Your Health and Dust Mites

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dustmites

Spring is the time of year we start experiencing the sniffling and sneezing caused by seasonal allergies. While many people suffer from seasonal allergies – some experience these symptoms year-round. Dust mite allergies are a common trigger for asthma, non-seasonal allergies, and atopic dermatitis and can effect those who are allergic year-round. Here are some tips of mite reduction, dust mite facts and  information.

  • 10% of the human population is allergic to the waste of these little creepy crawlies and 80% of allergy suffers are sensitive to them as well.
  • Dust mites thrive in temperatures 68-70℉ and a RH of 70-80%
  • The America College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that as many as 90% of people with allergic asthma are sensitive to dust mites, and at least 45% of young people with asthma are allergic to dust mites

Dust Mite Control Tips

  • dehumidifier can help bring humidity down below 50% RH where dust mites cannot survive. This is one of the easiest ways to control dust mite populations in your home.
  • Use micro-filtration bags in your vacuum this can help keep mites and mite wast from being recirculated back into the air.
  • Use dust proof zip-able covers on mattresses and pillows.

Facts

  • Dust mites are too small to be seen with the naked eye but when seen on a microscope they are light in color and have eight legs
  • Mites feed on dead skin
  • The average lifespan of a dust mite is 80 days
  • There are 13 different types of dust mites, the most common species in the United States are the Dermatophagoides Farinae and the D. Pteronyssinus.
  • Common dust mite hiding spots include mattresses, bed linen, upholstered furniture, long-fiber carpets, and soft toys

Spring Forward: 11 ways to keep your home and dehumidifier in check

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During daylight savings, in many parts of the country, we set our clocks one hour ahead for the purpose of making better use of sunlight and to conserve energy. It is also an indication that springtime is near – a season of new beginnings and life. The annual spring cleaning time has arrived and here is a list of  to-dos to keep your home and dehumidifier in check:

  • Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors- doing this each time change will keep you on a schedule and insure your alarms are working.
  • Replace filters in your home- check your air conditioning units, heating units, water filters, etc. Have them fresh and in working order for the new season. It is important to not forget about the filter in your dehumidifier in order to maintain efficiency.
  • Reverse your ceiling fans – fans should be rotating counter clockwise to cool the rooms in your home as we warm up from spring to summer. To do this look for a small switch on the base of your ceiling fan flip the switch and watch for the correct air pull direction.
  • Check and clean out the gutters of your home.
  • Make sure the grade around the foundation is carrying water away from your home. 
  • Seal holes and cracks to keep vermin out of your home –  also do not forget to seal off entry points for wires and and pipes into your home or building. You can buy a inexpensive can of spray foam from your local hardware store to seal with.
  • Make sure your dehumidifier is level – this ensures that the water being removed from the air in your crawl space or basement is running out the drain line.
  • Clean out the drain line of your dehumidifier – this can be done by removing the line and running a hot water and bleach solution through it.  You can also just replace the tubing.
  • Make sure the dehumidifier line has a proper drain trap that is draining downward – see video below to see drain trap options. 
  • If the dehumidifier is running to a sump pump, make sure the pump is properly functioning.
  • Lastly, if draining directly outside of the crawl space make sure that the line is not obstructed or kinked.

 

Save Your Hardwood Flooring!

Most homeowners know that purchasing and installing hardwood flooring can cost a pretty penny. And if you’re lucky, you may find some nice hardwood under the carpets of your home to refinish.

I was recently asked by a friend to look at their damaged hardwood flooring. Unfortunately, due to having a vented crawl space their floors they were cupping quite badly.  Cupping occurs when the sides of hardwood flooring are higher than the center of the board giving it a concave shape.

There are many reasons why floors cup. It may be from moisture damage due to the air inside the home being too humid. But in this cause it was due to the vented crawlspace under the floors.  It was allowing very wet air to move from the crawlspace up through the floors into the home. This is called “Stack Effect”.

