Do you sometimes turn up the heat more in the winter? According to the industry organization IFI, this can cause a problem. They believe that Norwegians generally have very low humidity in the home.
If you’ve been exposed to static electricity, dry skin on your hands, and irritated airways at home, this is also a sign that indoor air may be too dry.
Air that’s too dry indoors can contribute to floor cracks, baseboard damage, and a bad feel, says IFI technical advisor Chera Westman.
IFI wrote in its press release that the heating we do indoors in winter is not only good for the indoor climate.
– When it’s cold outside, we shoot inside. But it is not at all certain that your furniture, floors, walls, and ceiling appreciate the conditions of summer in the middle of winter. Because when we want it hot, the humidity can drop. The result is that wood floors may crack or begin to creak. Wood panels on the walls can also be affected. The same can cause a leather sofa to dry out and become unsightly. Not to mention the discomfort of staying in a room that’s too dry, they write.
up to 5-7% humidity
Westman says they experience low humidity in many people during the winter.
Norway is extreme here, because many of us heat homes with electric panel heaters and wood burning. It is not uncommon for people to live in homes with a humidity of 5-7%. She says it is not healthy for anyone.
Therefore, it is recommended to purchase a hygrometer.
“This is a simple tool that costs a few hundred dollars and allows you to monitor a hygrometer to see how wet or dry it is,” Westman says.
Øyvind Langelandsvik is a flooring expert and technical officer at Farveringen. Dry rooms are believed to be a challenge in Norway. The humidity in the living room should be somewhere between 30-60%RH. If the room becomes too dry, moisture is drawn from the wood and will shrink. If this occurs over time, permanent damage to the wood may occur. But it’s important to stress that in most cases the cracks return on their own when the air becomes wetter again, he says.
The Norwegians Langelandsvik recommend placing flowers and plants in the living room, and opening the door when taking a shower.
– Balanced ventilation, underfloor heating and dry heating. We cannot add enough humidity to the house to maintain the correct humidity. This is the main challenge in Norway. So, I think we should generally start taking hydration measures. Placing flowers and plants in the living room also releases moisture. Or prepare the bathroom door after showering. He says it’s all about getting moisture into the house so the wood doesn’t dry out.
You can even influence the humidity
NAAF Head of Indoor Climate Kay Gustafsen, who has directed indoor climate counseling at the Asthma and Allergy Association (NAAF) for several years, says he’s never tested anyone as low in humidity as prescribed.
– I’ve never experienced anyone experiencing humidity as low as 5-7 percent in the years I’ve run the NAAF indoor climate consultancy.
Westman answers this:
– It amazes me that the NAAF had never heard of such low RF numbers. We know of flooring suppliers that have been vetted for any complaints about parquet flooring, with RF measured at 7 percent and less. Admittedly, this is relatively extreme, but many parquet manufacturers report that it is very common for them to measure up to 11 percent of the RF when they come to look at cracks in the parquet. This was also confirmed by IFI employees who tested hygrometers at home.
Gustavsen says there are more people experiencing dry air in new homes with balanced ventilation. When we talk about indoor climate, we mean moisture in the air and not moisture in flooring materials.
– After a conversation with the owner of the house, it often turns out that the system has a very high air temperature, there are a lot of ventilation and air valves that contribute to the feeling of draft and so on. Ventilation air should be supplied to rooms at a lower temperature during the heating season so that the filtered outside air mixes with the room air, he says.
Underfloor heating should be used as floor heating and should be supplemented with other sources of heating that can be controlled in the home. Solutions that contribute to increasing the comfort of living.
It is important to emphasize that wood works according to the seasons. One has to do something with the heat, ventilation and dust in the house first and foremost. He says the items in the house are still alive, whether you like it or not.
– If someone has such low humidity, you should check if the meter is properly calibrated and look at the type of temperature inside and out, he says and adds:
The most important thing you can do for an indoor climate is the small steps you can take to influence, among other things, humidity.
Make the invisible visible
Gustavsen says it might be a good idea to buy an indoor climate sensor that measures relative humidity, temperature, radon, VOC (volatile organic compounds) and carbon dioxide.
– You can read it directly from your mobile phone. You can, for example, lower the temperature if the house has low humidity. He says the actions you took will quickly appear in the app on your mobile phone, and adds:
The sensor will help make the invisible visible. The goal is to make the indoor climate more interesting with an application that allows you to monitor and influence the indoor climate for yourself.
Gustavsen also says that ventilation and lowering the temperature can lead to a better indoor climate and lower electricity costs again.
Humidity can be 60% in summer
Bjarte Sæthre works as a consultant for moisture damage, fungal damage and indoor climate dampness and travels daily in homes to inspect homes. Among other things, they perform indoor climatic examinations in cooperation with the NAAF.
– A large percentage of the problems I encounter during inspections are often related to ventilation and humidity. With a little basic understanding, it’s easy to do something about it.
Sæthre says it has never experienced 5-7% humidity, but the moisture in the wood can be very low when it’s air-dry.
– I experienced humidity up to 12-15 percent, but it’s in special cases. Then it was very cold outside for a long time with minus 20. Plus they were in flats with balanced ventilation. In these cases, he says, you can experience such low humidity.
If the apartment humidity drops to 20 percent, then there is usually balanced ventilation.
Homes that have a balanced ventilation system change the air efficiently so that moisture added during showering, cooking, and drying clothes is instantly vented.
– In older homes with valves in the walls and natural ventilation, the air exchange is slower and thus often not completely dry.
Humidity indoors depends on the outside climate. The colder it is outside, the drier the inside.
In late summer and autumn, the humidity is higher. We can note this by the fact that there is a lot of dew on the grass in the morning.
– Then the humidity is so high and hot outside, that the humidity inside can often be 60 percent. This is an example of how the outside climate affects the indoor climate, he says.
He says that 60 percent of the humidity in the summer is good.
– But in winter, such high humidity indoors will cause condensation problems, it is not good. Then you should try to maintain a maximum of 35-40 percent humidity, says Sæthre.
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