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Preventing Indoor Condensation (Accidental Dehumidification) Key to Good IAQ

Accidental dehumidification AKA indoor condensation can wreak havoc on your home's surfaces and your health. Here's how to avoid an expensive water damage bill with one simple IAQ solution.

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accidental dehumidification excess moisture indoors

Condensation, also known as accidental dehumidification, is an issue homeowners can face year-round. Particularly present during the summer and winter months, extreme temperatures increase the likelihood of indoor condensation. Accidental dehumidification leads to water damage which worsens indoor air quality, creating health issues for occupants and damages home surfaces. Fortunately, excess indoor condensation is preventable. 

What Is Accidental Dehumidification? 

In order to understand accidental dehumidification, one must be familiar with the term dew point. The dew point is the temperature at which water in air transforms from its gaseous state (water vapor) into its liquid state. This process is called condensation. In order for a surface to collect condensation, its temperature must be equal to or less than the dew point. 

Accidental dehumidification is a natural process and when it occurs from time to time, it’s hardly problematic. However, surfaces that frequently experience condensation or are near condensing surfaces (think a windowsill near a condensing window) may rot, rust, bulge, decay or mildew.

Condensing windows and glass doors are noticeable. But beware of accidental humidification happening within unseen wall cavities, crawlspaces and basement areas that are more difficult to recognize because it’s not in your immediate space! Indoor condensation and excess moisture are just as capable of producing rot and mold out of view.

Water Damage Worsens Indoor Air Quality 

If you’ve ever experienced a flood or pipe break, you’re familiar with water damage. Excess indoor condensation is a type of water damage. Moisture damage occurs when water is given the opportunity to sit for an extended period of time. The water begins to erode the surface—whether walls, furniture, flooring, carpeting or other various materials. Mold growth, rusting, swelling, cracking, peeling, rotting and delamination are all common consequences of water damage. 

Water damage also creates and attracts air pollutants which reduce indoor air quality and causes numerous health issues for occupants. For example, exposure to mold exacerbates allergies and asthma and causes itchiness, coughing and wheezing. When unaware of potential water damage from indoor condensation, it’s easy to unintentionally circulate air pollutants. Most accidentally do so each time they turn on the heater or air conditioner. This makes it especially difficult to rid mold and mold-induced illnesses.

How To Prevent Accidental Dehumidification 

In order to prevent accidental dehumidification, invest in a whole-home dehumidifier. We know this sounds counterintuitive. Why purchase a device to dehumidify the air when we are trying to avoid dehumidification? Allow us to explain. The air in your home must be dry enough to combat condensation. In this case, drier indoor air is better. A whole-home dehumidifier collects water vapor from the air in your home. The device is equipped with a humidistat, which can be set to maintain a specific humidity level. This also ensures you won’t dry out your space too much, but rather keep indoor humidity levels within the ideal range. The goal is to reduce humidity and remove water vapor enough to prevent condensation on surfaces and walls, not to remove moisture from the air entirely!

Don’t Be Fooled by Water Droplets

When you look down at your windowsill and find a handful of water droplets, you may think nothing of it. Generally, you’re right to ignore this occurrence. However, when a surface repeatedly experiences condensation, or the weather is particularly cold or hot for a length of time, it’s important to pay attention. Water damage wreaks havoc on indoor air quality, creating an unhealthy atmosphere for occupants. Accidental dehumidification is completely preventable. Investing in a whole-home dehumidifier to minimize excessive indoor condensation will protect your family and your home.

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