Healthy Living Conditions Promote Holistic Health and General Well-Being Among Residents.
Since its beginnings in 2020, the global pandemic has caused people general concern about their overall health and about how their physical and mental wellness might be affected by conditions in their living spaces. How can you make your rental units into places that are healthy and safe? According to Harvard’s Annual Review of Public Health, the areas where people work and live influence their health. A healthy residence promotes holistic health and general well-being, and a poorly maintained one contributes to ill health, including chronic disease, respiratory problems, and physical injuries.
Poor indoor air quality places your tenants at greater risk for serious health difficulties. A majority of Americans spend most of their time indoors, which is why eliminating potential interior air quality hazards and controlling related risk factors is essential to maintaining good management/tenant relations. Monitoring indoor air quality is a necessary first step to avoid the several adverse effects related to excessive humidity. Excessive humidity levels can make your property a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and pollutants that can cause inconvenience, discomfort, and disease for your tenants, and cosmetic and even irreversible structural damage to your multi family unit. Approximately 20% of homes globally are affected by some imbalance of humidity that negatively affects living conditions.
Ideal Humidity Levels
The Building Science Corporation found that 70% or higher humidity levels can, over time, severely damage structures. The Mayo Clinic suggests an ideal relative indoor humidity level at home for health and comfort should be between 30% and 50%, range. With these things in mind, your rental property’s ideal humidity level will also depend on seasonal changes and on the relative humidity and outdoor temperatures in your locale.
Damp, humid summer months can put your MFU property at risk– seasonal swelling and distortion of door and window frames increase wear and tear on these components, wood floors and cabinet doors and drawers can permanently warp and twist, and structurally damaging mold and mildew can develop quickly in basements and other areas of the property during this time.
These same damp, humid summer months can also put the health of your tenants at risk–dampness and high levels of humidity facilitate mold growth, which can cause or complicate several serious health conditions including asthma. According to the EPA and Berkeley National Laboratory, of the 21.8 million people reported having asthma in the country, roughly 4.6 million cases are estimated to be due to their exposure to mold and moisture in the residence.
Mold is generally found indoors in dark, damp places with little ventilation, such as attics and basements. At least 45 million buildings in the US have unhealthy levels of mold. Your MFU units’ (residences or offices) air quality might be the provable source of respiratory issues for your tenants exposing you to action at law.
There are many reasons why interior humidity levels might fluctuate erratically in MFUs. These can include leaking faucets and pipes, cycling of washers and dryers, bathing, and cooking activities.
Using a hygrometer helps to measure your MFU’s interior humidity in individual units and in common areas. This handy instrument detects the humidity level in a given location. You can place one in living spaces relatively far from bathrooms or kitchens. Avoid placing your hygrometer on exterior doors or windows or the reading might be affected by rain or other exterior conditions. Although a hygrometer is not finely calibrated and only very generally accurate, even a simple hygrometer allows you to become proactive about the moisture levels in your property.
Does your MFU have potentially harmful levels of indoor humidity?
Healthy levels of indoor humidity are necessary to ensure comfortable living conditions for your tenants and to prevent lawsuits based on the presence of mold in units you own or manage. Besides the readings from a hygrometer, the following are also indicators that can help determine if your rental property has a humidity level for mold growth that may put tenant health and safety at risk:
- Visible condensation: Condensation on the interior surfaces of windows and doors is a cause for immediate concern. In addition to the obvious health hazards this poses, property damage will already be in progress.
- Additional signs of damage – Severe damage will become evident. Stucco crumbles. Wood floors and furniture swell and warp. Indoor paint chips and peels. Water blisters appear on exterior painted surfaces. Water stains on ceilings and any discoloration (usually a yellow or rust hue) on walls also indicate excessive interior humidity that threaten both your tenants and your structure’s useful life.
- Proliferation of mold and allergens: Damp, humid interior spaces support the proliferation of allergens and molds that can render your property unfit for habitation.