To prevent this from happening it is recommended to keep your crawlspace below 60% relative humidity by encapsulating it. The first step is to seal all penetrations from the crawlspace to the home and from the outside into the crawlspace in order to prevent humid air from infiltrating into these areas. Then a high-quality vapor barrier is laid on the floor and sealed to the walls of the crawl space.  Once that has been done a dual-exhaust Santa Fe dehumidifier is installed to ensure humidity is controlled at all times.

 

How Does a Dehumidifier Control Moisture?

Santa Fe dehumidifiers are designed to control humidity in basements, crawl spaces and other inside spaces.  By controlling the moisture in these spaces there is a reduced risk of health problems, comfort issues and property damage.  But how does it work? Let’s take a closer look at the internal workings of the Santa Fe Advance2 dehumidifier.

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Humid air is pulled  into the dehumidifier and passes through a MERV-8 filter. The Santa Fe Advance2 uses a high-efficiency filter that captures small particles in the air. The humid air then passes over a cold evaporator coil where moisture in the air condenses. The condensed water drops into the drain pan and runs out of the dehumidifier through the drain tube.  The cold, dry air then moves over the condenser coil where it is slightly heated. Dry air is supplied to the basement or crawl space through the dual outlets.

Blog Post 4: Top 10 Signs of High Humidity

For health and comfort reasons, it’s important to maintain a proper humidity level in your home.  While too little humidity can cause discomfort issues, too much moisture can lead to health problems, discomfort issues, and property damage. Dehumidifiers can help remedy these excess moisture problems.  Let’s take a look at some signs that indicate that you may need a dehumidifier.

First, let’s talk about a few signs that you can’t see but can likely feel. These often contribute to health problems and discomfort issues.  Reducing humidity to control these issues will help create a Comfortable Space.

  • High Humidity
  • Poor Air Quality
  • Sticky Feeling
  • Bacteria Growth

Next, is what you can see. These are common visual indicators that you have a humidity problem which is slowing damaging and destroying your Home and Property.

  • Mold/ Mildew Growth
  • Pest infestations
  • Cupping of Wood Floors
  • Stains on Walls and Ceilings
  • Wood Rot
  • Blistering Pain
Signs of Moisture Problems

Some common tell tale signs that you have a moisture problem.

If you’re not doing so already, take a few moments to look around your home for signs of high humidity. You may be surprised at what your house is trying to tell you.

Next week, in our fifth and final post in this series, we will be discussing how a dehumidifier works to control moisture. We’ll see you then.

Blog Post 3: How Does Moisture Enter the Home?

There are 3 main sources of moisture in your home; the first being air leaks.  Air can leak into the home through walls, roofs and floors and have damaging effects on a house.  Uncontrolled airflow through the shell not only carries moisture into framing cavities, causing mold and rot, but it can also account for a huge portion of a home’s energy use and can cause indoor-air-quality problems.  In a leaky house, large volumes of air – driven by exhaust fans, the stack effect, and wind – can blow through the floor, walls, and ceiling.

The second source of moisture is diffusion through materials.  This is a process by which vapor spreads or moves through permeable materials caused by a difference in water vapor pressure.  An example of this is when the soil becomes saturated and that moisture enters the crawl space through the walls by vapor diffusion.  Installing a vapor barrier or vapor diffusion retarder can help reduce the rate at which the water vapor can move through a material.

The final source is internally generated moisture.  A family of four can add, on average, up to 25 pints of water to the air simply by washing dishes, taking showers, cooking, and breathing. Adding 4 pints of water to the air in a house at 70°F and 30% RH can boost the RH to 50%. Eight pints can boost RH to 70%.

There’s a great article on the Building Science Corporation website which has additional information on this subject. Here’s a quick link Air Leaks How They Waste Energy and Rot Homes.

Next week we will be sharing the top 10 signs of high moisture. See you then.

Blog Post 2: Help! What’s the Difference Between Relative Humidity and Dew Point?

Many people confuse relative humidity with dew point.  They often hear about dew point on the weather channel, but aren’t really sure what it means. Let’s take a closer look at these two concepts.

