Why are Whole House Humidifiers Important?

A whole house humidifier can help make the air inside your home more comfortable, especially during times of the year when outdoor air is dry.   In the Long Island area, winters are especially tough on your home comfort, as cold temperatures often carry with them levels of humidity well below what’s needed to keep you from feeling dry and uncomfortable.

If the relative humidity is below 30%, the air passages in your nose and lower airways in the lungs can become dry and irritated.   In people prone to asthma, this can cause an asthma attack.   Also, your skin can become dry and cracked.

Low humidity can also damage wooden objects like furniture, hardwood floors, musical instruments and even your home’s framing, as the dry air sucks out the moisture contained within them.   One of the most annoying effects of dry indoor air is static shock. As you walk across a carpet or slide off upholstered furniture, a static charge builds up in your body and results in a sudden, uncomfortable “zap” of electricity when you touch a piece of metal or other conductor.

To avoid these problems, humidity levels should be at around 30-50%.   If your home is too dry and you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, a whole house humidifier may be able to help.   Whole house units, as opposed to portable ones which can humidify a room or two, connect directly to your furnace and work with your heating and cooling system to distribute moisture throughout your entire home.   They either inject steam into the air or circulate it through a humidifying pad.

There are 3 basic types of whole house humidifiers:

  • Bypass flow-through humidifiers connect to a bypass off a supply or return air flow in order to create pressure that drives the air through the humidifying pad
  • Powered flow-through humidifiers have a built-in fan that draws the air into the humidifier and across the pad. They are easier to install than bypass flow-through humidifiers since they require no bypass ductwork.
  • Steam humidifiers evaporate the water and inject the resulting steam into the air. Their main advantage is that they are able to operate independently from your furnace – so that you do not need to turn the furnace on to add some moisture into your air.

Maintaining proper levels of humidity in your home benefits you in a number of ways.   By humidifying your home, you will:

1. Save energy- Warm, humid summer air feels hotter than it actually is because of the moisture it contains.   That same principle applies to your home in the winter.   By keeping the relative humidity inside your home at an ideal level, you can turn your thermostat down a few degrees and still feel comfortable.

2. Prevent discomfort- Properly humidified homes are more comfortable to live in.   Occupants suffering from respiratory problems will find that their symptoms are relieved.   Also, proper humidity doesn’t allow mold and mildew to grow in your home.   This is critical to good indoor air quality. You also won’t have to deal with static electricity.

3. Preserve your home and its contents- Since low humidity dries out anything that holds moisture, your furniture and wood framing will last longer when humidity levels are at the proper level.

Whole house humidifiers can be the solution to some of your home comfort issues.   Ask us about what these units can do for you.

T.F. O’Brien services the Long Island, New York area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about preventive maintenance and other HVAC topics, please download our free  Home Comfort Resource guide.

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