How to Measure Humidity in Your Home and Keep It in Check

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated July 27, 2022
A woman reading on her tablet at home
Photo: bnenin / Adobe Stock

A hygrometer is the easiest way to measure your home’s humidity, but it’s not your only option

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Like so many things in life, your home’s humidity level requires balance. Too low and your home’s dry air may irritate your sinuses and your houseplants. If it’s too high, you’re more likely to deal with mold, bacteria, and moisture damage. Luckily, it doesn't have to be a guessing game: We cover how to keep humidity in check below.

Methods to Measure Humidity Levels

1. Get a Hygrometer

One of the easiest ways to test your home's humidity level is to head to the hardware store and purchase a hygrometer or indoor humidity monitor. Place this device in each room you want to test and follow the instructions. 

Once you’ve done that, the hygrometer will show your home's humidity level in a percentage format. For most homes, the ideal humidity level is less than 60% during the summer and 25% to 40% during winter.

2. Measure Humidity in Your Home With These Signs

If you don't want to spring for a store-bought device, there are several telltale signs of improper humidity to look out for. 

For example, if you're getting shocked every time you touch a doorknob or if you’re waking up with dry nasal passages every morning, your home's humidity is likely too low. You might also notice that your houseplants are always dry no matter how many times you water them. 

On the other hand, if you see moisture on the inside surface of your windows, your indoor humidity is probably too high. This could also manifest in the form of damp, mildewy odors and premature mold on your bread and produce. Peeling and cracking paint or increasing dust allergies are more signs of high humidity. You can also conduct an easy DIY with plastic sheeting to test your concrete’s moisture level.”

3. Do an Ice Cube Test 

This is a simple way to see humidity in your home. Fill a glass of water and a few ice cubes, then let it sit on a counter or table for five minutes. If condensation forms on the outside of your glass, the humidity is high.

If Your Humidity Level Is Too Low 

1. Run a Humidifier

Cool mist humidifier in a living room
Photo: jipen / Adobe Stock

Whether it’s your hygrometer or just your instincts telling you that your home’s humidity levels are too low, humidifiers can help immensely. You can invest in a whole-house humidifier for maximum effect. If you choose to install a humidifier system, be sure to turn it off during humid summer months.

2. Increase Your Home’s Humidity Naturally

If you're not able to purchase a humidifier at this time, there are other ways to humidify your indoor air naturally. For instance, try dispersing shallow dishes of water throughout your home to help boost the humidity level. You can also leave the door open when you shower and before you empty your dishwasher too. Oh, and green thumbs rejoice: houseplants are an excellent way to humidify your home as well.

If Your Humidity Level Is Too High

1. Increase Your Home’s Ventilation  

Reduce humidity created by indoor sources—like washing machines, dryers, and showers—by ventilating areas where water can quickly accumulate. Improve the ventilation in your home by opening windows, using exhaust fans, and leaving doors open throughout the house for better air circulation.

2. Reduce the Amount of Water Introduced Into Your Home

Humidity and water go hand-in-hand. To prevent your home from turning into a swamp, there are a few ways you can cut down on the water that’s released into the air. 

  • Cook with covered pots so that steam doesn’t flow into your house.

  • Take cooler, shorter showers. 

  • Reduce the amount of plants in your home, as photosynthesis can increase humidity levels.

3. Keep Your A/C System Running 

It’s understandable if you want to cut costs during the summer by leaving your AC off, but note that this can cause humidity levels to jump. Unfortunately, whole-house fans won’t help the situation, as these won’t remove humidity from the air as your HVAC system does. Try to run your AC at least a few times a week to keep levels at bay.

4. Get a Dehumidifier if Levels Are Too High

If your home’s humidity remains high no matter how hard you try to lower it, consider investing in the cost of a whole-house dehumidifier. You can contact an HVAC technician near you to learn more about your options.

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