Can A Humidifier Benefit
Your Home and Your Health?

During the cold winter months, Albertans face dry, cold air outdoors and dry, heated air indoors. All this dry air pulls the moisture from both your home and your body.

When the humidity gets too low in your home, you may get shocked when you touch a metal doorknob or hear floors squeaking and squealing as you walk over them. Low relative humidity can contribute to the build-up of static electricity. While a shock from static electricity can be startling, it can be powerful enough to damage your electronic gadgets and burn out computer components. Low humidity also shrinks wood. Hardwood floors, paneling and molding can warp and crack.

Support beams, posts, and joists can shrink and move out of position. Furniture, including antiques and family heirlooms, can be damaged and their value ruined by dry air. You can easily feel when indoor humidity falls below 30%. Your nasal passages and sinus dry-out quickly and become irritated. This can make you susceptible to colds and even sinus infections. During winter weather, people tend not to feel thirsty, so you might not be drinking as much water as normal. You may not notice it but dry air is constantly drawing moisture from your body. Usually, your skin becomes dry, itchy, and painful. If you are having trouble concentrating or are having headaches, you may be suffering from chronic low-level dehydration. Chronic winter time dehydration can reduce your productivity with fatigue, mind fog, and joint pain.

Moisturize Your Home

Keeping your home's relative humidity between 30% and 50% will relieve these problems. The key factors, however, lie in producing enough moist air to raise the humidity of your home, keeping that moisture-laden air circulating, and maintaining the humidity at the desired comfort level. Inexpensive portable humidifiers do a fine job for a single room because they are designed to work in a limited area. They also need frequent refilling and cleaning. However, unless your heating ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) can efficiently pull humidified air from one room of your home and circulate it throughout, then it's a safe bet that most of the humidity will remain in one area. Relying on portable humidifiers also runs the risk of pumping too much moisture into the air. Without some sort of self-regulation, there can be problems with condensation build up and the growth of harmful mildew or mold.

A whole-house bypass humidifier, however, works with your HVAC system to effectively circulate humidified air throughout your entire home. Installing a bypass humidifier requires cutting a hole in the HVAC system's return air duct. The humidifier is fitted over the hole. The housing holds a wicking pad over the hole (some humidifiers use misting or ultrasonic spray here). A small water line taps the plumbing system to moisten the pad. Water flow is regulated by a low-voltage electronic valve and a humidistat maintains the relative humidity according to the user's control settings. Lastly, a short air duct from the supply side (near or at the plenum) brings warmed air into the humidifier. The warmed air flows through the pad and into the return duct, carrying the moisture throughout the home.

A whole-house bypass humidifier never needs to be refilled. Its connection to your home's plumbing allows it to evaporate as much as 12 to 17 gallons of water per day. It works automatically around the clock to keep your home's humidity set at just the right level for comfort and health.Humidifiers can help you save on your energy bill, too. Because moist air holds more heat than dry air, it feels warmer against your skin. Your home will feel warmer, allowing you to turn the thermostat down one or two degrees without reducing that comfort level. Reducing your thermostat by 1 degree over 8 hours saves %1 on your heating bills

Humidifiers also should be inspected and cleaned every year to remove limescale or other deposits that can accumulate and cause clogs or leaks. Wicking media, as well as nozzles and valves, may also need de-scaled or replaced to ensure the humidifier works correctly. The best time for this is in autumn when you have a professional furnace maintenance visit by Direct Energy.