Paul, Debbie and their two children recently moved from Toronto to Calgary. Debbie’s company offered her an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. With the mountains so close, Calgary seemed like a great place to raise their kids.
But the clincher? They could buy a spacious, modern detached home without spending a small fortune. Something that would be unthinkable in Toronto.
Their home had everything they wanted. According to their house inspector, the only thing missing was a furnace humidifier. It was not something they’d ever seen in Ontario, so they just shrugged.
It didn’t take long for the family to realize just how much dryer Calgary’s climate was compared to Ontario’s. Their inspector knew his stuff.
How low humidity affects your body.
Moving from a humid location to the dry climate of Alberta can be an unexpected shock to the system.
“I’ve never bought so much hand cream and moisturizer in my life,” Debbie laughed, recalling their first years in their new home. Her skin constantly felt dry and itchy. Her hair was static-y and seemed to have a mind of its own. And to her surprise, she started to notice tiny dandruff flakes on her husband’s shoulders.
“What was going on?” Debbie wondered.
Low moisture impact your home too.
Paul connected the dots when he noticed his acoustic guitar seemed to go out of tune quicker than usual. At a local jam session, one of the host musicians showed him a little humidifier device designed to sit in the guitar case to protect the instrument.
It made him think, “If a guitar needs a humidifier, it’s probably a good idea for our home.”
Furnace humidifiers are strongly recommended in homes with hardwood or laminate flooring. The moisture can reduce cracking and splintering. It can also prevent the wood from contracting and expanding, which can cause alignment or warping issues in extreme cases.
The same goes with wooden furniture (especially antiques like Debbie’s display cabinet, a precious family heirloom). Extremely dry air can cause cracks to form along faulty joints. Much like your skin, lack of humidity can also be hard on leather chairs and sofas.
A whole-home humidifier situated near the furnace adds moisture to the air and distributes it throughout the home via the ducts and vents.
Furnace humidifiers are an easy and inexpensive add-on.
At first, Debbie and Paul had bought a small portable humidifier for the kids’ room. It helped, but they found the disinfecting routine was a bit much and eventually stopped using it.
Two years after moving in, they had their furnace and ducts cleaned. They asked the technician from Advanpro what it would cost to have a humidifier installed. The couple was surprised to learn that the price was around $550, including installation. Advanpro was able to do it on the spot. As a bonus, they saved some money by bundling it as part of the duct and furnace cleaning appointment.
The two standard humidifier categories.
There are types of furnace humidifiers.
- Evaporative (bypass and fan) Humidifiers: These are economical and energy-efficient humidifiers. With Bypass humidifiers, warm air from the furnace blows over a wet filter (or pad) in the humidifier. The moist air is then distributed throughout the ducts. A fan humidifier uses a fan to draw warm air into the humidifier, where a pad absorbs moisture. This air is then dispersed through the ducts.
When properly maintained, bypass-style humidifiers will have no problem maintaining desired humidity levels in most Calgary homes.
- Steam Humidifier: These humidifiers heat water to create steam, which is distributed through the vents. This type of humidifier can be effective in very large homes. The downside is that they are quite a bit more expensive and less energy efficient. Also, steam humidifiers are not ideal in cities like Calgary with hard-water issues. Over time, mineral deposits can accumulate inside and cause the unit to clog and stop working.
Paul and Debbie chose a bypass humidifier. They liked that it was low maintenance and appreciated learning that it was better suited to hard water.
Installation that goes over and above
To create humidity, furnace humidifiers are tied into your water lines. Over time, there is an increased risk of leaking. The main culprit is the plastic water supply line that comes with most kits. These have been known to fail. If this happens, it can cause basement flooding.
Advanpro always installs new humidifiers with a properly plumbed-in ball valve shut off to prevent this. We also upgrade the plastic water line with a more durable solution: either a braided steel water supply line or a ¼” copper supply line with saddle valves.
Knowing this made Paul and Debbie feel safer. They also valued the extra care the Advanpro installer took to test the humidifier and ensure it was operating properly before leaving.
Leave the humidifier pad replacement to a pro!
Furnace humidifiers require minimal annual maintenance. This involves replacing the pad, usually on an annual basis.
While the pad seems easy to replace, Advanpro technicians have run into many cases where a homeowner tried doing it themselves… without knowing how to inspect and clean the drain line as part of the process. This is a key step. Mineral buildup can clog the line and prevent it from draining.
Also, installing the replacement pad incorrectly (or choosing the wrong pad) can cause the humidifier not to drain properly. It can also direct water into the furnace. This can damage the inner workings of the furnace – or worse, it can flood your basement!
Since he keeps his guitar in the basement, Paul feels it is not worth the risk. He’s been more than happy to book a pad replacement as part of his annual furnace tune-up service.
Inspecting an existing humidifier
In homes with a humidifier that is not working properly, an Advanpro technician can perform an inspection and provide a quote to repair the unit.
You would be shocked by how many people wrongly assume an existing humidifier is either undersized or is the ‘wrong style’ for their home. They think they need a replacement – when all that’s required is a simple repair.
A noticeable improvement
Did their furnace humidifier make a difference? Debbie said they could feel the change within days. The bounce is back in Debbie’s curls. As for Paul, his guitar has never sounded better.