Managing Moisture in small spaces

Managing Moisture in Tiny Homes

Managing moisture and humidity in a small space is an important consideration when designing your heating and ventilation system.  Humidity from cooking, showering, and breathing builds up quickly in a small space if it's not well-ventilated.  A typical family can add gallons of moisture to the air throughout the day.

Airstream in the forest wiht Tiny Wood Stove flue
Airstream in the forest wiht Tiny Wood Stove flue

In a tiny space, humidity buildup can be a much bigger problem than in traditional construction. Since the interior volume of a typical Tiny Home is so small, humidity levels can rise quickly.  During the Winter, humidity condenses on cold walls and windows, which can cause mold to form.

How Heaters Affect Humidity

Some heating systems, like unvented propane heaters, add moisture to the air as they heat.  On a cold day, a catalytic heater can pump gallons of water into your air.

Other heating systems, like propane furnaces, don't add additional moisture to your air, but don't remove it either. Unless you open a window (or have a heat recovery ventilator installed), humidity will continue to build up in your living space.

A powerful dry heater like a wood stove can be used not only to heat your space, but to dehumidify it.  All of the combustion products of wood burning go up the chimney, adding zero humidity to your space.  Since a wood stove is such a powerful heater, it can be used to dehumidify your space.

Using a Wood Stove as a Dehumidifier

An electric dehumidifier is an option if you have enough power to spare. A wood stove though can serve as a dehumidifier on the cold days when it's needed most. Even off-grid, a wood stove can dehumidify your space using zero electricity.

If you notice some condensation forming on your windows, throw an extra log on the fire to produce a bit of extra heat. Crack a roof vent or a window near the ceiling just enough to allow a small amount of air to escape.  The extra heat rising from your space will carry the moisture in the room along with it. And your wood stove will keep your space comfortably warm.

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