To put it simply, relative humidity is the amount of moisture in the air compared to what the air can “hold” at that temperature.  So if I was to say that the relative humidity, which is always measured in a percentage, was 100% that means that the air is holding its maximum water vapor capacity at that temperature.

It’s important to understand that relative humidity is relative to the temperature.  In order to understand this concept, let’s take a look at the diagram below.  The glasses represent the temperature, so the smaller the glass the colder the temperature and vice versa.  When looking at the first glass you notice that colder air has a smaller capacity for holding moisture and has a high relative humidity.  As the temperature increases (glass gets bigger), the air is able to hold more moisture and the relative humidity decreases.   In fact, for every degree that the temperature increases, the relative humidity decreases about 2%.

RH Chart

We don’t always use relative humidity to describe the amount of moisture in the air.  Sometimes we refer to dew point.  The dew point is the temperature at which the relative humidity equals 100%.  Unlike RH, the dew point does not change with air temperature.  In that sense it is an “absolute” measurement of the amount of water vapor in the air.

Dew Point is also a great measure for comfort.  If the dew point is below 60 degrees it is comfortable, but if the dew point gets above 70 degrees then it gets very sticky and uncomfortable.  If you know temperature and relative humidity, you can calculate the dew point using a psychometric calculator or an online calculator, like this one www.dpcalc.org

Come back next week for part three in our series discussing the sources of moisture in your home!

Blog Post 1: The Basics of Moisture Control! (5 Part Series)

Moisture ControlThis series will cover a variety of topics that have to do with the importance of understanding and controlling humidity and moisture in your home. We will discuss the difference between relative humidity and dew point, and why these are important concepts to understand. We will then dive into how moisture enters and is created within your home. Next we will talk about the top 10 signs of high moisture, and finally we will discuss how a dehumidifier can help control humidity and reduce the risk of health problems, comfort issues and property damage.

Check out the first part of our series next week, when we discuss the difference between relative humidity and dew point!

How a Santa Fe Dehumidifier Works

Santa Fe’s free-standing dehumidifiers are powerful enough to control humidity in basements, crawl spaces and other inside spaces. By controlling the moisture in these areas there is a reduced risk of health problems, comfort issues and property damage.

Dehumidifiers regulate humidity by removing moisture from the air; creating living conditions that are comfortable and inhospitable to dust mites, mold and other allergens. This is how dehumidification works. First, the humid air is returned into the dehumidifier through the air filter. After the air passes through this high-efficiency air filter, it then passes over the evaporator coil. The cold surface combined with the humid air forces water to come out through condensation. This water drops into the drain pan and runs out of the dehumidifier through the drain tube. The now cold dry air goes over the condenser coils and is heated, and the warm dry air is now supplied to the basement or crawl space.

There are also products in the Santa Fe line that contain patented air to air heat exchanging technology and dual exhaust, which allows for higher capacity and efficiency, as well as flexible installation options. For more detailed information on the Santa Fe product line, check out our product comparison chart.

What Causes Condensation in Crawlspaces and Basements?

In many parts of the country during the spring, summer and fall months, warm, moist air enters the vented crawlspace from the outside and condenses on the cooler surfaces of the walls, floor and ductwork. These cooler surfaces are created within the crawlspace or basement by it being partially or entirely underground and shaded – much like a cave!

DP_condensation_arrows• If the Dew Point (DP) temperature is ABOVE the surface temperature,
condensation will occur.
• If the Dew Point (DP) temperature is BELOW the surface temperature,
there will be no condensation.

SF_condensation_infographCondensation Contributes To:

  • High Humidity
  • Pest Infestations
  • Poor Indoor Air Quality
  • Mold Growth
  • Musty Odors
  • Damage to Property

How do I prevent condensation?

Santa_Fe_Advance2-1Santa Fe offers a full line of dehumidifiers to help prevent condensation in these spaces. Several of the units feature dual exhaust to provide optimal airflow. This airflow helps prevent spot condensate, and in combination with the dehumidification, protects crawlspaces and basements.