilize your exhaust fans consistently. Exhaust fans really do work to get rid of extra, concentrated moisture. Take the time to educate people on the value of consistently using exhaust fans to keep the air cool, healthy, and controlled.
Ensure the AC is staying on (typically on its auto settings). You want the settings on your AC unit to strip the air of moisture and to push that moisture outdoors. Ask us if you have any questions about how you are operating your system so that you aren’t doing anything that works against getting rid of excess moisture.
Make sure ventilation is optimized. Ventilation is obviously critical when it comes to managing and getting rid of too much moisture. In many offices, there can be certain rooms or spaces that have poor ventilation and these can be the areas that require extra attention since mold or mildew can start anywhere.
Think of it this way: if you make the invest in proper ventilation, you will have improved air quality, more controlled humidity levels, ideal air pressure, and even better temperature regulation.
Turn on or invest in a commercial dehumidifier. A dehumidifiers actively works to reduce humidity levels, meaning your space will be less appealing for allergens such as dust mites, mold, and more. Also remember a dehumidifier lowers energy costs because your AC will actually be able to work more efficiently with this kind of “boost.”
If you aren’t the property or facility manager and don’t have the power to make this kind of investment for the facility, it may mean you need a portable unit for your office.
Commercial HVAC & Indoor Air Solutions for Your Building
Greater Comfort is your go-to resource for dependable HVAC services, support, regular maintenance, and indoor air quality solutions. From install to repair—and from maintenance to innovative solutions to help you keep your occupants safe and healthy—we’re here to help you with all your commercial heating and cooling needs.
To get a free estimate for your business, contact us or call 859-491-4915.