What is a Whole House Humidifier (And Why You Need One in Your Home)?

whole house humidifier

During the warm summer months, it is common to use a dehumidifier to bring the humidity levels down to a comfortable level. However, as the temperatures outside drop and heating systems are being used in full force, you might notice that the humidity level in your house has dropped a bit too much.

Low humidity levels can cause dry, cracked skin as well as respiratory issues including nosebleeds, dry throats, and aggravated asthma. Many homeowners employ the use of a humidifier during winter to help alleviate these problems. If you’re considering installing a whole house humidifier, an optional feature for your HVAC system, you may have questions about what it is and how it can benefit you.

What Is A Whole House Humidifier?

A whole house humidifier is a built-in system that manages the humidity level of your entire house. Once installed, most units cost only pennies to operate, varying of course by usage and how dry the winter heating season is.

Honeywell Powered Flow-Through Whole House Humidifier

An example of a Honeywell Powered Flow-Through Whole House Humidifier

Although everyone has their preferred level of humidity, most experts agree that a humidity level between 35-50% is ideal. This range helps prevent the growth of mold and mildew while keeping the air moist enough to prevent respiratory irritations or dry skin.

The Installation Process

Unlike a portable humidifier which is simply plugged into an outlet, the installation of a whole house humidifier is a bit more complex. Whole house humidifiers are installed in a way that they take advantage of the blower of your furnace and your water supply lines. What this means is that your humidifier system falls under the “install it and forget it” category (except for seasonal maintenance to clean the system at the end of winter to remove any mineral deposits. )

Whole House Humidifier versus a Portable Humidifier

Homeowners have two options for regulating the humidity levels during winter: a whole house humidifier and a portable humidifier. The main difference is that the whole house system is permanent while a portable machine is convenient and easily moveable from room to room (or house to house). Whole house humidifiers rely on the blower from your furnace while portable units rely on the availability of a standard electrical outlet.

whole home humidifier vs portable humidifier

  • Benefits of a whole house system: Other than the aforementioned seasonal cleaning of the whole house system, the whole house units require very little maintenance. The water tanks do not need to be refilled because the whole house system uses water directly from your plumbing lines. On the other hand, a portable unit must be inspected, cleaned, and refilled daily. Whole house units are much more effective in regulating the levels of the entire house (while a portable unit can affect 1 -2 rooms at most.)
  • Benefits of a portable humidifier: The biggest benefit is that a portable unit is convenient. It can be moved somewhat easily between rooms or between the office and home. These are also a good option for renters who do not have the ability or authorization to install a whole house humidifier.

Is a Whole House Humidifier Right For Your Home?

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