We’ve had a number of illnesses recently and it seems like from October till the end of January we were all constantly ill with various things. The two notable ones was the sickness bug which was going around at the time, which was putting many school classes down to half numbers in a lot of areas. The second was the recent flu epidemic, which according to some reports has been particularly bad this winter.
So, a couple of lingering illnesses and another general cold as well led us to trying to work out if there was something else affecting us, or making it easier to get ill. The two external factors which were stong contenders were to do with the house, which were the internal temperature and the internal humidity.
Given the winter this year was one of the coldest for 10 years or so, we thought a lower temperature could be affecting us. The problem wasn’t that it wasn’t warm enough (as we have radiators in the bedroom and a wood burner for the living area), but it was the variations. This was first thing in the morning before the stove had been fired up and the kitchen which was colder. So this could have been a factor, but with the right clothes, I personally didn’t find it a problem.
As I didn’t feel cold, we thought there could be something else. We’d known about humidity and moisture for a while and this was one of the reasons for organising the insulating render, to even out both temperature and humidity. But, we couldn’t confirm if it was too humid. Too much humidity can lead to all sorts of health problems, associated with an increase in dust mites, mold, mildew and fungus. particularly in our Victorian house, with its suspended floor over (essentially) soil, colder and damp air is a problem.
So, I bought a combined thermometer and hygrometer, for only £10. This told us that our living room averages between 65-67% humidity, without the stove on or windows open. The recommended range is something e=between 45-55%, so this was more than 10% above the good range.
So, I did a couple of experiemnts to see what bring this down. The first was to literally open all the upstairs and downstairs windows (on a mild day) and get some good ventilation through the house. The results were pretty convincing…
In the space of an hour, the humidity went down from 67% to 57%, but the temperature only went down by 1 degree C. So, for a reduction of 10% moisture, it only went down by 1 degree, plus it felt a lot fresher and cleaner.
I’ve also noticed that while we’ve had the front window on the latch with the stove on, the moisture content had been going slowly down, to roughly 59% without going to the extreme of opening all the windows etc. The temperature is also holding at 20 degrees (with stove on). It seems that with the stove on and at least some ventilation, the humidity stays around 58%. It’s also down to the external humidity levels and temperature but it’s an interesting series of tests.
We’ve also got an external thermometer so we can then compare the differences between internal and external, before and after the insulated render is installed. We’ve also got to fit the skirting boards around the living room and also get the loft hatch re-done – hopefully all these things will do the trick!