Dry air is something that many homeowners 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 may quite the daunting task, as your home becomes dry due to the outside air entering into your home. So, as the seasons move from cold to warm in good ol' Australia, here are some suggestions to combat dryness in the air this spring for the dryer regions of Oz.
Why is your home dry?
Most homes “dry out” in the winter as the air outside gets colder and drier. When cold air enters your home, it automatically causes a drying effect because it is generally unable to retain moisture. After the air enters into your home and subsequently heats up while mixing with the warm air already there, your moisture levels may begin to plummet.
“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, an expert 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.”
Symptoms of Having Dry Air at Home
Cold, dry air pulls moisture from your mouth and nose, leaving your nasal passages dried out and your throat dry. Dry nostrils are more likely to crack and give you a nosebleed.
Because your nose needs gooey mucus to trap viruses and other icky invaders before they can get you sick, dry nostrils can also make you more vulnerable to colds, sinus infections, and the flu. That's especially a problem in winter, when bacteria and viruses can tend to linger longer in the dry air after someone coughs or sneezes.
When you turn up the thermostat in your home, your heating system kicks up clouds of dust, pollen, and other allergens that can inflame your sinuses. Cold, dry air plus those allergens can also irritate your airways. For some people with asthma, cold and dry air can lead to a narrowing of breathing passages and trigger an attack.
Reduce the Air Leaving or Entering Your Home
Because dry homes are attributed to how much outside air sneaks into your home, a “leaky home” will dry out faster than a well-sealed home. That’s why it is of paramount importance to seal up your house. This helps your home retain more moisture within. 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 your home.
“Remember that whatever air leaves the home has to be replaced with air infiltrating the home through cracks and crevices,” says expert Keith. “Seal up those leaks and limit the air leaving, and the moisture level will be easier to maintain.”
How to Humidify Your Home
Get houseplants. Transpiration is the process by which moisture evaporates from the leaves and stems of plants, adding much needed humidity to the air in your home. A dry home can be tough on houseplants as the battle for humidity wages, so be sure to keep them well watered.
Vases in sunny places: Place water-filled vases on sunny window sills. The sunshine will slowly evaporate the water, releasing moisture into the air.
Stove-top cooking: Increase your stove-top cooking to take advantage of incidental moisture release. Switching to a tea kettle instead of relying on the microwave to heat your morning cup goes a long way.
Leave the door open when showering: When taking a nice, steamy shower, leaving the door open is an easy way to add a little extra moisture to the air in surrounding areas. If baths are more your bag, don’t drain the tub when you get out. Instead, wait for the water to cool first to take advantage of the residual heat to add a little humidity to the air.