Vapor from humidifier in the morning light in a living room

Should I Use My Whole-Home Humidifier Year-Round?

Calgary winters aren’t just cold: it’s a “dry” cold. Dry winter weather can impact your health and comfort and can also affect wood flooring and furniture in your home. It’s a big reason why so many Calgary households are equipped with a whole-home humidifier on the furnace. Unlike portable humidifiers that are designed for, say, a child’s bedroom, whole-home humidifiers add moisture to the air – which is then circulated throughout the entire living area.

30% to 50% relative humidity is optimal for today`s homes. The humidity level can be adjusted at your humidistat located either at your humidifier or near your thermostat. Your humidistat will then automatically add moisture you’re the air circulating in your house as needed to maintain your set humidity level.

The ambient air during summer in Calgary usually ranges from 30-50% so during summer most homes do not need to have the humidifier on.

Humidifiers will make you feel healthier and more comfortable

If you live in a low-humidity environment, you may experience issues such as dry, itchy, or flakey skin. You may notice a chronically scratchy throat. Your sinus passages may seem raw. In extreme cases, you may get nose bleeds and notice breathing difficulties. Your hair can feel damaged and frizzy.

In the winter, the hot air from your furnace further reduces moisture levels. Having a whole-home furnace humidifier installed, you can turn your home from dry to delightful. Homes with proper humidity levels feel far more comfortable than the same house but with low humidity. Having proper humidity control in your home contributes to a far more comfortable home throughout the winter months.

With a properly functioning whole-home humidifier, you’ll notice smoother, healthier skin and hair, and fewer wrinkles. A well-lubricated respiratory system can even help reduce snoring! It is also shown to reduce allergy and asthma symptoms.

Wood needs moisture too

Like the human body, wood tends to dry out when the humidity levels are too low. The National Wood Flooring Association estimates that 90% of wood flooring failures are related to relative humidity and moisture problems in the home. If your home is too dry (lower than 35% relative humidity), it can cause the wood to contract in the winter. This can result in squeaky flooring and gaps between floorboards. Boards may even curl at the ends. In laminate flooring, dry weather can cause the layers to separate. It’s a big reason why many flooring manufactures will require a whole-home humidifier in order for their warranty to be valid.

Expensive wood furniture or treasured antiques will also look better and last longer when you take care to maintain proper humidity levels.

Other advantages

Dry homes can increase the presence of static electricity. Besides causing your hair to stand up wildly and providing little shocks when you kiss a loved one on the cheek, static electricity can damage home electronics. With a whole-home humidifier: problem solved!

Also, using a whole-home humidifier can actually help reduce heating bills. It’s true. The drier the air, the cooler it feels. Those with humidified air can lower their thermostat by a degree or two without noticing the difference.

Choosing the right humidifier

Whole-home humidifiers are installed on the furnace plenum. There are several types of humidifiers to choose from. You will need to choose a model appropriate for the size of your home. Most will require a hookup to a hot water supply, and use moisturized filters. Some are built with their own independent fan unit to improve moist air circulation, while others rely on the furnace blower to do this.

It is always recommended that whole-home humidifiers be installed by a professional technician. It is recommended that a proper steel braided supply line and ball shut off valve are installed with your new humidifier. Many humidifiers come with saddle valves and plastic supply lines which have been known to fail over time leading to flooding in the basement. As humidifiers are hooked up to your main water supply, the last thing you want is your basement flooded due to a faulty hookup by an inexperienced installer.

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