How to Buy a Whole House Humidifier

Buy a Humidifier: Choosing a whole-house humidifier

Before you buy a humidifier, of any type, let's touch upon the why of humidification. Many of us like the break in hot weather and welcome a white winter (especially on Christmas day). But along with the winter days come dry air, which can be unpleasant. Dry winter air, when coupled with a forced air furnace can cause nose-bleeds for some, dry skin, dry cracking lips, dry nasal passages, coughing, sore throats, and more.

The dry air can also suck the moisture out of wood furniture (pianos for ex.), wood floors, or wooden members of your home.

The operation of your forced air furnace only amplifies the problem.

A humidifier installed into your forced air system can replace the lost moisture and make your home more comfortable and pleasant. There are inexpensive portable humidifiers available on the market, but these are not nearly as effective or convenient as a whole house humidifier.

Humidification in the home increases your comfort level. 68*F with 35% relative humidity can feel as comfortable as 72*F in a dry atmosphere.

ASHRAE recommends a 35% RH level for comfort and control of molds, bacteria, viruses, allergens, ozone production, and more. Visit the ASHRAE website for more information.

The Environmental Protection Agency is another good source for humidification information.

For proper and effective distribution of humidification a heated air stream is the most effective.

Consider all types before you buy a humidifier.

Bypass humidifiers or Fan-assisted powered humidifiers can work well if coupled with a furnace system. The bypass humidifier mounts on the return ducting and utilizes a duct connected to the supply duct for airflow through the unit to pick up the moisture. A fan assisted powered humidifier utilzes a small fan to blow air through a water pad into the furnace's air stream.

In a radiant heated home, the bypass and powered humidifier, described above are useless. For a radiant home a steam humidifier must be utilized. A Steam Humidifier creates steam inside the unit before distribution into the air stream. A steam humidifier can also be installed as a stand alone unit with a blower pack installed and ducted straight through a wall to humidify the desired space.

As with any mechanical equipment, a humidifier needs maintenance. The bypass and powered humidifiers have a water pad, which needs periodic replacement. Many steam humidifiers have a canister inside, which needs replacing annually.

Hard water is a problem for any humidifier, and leads to periodic cleaning of all components of any type of humidifier.

Any whole-house humidifier should be controlled by a humidistat. THe humidistat can be duct mounted in your mechanical room, wall mounted by your thermostat, or can even be an integral setting in your thermostat.

Depending on the size of your home, multiple units might be necessary to achieve comfortable humidity levels. Our Humidification page has more details about sizing your humidifier and recommended humidity levels.

Install and service your bypass humidifier

Install and service your powered fan-assisted humidifier

Install and service your steam humidifier

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