Do you find yourself too-well acquainted with a bottle of moisturizer every winter? And how about those cracks that you just noticed spidering from your window edges or through the crown molding?
As we turn the furnace up and humidity drops, dry air can have a series of unpleasant effects on us – and our homes. The solution isn’t to suffer in silence and simply accept it as part of these unpredictable New Jersey winters. And please skip the DIY advice to put bowls of water all over your home near vents!
There’s actually a far more effective solution, and one that can improve your quality of life and extend the life of your home, too. Whole house humidification will help relieve symptoms like dry nose and mouth, winter asthma and allergies, nosebleeds, and that miserably dry, itchy skin that is so common. It also provides a better environment for the preservation and longevity of hardwood floors, crown molding and wood furniture, and reduces uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous static electricity.
There are two types of whole house humidifiers, and depending on your needs you can choose the best one for you and your home. Here’s the basics about both, and if you have any questions about whether one of these can work for you, let us know.
Flow Through Humidification
This type of humidification system is installed on the outside of your heating and cooling system and is designed to maintain a comfortable humidity level throughout your home. It works by creating a consistent drip of water across a pad. As air passes through the pad, it picks up humidity to be redistributed as it exits your vents.
You’ve probably seen one of these at your local home improvement store. They’re relatively simple to install, fairly common and comparatively inexpensive. They’ll certainly be an improvement over no humidification, but they tend to be imprecise and don’t maintain a consistent level of humidity.
One of the biggest drawbacks, though, is that these humidifiers only work when the furnace is on. During off-times, the air is left to dry until the furnace kicks on again. Still, if you’re looking for a simple and inexpensive option, this is a good one.
This system is installed right into the ductwork in your home and will maintain a precise humidity at all times. Rather than relying on your furnace, a steam humidifier has an automatic sensor and will turn the fan – and itself – on whenever the humidity drops below your preset levels.
It is superior in performance to the flow through system and provides you with digitally accurate control. And it works on Wi-Fi, which means you can control humidity levels with your smart phone the same way you might control your thermostat.
It is, however, more expensive than its flow through cousin and requires skilled professional installation. On the plus side, it’s an excellent choice for precise, consistent and flexible humidity control, especially if you suffer from winter allergies or have valuable interior furnishings and structures to protect.
What You Need To Know Before Humidifying Your Home
Before you choose a system, it’s important to understand a few things about humidification. First, any humidification system must be maintained annually. Scaling, stagnant water and grime from general use can all negatively impact the efficiency of your system and even lead to worse conditions for your health, like mold and bacteria buildup.
Second, both styles of system must be sized to suit the square footage of your home. The wrong size can either provide too little or too much moisture, which leads to our final point, which is that the right humidification level is absolutely vital.
When humidity is too low, things like flu viruses can live longer, but set it too high and you’ll invite mold spores and bacteria. There’s a Goldilocks Zone you want to hit, and that’s at about 35% relative humidity.
The good news is that once you hit the zone, you can relieve many common winter-related ailments, save your home’s interior from excessive drying, and live a lot more comfortably. Plus, your system should last for a good 15 or 20 years, which is about the same expected lifespan of your HVAC system.
If you have any questions about humidifying your home, want to know more about the different types of systems or want to talk about improving your living conditions, let us know. We offer free consultations and all of our installations come with free multi-year maintenance contracts.