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  • Writer's picturePerceptive Things Team

10 Ways Humidity Affects Buildings (and the People in Them!)

humidity affects buildings

If you own a commercial or multi-family building, high humidity is one of your worst enemies. It can significantly impact buildings and their occupants, from mold growth, material degradation, and building durability to indoor air quality and health & safety.

This post discusses the ten ways humidity affects buildings and the people in them. You will also learn how to protect your building from humidity!

Keep reading to learn more about how to protect your building and tenants.

The Top 10 Ways Humidity Affects Buildings

Here are the ten ways high humidity impacts buildings and their occupants:

  1. Mold Growth

  2. Material Degradation

  3. Indoor Air Quality

  4. Energy Efficiency

  5. Condensation and Water Damage

  6. Paint and Finish Issues

  7. Electronic Equipment

  8. Comfort and Productivity

  9. Building Durability

  10. Health and Safety

1. Mold Growth

mold growth on a window due to humidity

High humidity levels can lead to increased moisture content in building materials, such as walls, ceilings, and floors. According to GPIN states that excess moisture creates an ideal environment for mold and mildew growth.

Mold damages the structural integrity of buildings and poses health risks to occupants, causing respiratory issues and allergies.

We've heard stories of mold growth causing people to develop coughs, loose their voice, or even end up in the hospital!

The issue of mold growth is covered at length in our articles on how to prevent mold in your building and how to get rid of mold in your apartment building.

2. Material Degradation

According to Researchgate, excessive humidity can accelerate the degradation of building materials over time.

Wood, drywall, and other porous materials can absorb moisture, leading to warping, rotting, and weakening of the structure.

This can compromise the building's stability and necessitate costly repairs.

3. Indoor Air Quality

importance of good indoor air quality

Humidity affects indoor air quality. In fact, research by TotalComfort shows that the quality of indoor air gets compromised when the level of humidity rises above 50%.

The first sign of high humidity levels is when the air starts to feel stuffy and uncomfortable. Excessive humidity can often be detected when humans start to excessively sweat (such as from the face or underarms).

Humidity indoors can cause more than general discomfort. According to the American Lung Association, high humidity can also lead to the proliferation of dust mites and other allergens.

On the other hand, research by NLM shows that low humidity levels can cause dry skin, respiratory discomfort, and increased susceptibility to illnesses!

4. Energy Efficiency

Many building owners are surprised to learn that humidity can cause their energy bills to climb!

Maintaining the correct humidity levels is crucial for energy efficiency. High humidity can make a building feel warmer than it actually is, causing occupants to use more air conditioning.

Conversely, low humidity can make a space feel colder, leading to increased heating usage.

Balancing humidity levels helps optimize HVAC system performance and reduce energy consumption.

5. Condensation and Water Damage

humidity and condensation on a window

Rapid temperature changes can cause condensation to form on surfaces.

This moisture buildup can lead to water damage, staining, and even structural issues. For instance, condensation on windows can result in rotting window sills and frames.

The average cost of repairing water damage in a multi-family building is over $3,300! Additionally, water damage is associated with multiple hidden costs.

6. Paint and Finish Issues

peeling paint

High humidity can negatively affect the application and longevity of paints and finishes. This impact goes far beyond mold growth too!

According to Raider Painting, excess moisture can lead to bubbling, peeling, and poor adhesion of coatings. This not only affects aesthetics but also exposes underlying materials to potential damage.

7. Electronic Equipment Corrosion

Perhaps one of the most expensive impacts of humidity would be the damage it can cause to equipment.

In fact, Photonics Media states that moisture can corrode sensitive components, leading to malfunctions and reduced lifespan of electronic devices.

When you think about building IT rooms as well as the typical equipment most homes and offices contain, the price of replacement can be staggering!

Computers, TVs, Wifi modems and routers, printers... the list is nearly endless and most of these items cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000 each!

8. Comfort and Productivity

It is no surprise that humidity levels can influence indoor comfort and occupant productivity.

While it is more challenging to calculate the lost productivity, you can still see how this expense quickly adds up.

Consider the time your employees or tenants might spend:

  • discussing their discomfort and when it started

  • contacting property managers to request adjustments

  • requesting professional opinions on how to fix the issues themselves

  • ordering additional tools to attempt their own resolution

It is clear to see how maintaining optimal humidity levels promotes a comfortable and productive indoor environment!

9. Building durability

ResearchGate has an excellent research piece on how building durability is impacted by material degradation due to humidity exposure.

This can reduce the overall lifespan of a building and necessitate more frequent maintenance and repairs.

If your whole building seems like it is constantly having issues at a structural level, humidity could be to blame!

We often see these kinds of issues for buildings located in southern climates. Southern Energy Management has an excellent video and article on How to Manage Moisture in the Humid Southeast!

10. Health and Safety

We know what you are thinking! "Didn't you already talk about mold earlier?" Yes!

But mold is not the only way that your health can be impacted due to humidity.

For example, according to MDPI, excessive humidity levels can contribute to the growth of harmful bacteria, such as Legionella, which causes Legionnaire's disease.

Mayo Clinic describes legionnaire's disease as an extreme form of pneumonia and most people catch it by breaking in bacteria from.... you guessed it! Water.

Protecting Your Building from Humidity

Proper ventilation, insulation, and humidity control systems are essential to mitigate the negative impacts of humidity on buildings.

Therefore, monitoring and maintaining appropriate humidity levels using humidity sensors can help preserve the integrity of the building structure, enhance indoor comfort, and ensure the health and safety of occupants.

We have reviewed our two most popular smart humidity sensors below, but you may also want to check out our article on the best commercial building smart sensors to learn more!

You can also check Our Perceptive Things Explained Video for more detailed information!

Mercury™ Humidity Sensor

This ambient humidity smart building sensor can be installed in any room. It will instantly notify you via call, text, or email whenever your building's humidity rises above or below a configured threshold level.

Therefore, use Mercury™ by Perceptive Things® to track and monitor humidity levels over time, which helps you ensure a safe and consistent environment in your building.

Rest easy knowing that your humidity sensor is running 24/7, providing real-time monitoring and protecting your building from humidity 24/7.

Mercury Surface™ Equipment Temperature Sensor

While Mercury Surface™ does not detect humidity, it is still excellent for protecting equipment that may be in a room that is overheating!

Just like our other sensors, you can configure Mercury Surface™ to your own threshold temperature settings.

It will then give you real-time alerts via email, text and phone call when humidity falls below or rises above this threshold setting.

The surface-mounted design of the Mercury Surface™ sensor makes it seamless to mount in any location in your building!

Final thoughts on protecting buildings from the effects of humidity

Humidity in buildings is a common but unfortunate event. It is associated with many effects, as discussed in this article.

Installing smart humidity sensors at the right places inside your building can help protect your building and its tenants from the effects of humidity.

You may want to learn more about the importance of installing humidity sensors in buildings. If you have unanswered questions, contact our experts at; we will gladly assist you!

Has your building dealt with humidity before? What were the effects? We would love to hear about it in the comments section!

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