The holidays are upon us, and as we bustle around the house hanging festive decorations and preparing for holiday guests, it’s easy to forget about one of your homes main focal points; the flooring. While your holiday décor may look spectacular, neglecting your floors can put a big damper on your homes overall appearance. Knowing that you’re going to want to impress your holiday guests, taking into consideration the humidity levels in your home will help maintain the tight spacing in your hardwood floors.
With the winter weather being in full effect here in the Northeast, that means a warm and cozy but extremely DRY climate in your home. The one thing your hardwood flooring dislikes more than direct water is drastic humidity fluctuation. Remember that hardwood shrinks and contracts in dry climates and swells and expands in climates with high humidity. Being that the month of November this year was mild and not extremely cold, the recent temperature drop surely has everyone turning up the heat in their homes. Even though you may be maintaining your homes temperature, the humidity while the heat is on, is begin taken out of the air more rapidly. The heat in your home acts as a dehumidifier and adds to your hardwood floors’ normal contraction during this time of year. Having a plan in place to control the humidity levels in your home will help to minimize this normal spacing, and ensure your holiday guests rant and rave about how lovely your hardwood floors are.
Ideally, you should try to aim for your homes humidity level to stay between 30 – 50% throughout the year.
There are many different ways to humidify the air in your home during these colder months when the heat is on. You can use a single room humidifier or install a home humidifier connected directly to your HVAC system. These humidifiers work automatically to ensure the air in your home is at an ideal relative humidity level.
Humidity simply refers to the amount of moisture in the air. To be technical for a moment, “relative humidity” is the percentage of water vapor that’s in the air at a certain temperature. When the relative humidity is at 30 percent, for example, the air is holding 30 percent of the moisture it’s capable of containing.
During colder months, the air’s ability to hold water decreases, and during warmer months, it increases. Being that the ideal relative humidity level for the inside of your home is between 30 and 50 percent, it’s important to consider a humidity control unit, simply because it can impact your overall health and comfort. When humidity levels are too high, there is the risk of growing mold and bacteria, causing stuffy nasal conditions and also overall discomfort, not to mention the risk of your hardwood floors expanding and warping. When humidity levels are too low, you risk catching a cold, as well as damaging the finishes inside your home including wood trim, your wood floors, cabinets, even cracking the seams in your drywall.
Beside the most important concerns of your health an comfort, not controlling the humidity levels in your home, and allowing your hardwood floors to do what they naturally do best, (expand and contract), over time, this uncontrolled movement of, not only your floors, but any otter natural wood in your home, will lead to warping. Hardwood flooring is a great investment, so maintaining it is important in order to ensure its longevity.