Humidity and Its Dangers
October marks the time of year when we send out our yearly reminder to manage your humidity levels in order to help avoid potential cracking in solid wood furniture. For most, these next several months will be the dry ones. Maintaining proper humidity is critical!
If you read no further, at least remember this:
Humidity: Too much or too little is not good for anyone or anything in your home; 40-60% is a good range.
Important Humidity Facts
Warmer months are usually not an issue as most folks run their A/C. This dries the climate and keeps humidity from getting too high. In colder months, the furnace actually causes cold air to expand, creating low moisture content and low humidity. It can be a tricky balancing act, so, here are a few quick tips on how to best maintain and monitor a healthier environment for all. If you’ve not heard the term hygroscopic, it essentially means that wood expands with moisture and contracts when losing moisture. To monitor and control humidity:
- 50%-55% humidity is ideal. Some variations are to be expected, but the further away from the ideal, the higher the risk.
- 40%-60% humidity levels seem to be the more attainable, tolerable range for solid wood furniture.
- Purchasing a humidity gauge (aka hygrometer) allows you to frequently check that levels are in the “safe range.”
- A humidifier is HIGHLY recommended if air is too dry, and a dehumidifier is recommended if humidity is too high.
- Keep furniture away from all heat sources: radiators, heat runs, fireplaces, direct sunlight, etc. Doing so helps prevent drying, cracking, and bleaching.
- If placed near an air duct, use a shield/guard to direct draft away from furniture.
- Store table leaves as close to the table as possible, keeping them in the same stable environment.
- AVOID rapid temperature and humidity changes.
- In addition to protecting your wood furniture, balanced humidity lessens the risk of:
- Bacterial growth: Keeping humidity under 60% is a good defensive barrier against bacterial growth such as mold and fungus. Though adaptable to many conditions, the best breeding ground for bacteria is overly warm and moist areas. Warmth is just a level of comfort for bacteria, but if you take away moisture, bacteria will die off.
- Viruses: At 45%-50%, humidity best curbs the spreading of germs. Too dry conditions actually prolong the life of germs like the flu and aggravaterespiratory problems. If small hair-like fibers lining your nasal passage are not adequately moistened, they cannot properly function and prevent bacteria, germs, dust, and other foreign particles from entering your nasal passages.
- High heating costs: As humid air retains heat better, it acts as an insulator, lowering overall energy usage. Consider a hot, humid summer day vs. a hot, low humidity summer day.
Even if you’re not one for directions, it doesn’t take much to make these few simple changes to protect your wood. We’ve given you the important info, now use it!
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