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Why is My Home Air So Dry During the Winter?

Why is My Home Air So Dry During the Winter?

When winter weather comes to the Pittsburgh area and the temperature begins to drop, so does the humidity. As you probably notice each winter, dry air in your house leads to dry skin, chapped lips, and irritated sinuses. A normal level of humidity in a home should be around 45 percent. However, during the winter months the humidity in the outdoor air can drop to around 15 percent or even lower. At 15 percent humidity you’ll start to notice the symptoms associated with too dry air. If you are already experiencing symptoms or want to prevent your home from becoming too dry this season, keep reading to find out how to combat the dry winter air. 

What Causes Dry Air in Your House?

Winter weather combined with poor home insulation will cause dry air in your house

home with icicles hanging off roof
Insulation gaps allow dry air to enter and circulate in your home.

Dry air occurs naturally when the weather gets colder. As the temperature drops, the air becomes unable to hold water. In addition to the naturally dry air, you are also using your heating system in the winter which can further dry out the air in your home.

Your level of home insulation will determine how much your heating system will dry out your home. During the winter months, your heating system can leak warm air outside through any gaps in your insulation. When warm air from the inside leaks outside, that also means that cold, dry air from the outside is making its way into your home. Unless you are taking steps to add moisture to the air, your home air will continue to dry out. So, before the cold really sets in, it's a good idea to have a technician inspect your insulation.

Is the Air in My Home Too Dry?

If you are noticing symptoms of too dry air in your house, then it's likely you need to increase the humidity in you home to a healthier level

woman checking neck for dry skin
Don’t put up with the symptoms of dry skin this year!

Without a hygrometer, which is a device that measures humidity, you might not be able to tell that the air in your home is too dry. Most people begin experiencing symptoms, especially respiratory symptoms, of too dry air long before they realize that dry air is the issue. If you are experiencing any of the following signs of dry air in your house, you should take action to raise your humidity levels:

  • Static - Dry air often leads to static electricity buildup in your home. If you find yourself getting zapped more often by objects in your home, it is most likely due to dry air. 
  • Dry skin - This is usually the most noticeable symptom of dry air in your home. If your skin is too dry it can lead to seasonal rashes or exacerbate already existing skin conditions.
  • Sinus irritation and nosebleeds - As you continuously breathe in dry air, it will begin to affect your sinuses. Too dry air often leads to congestion and nosebleeds. So, if you or a family member is struggling with either of these symptoms, your air is probably too dry. 
  • Coughing - As the dry air causes irritation in your sinuses, it can also contribute to a persistent cough. 

Now that we’ve explored the different symptoms of too dry air and what causes dry air in the house, let’s move on to learn about some of the solutions to dry air.

How Can I Solve The Problem of Dry Air in My House?

The only way to fix a dry air problem is by adding and retaining as much moisture to your indoor space as possible

man adjusting humidifier in living room yellow couch
There are a few DIY tricks to add some humidity to your air before purchasing a humidifier.

The fix for dry air in the house might seem obvious — go out and purchase a humidifier for your home. However, there are a few other ways that you can stop your air from getting too dry this winter. For DIY solutions to your dry air problem, take a look at some of the simple fixes we’ve come up with:

  • Buy a few houseplants and water them every day
  • Leave the bathroom door open when you shower
  • Dry out damp clothes inside your home
  • Wet a sponge or towel and allow it to dry out in your home

If you’ve tried these ways to add a bit more moisture to your home air, but are still experiencing the symptoms of dryness you should get a technician to inspect your insulation. After exhausting all of your DIY options and checking for gaps in your insulation, then you should start thinking about getting a humidifier.

Humidifiers come in two different varieties, portable and whole home humidifiers. A portable humidifier is a good idea to add moisture to a single room or floor of your home. On the other hand, a whole home humidifier connects directly to your HVAC system and will add moisture to the air in every room in your home. In the end, the type of humidifier you choose will depend on how the dry air affects your living spaces. 

At Restano Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we can address any HVAC related issues in your home as we move into the colder seasons. We only complete repair work using experienced, licensed technicians who use professional equipment that meets our standards. So, give us a call today and let us make sure your heating and cooling system is running properly.