During the colder months, when homes are tightly sealed and furnaces are running, indoor air can become very dry. While the ideal indoor humidity level is between 30 and 50 percent, dry winter air can deplete humidity levels all the way down to 15 percent, which is drier than the air in most deserts. This can cause a range of health issues, including dry skin, scratchy throats, and nosebleeds. It can also damage your home by causing wood floors and furniture to warp, crack, and dry out. Dry air also feels cooler on the skin, which means you have to crank up your thermostat to feel comfortable. A whole-house humidifier is a convenient and effective way to put much-needed moisture back into the air in your home.
Whole-house humidifiers use the air heated by your furnace to disperse humidity to your entire home. Depending on the type, they may operate with or independently from your system’s heat cycle. There are two primary types of whole-house humidifiers: bypass humidifiers and steam humidifiers. Both are operated via a humidistat, which allows it to be adjusted to the appropriate humidity setting and will automatically turn the humidifier on and off as necessary.
Bypass humidifiers, sometimes also called an evaporative humidifier or a flow-through humidifier, adds moisture to the air via the furnace by drawing warm air from the home’s heat ducts and passing it through a water pad. The air absorbs moisture from the water pad and then circulates it back into the air and into your home. Because they are powered by your furnace’s fan, they must be installed on your ductwork on the cold-air return. While bypass humidifiers are generally less expensive upfront and require little maintenance, they only operate if your furnace is operating.
Steam humidifiers create humidity by heating water in a canister until it boils to convert the water to steam. The steam is picked up by the system blower and then forced through the ductwork. Steam humidifiers are the fastest and most efficient method of creating and maintaining an appropriate and comfortable level of humidity. Steam is also a natural form of humidity. Although steam humidifiers are installed in the ducts, they can operate as needed even when the furnace isn’t on. While steam humidifiers cost more initially and use more electricity to operate, they are the most effective type. They are a great choice if you have high-end wood furniture, wood flooring, have a large home, or need precise humidity control.
Regardless of which type of whole-house humidifier you choose, make sure you select one that is able to provide enough moisture for your entire home. The experts at Overland Park Heating and Cooling can help you find the perfect humidifier for home’s square footage.