Can high humidity damage your home?

Woman sitting on bed with books in front of a fan during high humidity levels that could cause mould and property damage.

Major weather shifts present a range of risks for homeowners. Some – like bushfires, storms and flooding – can create easily observable turmoil, and could result in damages to your property which may need to be addressed by your home insurance coverage.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) suggests the La Niña event much of eastern Australia has been experiencing for the past few months will begin to wind down in autumn, eventually taking its damaging storms and cyclones with it.

But other less dramatic weather events can also pose significant problems when it comes to property damage. If you live in Queensland, you may have sweltered through the heatwave earlier this week which saw humidity levels reach an oppressive 90% in air temperatures above 38 degrees celsius. 

You might not immediately think a sweaty scenario like this could damage your property, but humidity can be a stealthy opponent. 

Hot weather, humidity and moisture: A dangerous combination 

When the mercury spikes, you may sometimes feel it doesn’t adequately represent the overwhelming heat you’re experiencing. This could be because humidity is particularly high, which increases the measure of what the air temp ‘feels like’ rather than what’s recorded by the BOM.

Apart from this being rather uncomfortable, it can cause a surprising amount of problems around the house. If left unchecked, prolonged bouts of humid weather (which are often coupled with rain and heat) can encourage the growth of mould and mildew. 

You might spot it on shower curtains and in tile grouting, or it could penetrate deeper into build materials like carpets and wood flooring, or even walls and ceilings in extreme cases. Items in areas which aren’t well ventilated could also be affected, so be sure to keep an eye on clothes or furniture in cupboards or confined spaces. 

While it might creep up on you, humidity can kick-start a number of problems which may be difficult to resolve, so make sure you’re on the lookout for issues when the air feels heavy. 

As a rough guide, if humidity is sitting between 30% and 60% you should be relatively comfortable. If it rises over 70%, you could be facing some of these issues as well as health concerns that can come with breathing in airborne mould spores. 

Using dehumidifiers and aircon can help in these situations, as well as airing out your home once the humid weather has dissipated.

Does home insurance cover mould damage?

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely your home and contents insurance will cover damages caused by mould, including cleaning and removal costs. This is because most insurance companies consider mould damage as something that’s avoidable, with the process of preventing mould often classified as general home maintenance (also usually not covered by insurance).

Sure, some mould around the house is a common sighting, but most insurance providers expect you to reasonably be able to intervene before mould and mildew advances to a level where it causes severe property or contents damage. 

Since the situation would have to be developing for some time, presumably acknowledged by homeowners, it is what’s considered a ‘known event’. These circumstances are generally excluded from coverage – insurance policies exist to step in and help cover costs after unavoidable and unpredictable events.

Like many other things not covered by home insurance, the exact details of what may or may not be covered in relation to humidity and other weather conditions will vary. So, be sure to carefully read your policy’s product disclosure statement (PDS) for all the details.

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