Based on my recent stack of emails and calls surrounding the mystery that is a humidifier I thought it fitting to play “Myth Busters” and shed some light on the situation. Apparently there is great mystery and misconception surrounding humidifiers and de-humidifiers. Lets start at the beginning and move our way through it so that you can be an expert when it comes to your homes humidification.
At the most basic of levels humidifiers are attached to a furnace and add humidity during the winter months. This humidity cuts down on static shocks, helps eliminate dry and runny noses, can improve your indoor air quality, and makes your house feel warmer. Although they are not code in this area they are a fantastic idea.
De-humidifiers are typically run in basements during summer months and drain into a floor drain or need to be emptied periodically. In our climate they help to remove dampness and the mustiness of basements.
Humidifiers need to be looked at once a year to replace the pad, and ensure proper water flow. Most houses in this area are on well or have very hard water. This hard water can reek havoc on the water lines for the humidifier. Neglect of humidifiers is the number one cause of their demise. By simply taking care of them yearly you can avoid the nightmare stories and water issues that can occur.
A great way to ensure your hard wood floors do not start to spilt, or hardwood furniture does not start to deteriorate is by adding the right amount of humidity. Homes with lots of hard wood or that run their fireplaces a lot tend to suffer if their humidifier is not operating properly.
How they work is by taking water from your homes water line and running that water across a pad. A fan blows across the pad and humidifies the air stream as there is a call for heat. Typically you want the humidifier set at 35-40% humidity. Depending on the construction of the house you may need to add more or less humidity.
The best indicator on humidity levels is actually your windows. If you notice water or dew building up along the bottom of the window you can turn the humidity dial back down. You can even turn the thermostat down a couple more degrees that you would think. Humidity makes the air feel warmer, and lets you set the thermostat back a few degrees. Everyone home and situation is different but and ideal system could run at 68* and feel like 70*.
Some of the best stories I hear are how happy people are after they add a humidifier. Especially the people who had great old practices for trying to add humidity. Some people would simply keep a gold fish bowl in the kitchen and hope the evaporation would do the trick. Other people would even leave a small Tupperware of water next to the floor vents and hope there was a moisture transfer. Know what I have learned these stories are great for a good chuckle. The homeowners who had these rituals always get the last laugh now!