Clean, safe, whole-house humidifiers

It has been cold and the furnace has been running a lot. As the day gets started, you turn on the light and get a shock from the light switch. Ouch! Then as you comb your child’s hair, it won’t lie down because of the static electricity. Does anyone look good with their hair standing straight up from the top their head? Now, it’s time to feed the cat and dog. You pick up the bowl at the same time you reach down to pet your dog on the head. The shock you both get sends the dog whimpering into the next room. Gosh, the dog must think you are angry with him. Ok, time to turn the computer on. Yikes! The shock is so big that it actually ruins the monitor.

Welcome to a typical day in Metro Denver.

Did you know that the Sahara Desert has a relative humidity level of 25%? Did you also know that when your furnace is running most houses have less than 10% humidity? No wonder the wood floors are separating and the piano is constantly out of tune. Everyone in the house has: dry hands, dry chapped lips, parched throats and nasal passages, which can cause bloody noses, and no amount of lotion or water makes any difference. What can you do? It is time to research Humidifiers! But what is the right choice for your home, and your family?

A whole house humidifier is installed on the heating system. The humidity is delivered through the ductwork of your home. A safe humidifier drains off water regularly. A safe humidifier does not grow molds and bacteria or cause rust in the ductwork. Different style humidifiers put out differing levels of humidity. A reliable heating contractor will look at the heating system and help you select the appropriate model. Make sure that the contractor employs NATE Certified Technicians to do the installation for you. It may be worthwhile to replace your thermostat too. Use a contractor you trust as they will let you know what to install, why and how to use it. Here are the three basic types of humidifiers:

  1. Steam Humidifier – A steam humidifier must be wired to the electrical panel. It will heat the water to a boiling point. The steam rises into the ductwork as it does the motor of the furnace kicks on and the moisture is delivered through-out your home. This system does not rely on the furnace being “fired” to carry the moisture throughout your home. It can maintain the highest and most consistent level of humidity.
  2. Powered Humidifier - A powered humidifier must be installed above your furnace. The motor pulls heated air into the humidifier. The heated air crosses over a water laden panel. The air evaporates as much moisture as 120 degree air can carry. The water that is not evaporated is drained to the floor drain.
  3. By-Pass Humidifier – A by-pass system can be installed on either the return air or the supply side of the duct system. As the furnace is heating your home air travels through the by-pass. It crosses over a water laden panel and evaporates the water. Water not evaporated is drained off to the floor drain.

The steam humidifier is best maintained by a NATE Certified Technician. The powered and the by-pass have water panels that should be replaced yearly. The water panel can be replaced by the homeowner or as part of the annual furnace maintenance. Before you decide which humidifier you want, please talk to your heating contractor. Not all models will fit on all furnaces.

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