Though summer is a fun, warm, typically happy season, there’s one thing that can be unbearable: the summer heat. And, depending where you live in the United States, the humidity is even worse. High humidity, like heat, tends to badly affect certain things, some of them can be found in your home. Wood flooring, for example, can be damaged with too low or too high humidity.
Regardless of where a wood floor is installed, humidity control is necessary. RH levels change throughout the course of a season, month and even in a single day. Protecting a wood floor means controlling humidity so it remains within the manufacturer’s recommended range all year long.
While the specifications sound intimidating at first, homeowners and installers should keep in mind that there is nowhere in the country that humidity in the home cannot be improved. However, the exact solution for maintaining proper RH varies depending on the region.
In most cases, wood floor damage is a matter of too much moisture at one point in the year and too little at another time. The most severe damage to wood flooring occurs from moisture changes: The wood expanding when it absorbs water and then contracting when dry air pulls it out. When severe enough, it’s a chronic and abusive process for a wood floor.
However, not all homeowners face the same challenges when it comes to controlling humidity, so solutions for whole-home humidity control vary. The size and age of a house, its foundation (basement, crawlspace or slab) and even the daily routines of family members can influence how much moisture is in the air. During times of the year when too much humidity is the problem, a whole-home dehumidifier is the best solution. High-capacity dehumidifiers are able to control moisture levels in every room, protecting a wood floor regardless of what level of the house it is on.
In climates where the furnace runs during the dry months, an evaporative humidifier is usually enough to keep humidity within acceptable ranges. This appliance distributes water onto a panel, and the moisture is then carried through the house as the furnace distributes heat.
For homeowners in the arid western climates, a dehumidifier is rarely, if ever, needed, but humidification is, and there are now humidification options that can battle some of the driest air. While evaporative humidifiers are popular across much of the country, they need air flow from a furnace to distribute moisture. Since homeowners in the desert often don’t run a furnace, it’s difficult to supply buildings with the immense amount of moisture needed to stay near manufacturers’ recommended ranges. In these areas, steam humidification is a solution. With steam, moisture can be introduced to the air year-round, even when there is a need to cool the home.
So how you can prevent potential damage? Check the humidity levels in the rooms where you have your hardwood floors installed using a humidistat or a hydrometer – they’re both available in hardware stores or home centers. If the humidity levels are beyond the 35% – 55% range, then make adjustments. If the levels are too high, use a dehumidifier or turn up the air conditioning. Either will lower the humidity levels. If you need to raise the humidity level, try a humidifier to boost the overall moisture in the room.
By maintaining the humidity levels in your home, you will help to ensure your floor remains covered by our warranties and keep it in shape to perform its best.