This time of year, it is common to wake up with a dry nose, or a scratchy throat. Later in the day you might even experience nosebleeds, chapped lips, dry skin, or an increase of acne. You might also notice an increase in static electricity, creaks in hardwood floors, or hardwood furniture starting to crack, these are all symptoms of the air becoming drier during the winter months. Which brings us to the question, what can I do about it?
Warmer air holds more moisture than cold air and in winter that cold air seeps into your home. While you can turn up your heat an make your home nice and toasty again just turning on the heat doesn’t bring moisture back into the air, for that you need a humidifier. Most people choose to use a portable humidifier but if you have an HVAC system you can install a whole home humidifier.
A whole house humidifier should not be confused with a portable humidifier. A portable humidifier is a device that you plug into the wall and place in the middle of a room. These humidifiers can only control the humidity of one room at a time, and they require frequent maintenance like changing the water and keeping the device clean. A whole house humidifier, on the other hand, is installed directly in your heating system’s ductwork. When your furnace is cycling and heating air in your home, that air is also humidified by the whole house humidifier. This means that every room in your home can enjoy humidified air by using a single unit.
A whole house humidifier is installed in your ductwork near your furnace, either on the supply or return end. The unit is also connected directly to your home’s water supply. Inside of the humidifier is a either a humidifier pad, a rotating drum or a steaming system that is used to distribute water to your home’s air. While the humidifier is running, water continuously runs down the humidifier pad, is collected by the rotating drum or is misted into the device, depending on your model. When air from your ducts enters the humidifier, it is exposed to the water inside. The water evaporates into the air, which increases the moisture levels of the air that exits the humidifier on the other side. While your furnace is running, a portion of the air that it cycles is directed into the humidifier. That air goes through the humidifier and joins back up with the rest of your home’s airflow. As a result, all the air that’s delivered to your home has higher moisture levels, which effectively raises the humidity in every room.
Fortunately, whole house humidifiers require very little maintenance. If your model uses a humidifier pad or filter, the media typically needs to be replaced about once per year. If you have a steam humidifier, it simply needs to be cleaned annually. When having your whole home humidifier cleaned ensure you use a HVAC company familiar with whole home humidifiers, when improperly maintained they can lead to mold growth inside your duct work.