Dry air is something that many homes have to deal with, especially when it’s cold out. But even as we head into spring, the task of adding humidity to our homes never ends. Air entering your home is what makes it dry out. So, as the seasons move from cold to warm in Minnesota, here are some suggestions to combat dry air during the spring.
“Cold air contains little moisture as it takes heat energy to keep the moisture in suspension, so cold air entering the home in winter or spring will dry it out,” says Keith Hill, our resident expert and manager of technical support at Minnesota Air. “Spring air is not so cold, so the moisture content is not as low as winter outside air which makes it less of a problem, but the solutions are the same.”
Reduce Air Leaving/ Entering The Home
It’s important to seal up the envelope of the home. This helps the home hold more moisture inside. In order to do this, look for cracks in the foundation, gaps around windows and doors, and if you have an attached garage, don’t forget about the service door. This door is especially important to seal, as it may also allow fumes from your automobile to enter the home.
“Remember that whatever air leaves the home has to be replaced with air infiltrating the home through cracks and crevices,” says Keith. “Seal up those leaks and limit the air leaving, and the moisture level will be easier to maintain.”
Fireplace or Exhaust Flue?
As temperatures warm up, you may be tempted to turn off your furnace and use your fireplace to heat your home, and that’s fine, but know that if you have a wood-burning fireplace, the chimney could be working as an exhaust flue even when it’s not in use.
“Homes that have wood fireplaces can be very dry, particularly if the fireplace does not have well-sealed glass doors,” says Keith. “Many think that wood heat is hotter and that dries the home. It’s actually the open fireplace allowing warm air into the chimney, which essentially becomes an exhaust device.”
He says that when you’re not using the fireplace, the indoor air – which is warm and humid – tends to be drawn from the house continuously, and that puts the home into a negative pressure, which causes more outside air to come in and more of a drying effect.
In the spring, we begin to see more moisture in our air naturally, but that doesn’t mean we have the full-on humidity that comes in summer. It’s important to know that moisture can be generated from the things we do in our homes, like cooking, cleaning, bathing, etc. – and if you need more consistent moisture, you can use a humidifier.
Keith suggests getting a portable or a central humidifier – the latter, which is connected to your ductwork. Portable units are cheaper, but require more daily maintenance to change the water and clean the filter. They are also less controllable, and are more likely to spill accidentally, Keith says.
A central duct-mounted unit works automatically, and some are able to adjust humidity controls through the use of sensors that can be very precise. They also need a filter change, but not as often.
Combat dry air and you’ll feel much more comfortable in your home until summer comes. If you’d like to read even more ways to stop dry air in your home, check out our other article on humidity issues.