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Awesome weather here in Wisconsin so far this November – highs around 50-60F this week – can you believe it? The cold temperatures are coming, though, and typically the relative humidity in our homes drops for the season. But that is not always the case. If moisture from cooking, bathing, respiration and other sources gets trapped indoors, it can become a problem, especially where it contacts cold surfaces like windows and doors.

Researchers at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) said that repeated exposure to indoor allergens and airborne particles could lead to respiratory symptoms and conditions. Doug Garrett, CEM, CDSM, building scientist and president of Building Performance and Comfort said, “If there was just one thing I could do to fix buildings, it would be to change the relative humidity.”

Moisture can lead to conditions that degrade indoor air quality. Yeast, mold and other biologicals sometimes become a big problem in a home with excessive humidity, and the winter months can be even more problematic than humid summer months.

If condensation on your windows is frequent in the winter it is important to address that issue. Health issues and property damage could result if the problem is not corrected. I learned first hand the importance of this in my own home. Make sure you are addressing the sources of excessive moisture, and make sure you have adequate fresh air in your home (your house needs to breathe).

Certainly upgrading your windows may be a good idea, but at the very least be sure to wipe any condensation to prevent mold or other invasive organisms from becoming a problem in your home. There are also a number of green, highly effective, enzyme-based cleaning and mold inhibitive solutions on the market that can help with this.

Try to keep your relative humidity to a reasonably low level, especially when the temperatures plummet outdoors.

If you do suspect mold or other potentially harmful organisms are growing in your home due to window condensation or other moisture problems, you can take a brief indoor air quality survey at http://www.iaqscreening.com/03289.  The survey may give you added clarity and ideas. Doug Hoffman’s book Mold Free Construction is also a good source of information along these lines, with 36 explicit and straight forward steps home owners can take to improve indoor air quality.

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