When you see moisture accumulating, dry it promptly and deal with the source of the problem. Two basic elements of controlling moisture buildup are minimizing cool surfaces and reducing humidity.
Storm doors and windows minimize cool surfaces in the winter by separating the interior from cold, outside air. Double- and triple-pane windows also insulate interior glass from the cold. In addition to reducing moisture, adding these improvements will make your home more energy-efficient year-round. Pay attention to window treatments as well. Opening drapes and blinds in the winter allows warmth to reach the interior glass. Some condensation may occur, but the improved circulation makes it less likely to accumulate. Insulating cold-water pipes eliminates a common cool surface in warm weather. Straight and angled sleeves let you fit insulation to your pipes — just slide on the sleeves and seal the slits and joints with duct tape.
Your heating and cooling systems can also help control moisture in the home. Gas and electric furnaces reduce humidity with dry heat. Air conditioning lowers the moisture level in the air as it cools. Keep registers open and unblocked to allow good air flow, and have the systems inspected and serviced regularly to make sure they are functioning properly.
Caulking and weatherstripping improve energy efficiency and prevent humid air from entering a home, but they also reduce the air exchange that allows moisture to move out of the house. Bathroom exhaust fans, dryer exhaust and ducted kitchen exhaust hoods that vent to the outside remove moisture that activities such as showering, bathing, clothes drying, dish washing and cooking create. Keep the devices free of dust, lint, grease or anything that could keep them from working efficiently.
Other simple ways to reduce air moisture include:
- Covering pots while cooking, when possible
- Leaving room doors open to allow good air circulation
- Storing firewood outside
- Covering aquariums
If high humidity is a problem you can't overcome by other methods, remove moisture from the air with a dehumidifier. They're effective in laundry rooms, basements, bathrooms and any room that isn't air-conditioned or has poor air circulation. Look for ENERGY STAR® qualified models, which consume less energy than conventional dehumidifiers.