How Humidity Affects Your Property Value
Providing a living space that is free from physical hazards promotes the overall health and comfort of your tenants. In contrast, uncomfortable, even dangerous interior conditions lead to problems that negatively affect your management goals. When your MFU’s humidity falls outside recommended levels, you risk your tenants’ discontent, your property’s structural integrity, and your bottom line. When left unmanaged, too much moisture in the property can lead to:
- mold, mildew, and allergen growth and the proliferation of other airborne pollutants that can make your property unfit for occupancy.
- property damage including deterioration of wall coverings, drywall, flooring, doors, window frames, draperies, interior trim, bathroom and kitchen cabinetry, free-standing furniture pieces, and in severe cases deterioration of structural members.
- increased energy bills as your tenants attempt to find relief through control of the thermostat.
It may sound sensible to lower the humidity in your MFU, but be advised, a moisture level that is too low can be just as dangerous and damaging to your units and to the comfort and contentment of your tenants as excessive humidity. As suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the optimal level is between 30-50% humidity.
Dry indoor air can:
- cause your tenants discomfort– the skin feels itchy and cold, sensitive mucous membranes to dry out, leading to sore throat, chapped lips, and sinus infection, aggravated breathing problems, and support the spread of cold and flu viruses.
- can shrink and distort wood materials in the property, damaging doors, door frames, wood floors, kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, and furniture.
- can increase energy bills as your tenants increase the burden on your AC units in the attempt to realize some relief.
There needs to be a balance, and with an Innovative Dehumidifier installed in your MFU, you will be able to achieve the best of both worlds.
How to resolve humidity issues in MFUs with Innovative Dehumidifiers
Humidity levels that are too high or too low can negatively affect the comfort and health of your tenants as well as the structural integrity of your property, no matter where you are located. A properly installed dehumidifier is an effective way to help control indoor moisture and lower relative humidity — to eliminate excessive dampness that can swell and distort structural components and that supports the growth of mold and mildew in the properties you own or manage.
A dehumidifier reduces the humidity levels in the air by drawing warm humid air into its cooling coil by means of a fan and then returning this dry air to the room. The moisture in the air condenses on the coils then collects in a reservoir that must usually be manually emptied, although self-draining dehumidifiers are also available.
The Environmental Protection Agency emphasizes the importance of controlling humidity and moisture to prevent mold. A dehumidifier is necessary to accomplish this end. Dehumidifiers come in various sizes to accommodate homes, businesses, and multifamily units.
There are many different sizes of dehumidifiers available to meet your needs. A dehumidifier’s size depends on the size of the room and how much moisture the equipment must remove. A larger capacity unit (or multiple in-wall units) is the better option if you have a large room, an MFU or apartment property, or excessive moisture in the air.
A smaller model may be ideal if you only need to control humidity in a small space, such as an office, a hotel room, or apartment unit. Dehumidifiers come in models to suit a variety of needs– from those designed to remove from two pints per day (p/d) to as many as eighty.
How to Prevent Mold in Multi-family Units with IW25-4 Dehumidifier
Dehumidifiers help reduce and prevent mold in high humidity units or apartment complexes by removing moisture from the air.
If you manage multifamily units, consider the size of your buildings and units and local climate before purchasing dehumidifiers. The size of your building will determine how much moisture needs to be removed from the air.
If the dehumidifier will be used regularly, you should purchase one that has a long lifespan and can run continuously without overheating or breaking down–spend more in the build out to save over the lifetime of your properties.
The IW25-4 Dehumidifier is an effective and efficient solution to humidity problems in multifamily units. This self-draining in-wall dehumidifier removes up to 30 pints of water per day, nearly 22 gallons per week. It operates at an almost inaudible 45 decibels and maintains indoor humidity below 60% to prevent mold growth and problem condensation. It is easy to install and suitable for existing multifamily units or new construction.
IW25-4 Dehumidifier is a powerful solution to control humidity in multifamily properties. It is designed to fit in a standard wall stud cavity, and its installation is simple and easy. With the IW25-4, you can exercise more control over your indoor environment and help lower indoor moisture.
Installing IW25-4 Dehumidifiers in high humidity areas and units make it a win-win for all!