When To Install A Whole-Home Humidifier

People across the country suffer from dry air during the months of winter. Some people even find themselves suffering from chronically dry skin and irritated sinuses, especially those with nasal allergies like hay fever. While many people will try to combat this by using humidifiers in their bedrooms and living rooms, a whole-home humidifier can be installed to put more moisture in the air throughout the house.

Experts agree that there are three main areas of dryness in your home. The first is caused by heat, which is why you'll see many people using humidifiers to help ease the symptoms of colds and allergies. Another area is high-efficiency heating equipment, which does not release any water vapor into the air, but is still using energy to heat the air in your home. The last area that is dry in your home is the one that most affects your sinuses—heating and cooling ducts. Since most heating systems (forced-air furnaces) are located in basements or attics, they pull large amounts of dry air through the ducts. Since ducts are located throughout your home, this can be a huge problem.

A whole-home humidifier works like an HVAC system in reverse. Instead of using electricity to cool the air or heat it up, it uses water vapor that is delivered via small tubing into the HVAC system's fan unit (which blows air through the ducts). According to a study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the average American household spends about six hours per day in an enclosed space with no humidity. This can lead to sinus problems and even dry skin. However, after running a humidifier for just 30 minutes daily, many people feel relief from dryness almost immediately.

In order to install a whole-home humidifier, you'll need to have a system with a permanent drain or one that can easily be drained. You will also need an electrical connection and access to the heating and cooling air ducts throughout your home as well as the necessary knowledge on how to connect those ducts. If you don't have any experience in this area, it would be a good idea to hire a professional.

Whole-home humidifiers can cost anywhere from $10 for a traditional evaporation humidifier (that simply boils water and runs the vapor through your air ducts) to $3,000 or more for an electronic ultrasonic model. If you have a particularly large home or one that has multiple levels, expect to pay around $1,500 for a humidification system.

Whole-home humidifiers are best used in homes where the heat is only on during the harsh winter months and homeowners use portable space heaters during other seasons to keep warm. Humidifiers can also help ease allergy symptoms and prevent respiratory infections.

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