moisture problems
  • July 5, 2021
  • Effective Building
  • 0

Any leakage and moisture problems in your home aren’t something to ignore. Either the leaks come from a hole in your roof or a plumbing issue, mould and bacterial growth can start within 24 to 48 hours of a moisture intrusion, even if water damage is unnoticeable. Damp houses have been proven to cause respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, and the current COVID-19.

According to Dr. Richard Shaughnessy, University of Tulsa’s Clean Air Program director, moisture problems in homes have been associated with respiratory issues within homes. There are mould, bacteria, and dampness conducive to having more pests and dust mites in the home.

In short, there are several hosts of agents that may be responsible for moisture-related health effects. 

Moisture-Related Health Effects


Moisture is the main breeding ground for bacteria. Any antibacterial products cannot treat a damp house. Bacterial colonies grow on moist organic matter, such as wooden floorboards.


According to Patrick Breysse of Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, there are higher cockroach and mouse allergens when there’s water damage in a home.

These types of homes are not healthy environments for asthmatic kids. Rat and cockroach waste materials are asthma triggers, and these pests survive in damp environments.

Dust Mites

If you’re allergic to dust mites, you may be usual to itchy eyes, sneezing, stuffy nose, asthmatic symptoms that they cause. According to the University of Nebraska Extension Services, dust mites thrive in temperatures around 80 degrees F and 60% humidity levels. 

Air conditioning has proven to be helpful to people with dust mites as it continuously cools and dehumidifies the air.


People get sick from living and working in damp spaces. According to Dr. Harriet Amman, University of Washington toxicologist, dampness is what makes us all sick. The mould, smell, and mould visibility become an indicator. An emerging body of data suggested that the mould itself causes respiratory illnesses and allergic reactions. 

How Do Lower Levels of Humidity Can Spread COVID?

When we head indoors for the cold season, most of us are at the heightened risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 due to lower humidity levels in the air.

UH pulmonologist David Rosenberg, MD, MPH, states that breathing air doesn’t only recommend relative humidity levels irritate respiratory passages. However, doing so contributes to an increased risk of contracting influenza and COVID-19.

Definition of Relative Humidity

Relative humidity measures the water vapor amount in the air compared to the water vapor the air can hold. All in all, colder air retains less water vapour than warmer air.

Once the furnaces draw in cooler, less humid air, the heating process enhances the air’s capacity to hold water, causing the plummet of relative humidity. 

40%-60% is the ideal relative humidity for human-occupied buildings. However, indoor relative humidity can dip down to 20% or lower during the winter months.

3 Ways Relative Humidity Can Play a Role in the COVID-19 Transmission

Low Relative Humidity Dries Out Respiratory Ways

Low relative humidity has a drying effect on mucous linings of our eyes. These cells act as a defense against viral particles and other foreign substances.

When the airway linings dry out, this impairs the ability to function properly. When there are insufficient moisture levels, viral particles can easily stick in airway receptor sites, leading to an increased risk of infection.

High Relative Humidity Kills Virus Faster

On the other hand, higher relative humidity can kill viruses faster. In environments where viral particles die faster, less viral material remains suspended in the air, leading to a reduced risk of infection.

Low Relative Humidity Worsens Airborne Transmission of Aerosols and Water Droplets

Lower relative humidity worsens the airborne transmission of aerosols and water droplets. When we sneeze, cough, talk, or sing, smaller water particles and water droplets containing living viruses disperse into the air.

Aerosols and droplets tend to stay afloat longer and travel farther in the air with lower relative humidity. In particular, virus-containing aerosols can penetrate more deeply into the lungs to increase the possibility of transmission.

Some research proves that coronavirus has the potential to stay longer on surfaces in colder environments. This is supported by data collected on COVID-19 outbreaks in China and Seattle.

How Can Effective Building & Consultancy Help With Moisture Problems?

Mould releases chemicals and spores into the air when growing inside a home. Over time, this can adversely affect human health. 

Though they can decrease moisture, humidifiers aren’t enough solution to treat this problem, especially if the root causes are leaks from plumbing and foundation issues. In this case, a professional building inspection is the best solution for the proper assessment.

We at Effective Building & Consultancy can inspect the property for moisture through the use of our moisture meter, humidity reader, and thermal camera. This way, we can accurately detect moisture pockets causing mould growth. 

After the moisture inspection, we create a comprehensive building inspection report. From there, we will advise you on the best recommendations to treat or repair the root causes of moisture.

If you want to know more about our building inspection services, call us on 02 9613 3353 or visit our Help Centre.

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About Elie Farah

Elie Farah is a Building Consultant with over 25 years of experience in the property industry. Elie has specialised knowledge in development acquisitions, blue-chip properties and inspections, as well as flood-affected and waterfront properties, heritage buildings, bushfire management and existing use rights.

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