Why is Humidity & Attic Rain Important to Manage?

Calgary is one of the most unique cities in Canada when it comes to our weather. Throughout the year, we can see temperatures span from -40 degrees Celsius to +40 degrees in a matter of months, and Chinooks can warm our frost-bitten city to a springtime paradise in only a few short days.

Because of this, our homes have to be prepared to withstand even the most extreme weather Alberta has to offer. And while these temperatures can cause damage to your home’s exterior, they can also affect your home’s interior, as there is a direct correlation between the temperature outside and the indoor humidity. The damage your home sustains could lead to unforeseen issues and cost thousands of dollars to repair.

But how do you manage humidity? And how can you tell you have a humidity problem? At Millenium Plus Homes, we help ensure you not only live in the house of your dreams but that you also have the information you need to keep your home safe and sound throughout the changing seasons.

What is Humidity & How Much Should My Home Have?

Humidity is simply the amount of water vapour present in the air. It can fluctuate depending on the season, the climate, and the activities you do inside your home (like showering, washing clothes, or doing the dishes). Warm air holds more moisture than cold air, and thanks to our regularly occurring Chinooks, Calgary is known for having temperatures that can fluctuate rapidly.

As a homeowner, you need to manage your humidity. This chart is a good indicator of where your humidity levels should be.

Chart listing the appropriate humidity levels for different outdoor temperatures

The only way to determine your home’s humidity is by using a hygrometer. Hygrometers are inexpensive and widely available through home hardware stores and online retailers. It’s best to have a few of these in different areas around your home.

Keeping your home at these levels will help manage things like condensation on your windows, the presence of mould, and other issues that could affect your home comfort.

How Can High Humidity Affect My Home & Home Comfort?

You will see your home’s humidity levels rise as you live there. It’s essential to make sure your home has proper ventilation to help excess moisture escape. Air always moves in the direction of least resistance, so having clear vents and open windows can help manage your humidity.

It’s not uncommon to see higher humidity levels in newer homes, especially those built within the last year. During the home’s first few years, different components expel thousands of litres of moisture over time, sometimes making it difficult for you to manage your humidity levels.

In any case, high humidity levels can lead to a variety of problems for your home and family, including:

  • Attic rain.
  • Condensation on your windows.
  • Mould and mildew on shower curtains, windowsills, and floor tiles.
  • Health problems like asthma, allergies, or other breathing difficulties.
  • Peeling wallpaper or damaged paint jobs in humid areas.
  • Damage to floors and walls.
  • Possible structural problems with your foundation or brick walls.

What is Attic Rain?

Although many people might mistake attic rain as a roofing problem, it is actually a ventilation and humidity problem.

Ideally, your attic should be about as cold as the air outside. If you have inadequate ventilation in your attic, it can become quite warm in the winter. The warm air causes frost, which then turns into condensation.

Roof vents and vented soffits normally allow warm air from your attic to escape. But when this ventilation is blocked with snow, the warm air becomes trapped and eventually causes frost. This frost can accumulate without your knowledge during the winter, but come spring or summer, the problem will most likely become apparent.

The melting frost is what we call “attic rain.” Attic rain can severely damage your upper-level ceiling, leading to extensive and expensive repairs. You might have an attic rain problem if you notice:

  • Stains on your ceiling
  • Leaks around lights
  • Mould
  • Cracked & mouldy window casings
  • Your ceiling sags

The best way to ensure you don’t experience these issues is to make sure warm air doesn’t leak into your attic. A professional can look for possible leaks into your attic. Additionally, you could also install a dehumidifier in your home for as little as $200.

It’s important to note that turning a humidifier down does not remove humidity. It just prevents the unit from creating more humidity for the time being. Your home also will not come equipped with a dehumidifier. That’s why I recommend buying a dehumidifier for your home, even in a climate as dry as ours. It could save you thousands of dollars in repairs down the road.

How Can I Reduce My Home’s Humidity?

At Millenium Plus Homes, your comfort is our priority. We prepare our homes for the most extreme weather conditions Calgary can throw at them, including state-of-the-art sealing systems, reliable ventilation, and cutting-edge roofs that help maximize airflow. 

However, there are several things you can do to manage your home’s humidity, especially during extremely cold weather. Some tricks you can try include:

  • Taking shorter or cooler showers
  • Run your bath fan longer after showering (1-2 hours)
  • Install a timer on your bath fan
  • Avoid using your dryer at night
  • Keep fewer plants
  • Reduce open water sources (fish tanks, for example)
  • Cover pots when boiling water
Diagram of a house showing various ways to control humidity
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