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Published October 16, 2015

Humidity and Wood Floors

Don’t let your house dry out this cold season. In addition to the impacts of low, winter-time humidity levels on human health, dry air poses some risks for your house as well. Some of the materials used to build homes are hygroscopic —meaning they absorb or lose water molecules based on the moisture content of the air around them. In a home, the level of moisture in the air is referred to as relative humidity (RH). One of the most vulnerable materials in a home is the wood—including molding, millwork, stair railings and of course, wood floors.

While all moisture is damaging to a hardwood floor, swings in relativity humidity can damage the entire floor at once. In the summer, when humidity is high, the moisture content of wood increases and boards may swell. In the winter, running the furnace reduces indoor RH significantly. This means that while the wood was high in moisture in the summer, it’s now being drawn out. If this change is too drastic, then wood work and wood floors can be severely damaged.

If you notice cracks, gaps or a wavy pattern to your flooring, low humidity levels may be an issue in your house. Not heating a home is clearly not an option when winter weather rolls in. The good news is humidity can become controlled cold weather with a whole-home humidifier. Built into the HVAC system, a whole-home humidifier provides humidity control in every room of a house, protecting flooring, trim, walls and artwork throughout your home.

Unlike room humidifiers, whole-home solutions do not need to be constantly cleaned. Room humidifiers also require that water be added daily, while whole-home units are plumbed into the home’s water line. They are out of sight and out of mind. A simple water panel change once a year is all that’s required to keep the unit in good working order.

If you don’t have an whole-home humidifier, contact Thermal Services for more information!

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