Low levels of humidity can result in many different issues that a whole-home humidifier might prevent. These can range from random bloody noses and dry, cracking skin to a sudden static shock if you shake hands with someone at your front door. You might even have a cough you can’t seem to shake right before flu season.
All of these might be related to poor humidity control throughout your house. A single-room humidifier might help part of your home, but only a whole-home humidifier can protect you throughout your residence. Whether or not one is right for your home is a matter of weighing the pros and cons along with other pertinent factors.
Warning Signs That You Might Benefit From a Whole-House Humidifier
Depending on how many people you live with or are in your family, you might already know that everyone has their own preferences in terms of temperature. The right HVAC system should be a source of physical comfort. Then again, the thermostat in your home might also be a flashpoint for tension.
Temperature isn’t the only aspect of staying physically comfortable, however. Humidity is another one. There are certain warning signs that might indicate that the air in your home is too dry.
- Dry skin
- Itchy eyes
- Sore, scratchy throat
- Annoying, frequent discharges of static electricity
- Cracking paint
- Contracting or warped wood cabinets and flooring
If anyone in your home is suffering from these issues, or you notice these physical conditions happening to your home, then you might have low humidity that you need to deal with. The more prevalent these warning signs are, the more serious your home’s issues might be.
What’s the Right Humidity Level in a Home?
This, like temperature, is a matter of personal preference. However, most humans are comfortable in a relative humidity range of 30% to 50%. Use a hygrometer to check humidity levels indoors. Some wall clocks actually have this feature alongside a thermometer so you can better determine what your personal comfort levels are. When in doubt, you can always reach out to a local indoor air quality specialist for an assessment of your home’s air.
What Are Whole-Home Humidifiers?
A whole-house or whole-home humidifier doesn’t just provide humidification for a single room but the entire home. Whole-house models are typically installed right in the ductwork, often close to the indoor air handler or furnace. Newer models might have powered fans that will directly circulate moisture into the ductwork and do so automatically based on their programming.
Bypass humidifiers do not proactively move moisture into your ductwork. Instead, they are positioned so that air passes through them. This air will absorb humidifier moisture before continuing throughout your home.
Power humidifiers don’t rely on HVAC-generated airflow. They come with their own blower motors so they can circulate moisture through your home’s ductwork.
Steam humidifiers produce steam that moves through your home’s ductwork. That involves electrical components. This kind of humidifier heats the water inside a reservoir before it turns into steam and moves throughout your home.
The Advantages of Whole-House Humidifiers
Having a central home humidifier can certainly have some perks, other than just preventing the issues already mentioned. For starters, you will likely have automatic humidity control. Once you know the level you are comfortable with, you can keep it there around the clock.
Ducted humidifiers don’t require a lot of maintenance. You will likely only need to have the evaporator panel or filter changed once a year and cleaned for mineral debris. An HVAC technician is your best bet here since they have the right know-how and perform this service all the time. Also, working with a professional means that you won’t have to remember something you only do once a year.
You’ll improve your indoor air quality. If your air is at least 35% humid, there are going to be fewer instances of sinus irritations, dry skin, sore throats, and chapped lips. You will simultaneously preserve wood furniture, walls, floors, and cabinetry. Some home insurance policies won’t even insure vulnerable items without a whole-home humidifier in place.
Static electricity is going to be seriously reduced as well. That can make it easier to play with kids and pets or greet people at the door.
One potentially unexpected benefit is possibly saving money. It is hardware that needs to be installed, and it might use some electricity. However, it might also reduce your heating bill in the winter. With more moisture, your winter air inside will retain more heat in the water molecules.
The Potential Downsides
As with anything involving your home, there is always some cost or disadvantage that you might need to consider. Whole-home humidifiers are no exception. Depending on your circumstances, some or all of these might apply.
For starters, it will cost you money. Whole-home humidifiers might run from $150 up to $800. Labor for installation can add a few more hundred dollars, since cutting ductwork is a professional task.
Proper maintenance is crucial, and that’s not just to protect your investment. You also want to avoid the growth of mold or mildew inside your system. Dust can be a potent food source for mold, particularly in a moist environment.
Your central humidifier might also hide air leaks. This is a bigger risk for older homes that were constructed when building codes weren’t as advanced as they are now. Your home’s low humidity might result from unsealed air ducts, so have those inspected first.
Ironically, as much as central humidification might help prevent warping and cracking in wood surfaces due to dry air, it can also make the air too humid. The consequence might be cupping and swelling, especially on hardwood floors.
Keeping humidity levels in your home optimal should be obvious during the winter, but can a whole-home humidifier help when it is hot and humid outside? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Your air conditioning system will likely be running a lot, and it cools down your home’s air by removing moisture that contains heat. The result is cool air, but it’s also air that’s very dry.
At times, it might be too dry. People in your home might wind up having the same allergy and sinus issues that they would during the winter. This might be even more true if everyone spends a lot of time indoors because it is so warm and muggy outside.
Let Industry Professionals Help You
Whether or not a whole-house humidifier is something you need is ultimately your decision. However, consulting one of our technicians can help you talk things out with an industry professional.
In addition to humidifiers, we also offer homes and businesses in the Hanover region of Maryland air conditioning maintenance, repairs, and installation. We also handle service calls, repairs, and replacements for heat pumps and furnaces. From custom ductwork and duct cleaning to air purifiers and family plans, we are your local HVAC solution. Contact [company name] as soon as you have a moment to find out how we can help you with all of your heating, air conditioning, and indoor air quality needs.