Do I need a humidifier?
It is estimated Americans spend close to 90% of their time indoors. As most people in Chicago know, the air inside your home can get pretty dry year-round, and especially during the winter. While warmer air contains higher levels of moisture, colder air has a lower humidity, meaning less moisture. When you turn up the heat in your home, the air does warm up, but it still has a low humidity. This is one reason why it is so important to have a good quality humidifier in your home.
What’s the Right Humidity Level for a Home?
The key to maintaining an ideal humidity level in your home is to know the relative humidity, which is the level of water vapor in the air expressed as a percentage of the saturation point. In most cases, a relative humidity of 30 to 50 percent is optimal for health and sensitive home materials like wood and drywall. The best way to monitor the relative humidity throughout your home is to purchase a hygrometer; low-tech digital models generally work well and can be purchased at most hardware stores for under $20.
Home Furnace Humidifiers Versus Portable Humidifiers
Choosing a home furnace humidifier over portable humidifier models offer many advantages for homeowners:
- Home furnace humidifiers treat the entire home without the need to purchase multiple portable units or move them from room to room.
- Home furnace humidifiers require less maintenance than portable humidifiers. Portable humidifiers must be filled frequently, while whole home models are directly plumbed to a water source so filling a reservoir is not required. Portable units must be cleaned and descaled regularly, while whole home models require annual maintenance only.
Types of Home Furnace Humidifiers
Whole home humidifiers are installed to work directly with the home furnace system. There are three main types of home furnace humidifiers, which operate differently.
Bypass humidifiers are installed on bypass ducting and work only when the furnace is in use. They do not have a motor, thus rely on the furnace’s blower motor to circulate air through the humidifier to be moisturized by the water panel and moved into the home.
Fan-powered humidifiers are installed on the furnace’s return or supply plenum. They use a built-in fan to move air through the humidifier’s water panel, so they can be used even when the furnace is not running to supply adequate humidity to the home whenever needed.
Steam Humidifiers Boil Water
Steam humidifiers boil water, creating steam which mixes with air circulating through the home furnace. Steam humidifiers produce more humidity than bypass and fan-powered models, but do draw more power to operate.
How Do Furnace Humidifiers Work?
As you might guess, furnace humidifiers install right onto your main heating and cooling system, usually in the ductwork right leading out from your furnace. The warm air leaves the furnace, passes through the fan that pushes it through the ducts, and then flows past the humidifier and out into the rest of your home.
There are 3 main types of furnace humidifier:
- Steam humidifers produce either a warm or cool mist, and therefore produce the most moisture. They’re also easier to maintain, but they do require a small amount of electricity. There is almost no risk of mold.
- Flow through humidifiers expose the warm air from your furnace to a constant trickle of water. The water naturally evaporates into the air leaving your furnace. While there is a filter pad that needs to be changed periodically, they are low maintenance overall. Again, these have almost no risk of mold.
- Drum humidifiers have a pan of water, and a rotating belt that passes through the pan. The water from the moistened belt evaporates into the air leaving your furnace. Because this type of humidifier has a standing pan of water, you need to be diligent about cleaning it or mold can form. This is the least expensive type of furnace humidifier.
You can install a humidifier on almost any kind of furnace system, even older ones.
Dry Air Can Damage Your Family’s Health and Home
- Low humidity can increase your likelihood of getting colds, flu and other upper respiratory ailments. Viruses that cause colds and flu thrive in low humidity. And, according to The American Society of Otolaryngology, dry air can make people more susceptible to infection. In addition, drier air can aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms.?
- Low humidity can cause home damage. It causes walls, woodwork, and your beautiful hardwood floors to crack. Electronics can fall victim to static electric charges, requiring expensive repair or replacement.
- Low humidity can cause higher energy costs. Low humidity can make you feel too cold at normal temperatures leading you to turn up the thermostat. This leads to higher energy bills.
Benefits of Evaporative Humidification:
- Prevents Flu and Allergies
- Neutralizes Static Electricity
- Reduces Pet Dander and Discomfort
- Protects Fine Furniture, Wood Floors, and Musical Instruments
- Relieves Dry Skin and Scratchy Throats
- Reduces Heating Costs
Getting the Most from Your Furnace Humidifier
Whole home humidifiers work best with modern variable-speed furnaces. That’s because these operate at lower, efficient speeds most of the time and can provide a more continuous flow of moistened air to your home. It’s also good to know that variable-speed furnaces are much more energy efficient.
Having a qualified technician assess your home is the smartest things you can do to ensure you stay warm and healthy all winter long.
Indoor Air Quality Testing
Throughout your home, there could be contaminants that you do not know about that are quietly contributing to air quality problems in every room of the house. These are common sources of indoor air pollution, but in order to know what is really going on in your home, you need to get the air tested. Let us help you. During estimate we have an AirAdvice for Homes™ indoor air quality test in your home – it’s simple.
Learn more about each specific method and consult us to select the appropriate solution for your home comfort. Get an AirAdvice for Homes™ test to determine the actual IAQ problem.