Now that the heat inside your home is on, maintaining ideal humidity may become a challenge this winter. When air is heated, it dries out and if there’s not enough humidity created by cooking or showering, the level drops indoors to uncomfortable and unhealthy levels. Dry air in the winter is a problem because it:
- supports the spread of bacteria and viruses
- irritates your skin and respiratory system
- creates static electricity that can be damaging to sensitive electronics
- shrinks wood in your home, including floors, cabinets, furniture and musical instruments
- lowers comfort
The easiest way to deal with these effects of low indoor humidity is to install a whole-house humidifier. In the summer, your air conditioner removes it on hot, humid days, but as the heating season goes forward, the air continues to dry out as it’s heated. If you have a forced-air heating system, you can install a whole-house system that works with your blower to send water vapor through your ducts when the furnace runs, maintaining ideal humidity and helping you increase your comfort without turning up the heat. Air with more humidity naturally feels warmer.
These systems have thermostats called humidistats. You can set the amount of humidity you want in the air, which should range from 45 percent when it’s 40 degrees outside and drop to 20 percent when it’s -10 degrees. Varying the amount based on outdoor temperature reduces the risk of humidity condensing on cold window glass or water pipes, both of which can cause mold or mildew.
Unlike portable humidifiers, a whole-house system needs less maintenance and never needs refilling. A water line runs from your home’s plumbing to the humidifier and a float inside it regulates the amount of water in the pan. It enters the pan slowly and doesn’t last long enough to become contaminated. In the spring when you shut the humidifier off, it’s a good idea to clean the system thoroughly.
If you’d like to learn more about maintaining ideal humidity with a whole-house humidifier, contact Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing. We provide services to Grand Traverse and surrounding counties.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Traverse City, Michigan and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about humidity and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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