By Betty Stephens
When the air in the house is dry, a Steam Humidifier is the optimum solution. It heats water to produce steam, dispersing moistened air evenly throughout the house to make the air more comfortable. The humidifiers maintain optimal comfort during heating seasons by minimizing problems associated with dry air. It provides a more even temperature, reducing "cold bursts" of air. It comes with automatic controls to keep humidity precisely where you need it to be.
Types of Whole House Humidifiers
1. Drum - These are the least expensive and easy to install. They install on your cold air return line, and use a motor and belt to essentially lift cold water from a drum into the air and let evaporation and the passing air movement to pick up the moisture. These require considerable maintenance it has standing water and risk of mold due to the standing water. You have to replace the belt frequently.
2. Flow Through - These can be installed on return or supply line. These are the middle of the road in cost and performance. Again, they also use evaporation, but you do not have standing water. There is a filter that water flows through (drip) and the air blows through the filter. The water however, needs to be drained, and new water is always trickling though. Since it always uses new water, the risk of mold is almost none. Uses no electricity, but does require a water line and is always using new water.
3. Mist / Steam - The most expensive, but most effective. They actually produce steam, rather than relying on evaporation. Because of this, you can more easily control the desired humidity. Can come in cold and hot water forms, injecting hot or cold steam into your supply line. Requires both electricity and a water supply line. Risk of mold is low due to no standing water, but the hot steam could cause issue in your ducts if you run it too often and too high I imagine.
Evaporative humidifiers, also known as cool mist humidifiers are the most common. These add moisture to the air using a fan that blows air over a wet wick. The air collects the moisture and disperses it with a fan. Most evaporative humidifiers are used to add moisture to a larger area.
Whole house humidifiers, or consoles, are a great option for total home comfort. While evaporative humidifiers may be great for a larger area, they can also be a bit noisier than other types and can require humidifier chemicals and a filter change every few months to keep them running smoothly.
Warm mist humidifiers are the second most used type of home humidifier. These use a heating element to boil the water in the humidifier and release it into the air in the form of a warm steam. If you live in a cold climate, using a warm mist humidifier will help make the room feel warmer than it actually is (as opposed to a cool mist humidifier, which can have the opposite effect). Warm mist steam humidifiers are quieter than cool mist evaporative humidifiers, because they do not use a fan. These are great for personal humidifiers to add moisture to a smaller area.
Benefits of Humidifiers
With central heating, people are confined indoors with unnaturally dry air for many months each year. Humidifiers help to keep comfortable levels of moisture in the air, which is essential for your respiratory health.
Whole-house humidifiers work like old-fashioned room humidifiers: They put moisture into the air, making harsh, dry air easier to breathe. A major difference is that they improve the air in every room of your home no more carrying a humidifier from room to room in the winter.
Save Money on Heating Bills with Humidification
Keeping your home's humidity at ideal levels will also help you feel warmer. Low humidity makes the air feel colder because the warmer the air is, the more water it can hold; put another way, the more water in the air, the warmer the air feels. This phenomenon can be understood by considering how high levels of humidity in the summer make it feel hotter than it actually is: when the air is saturated with moisture, the sweat on our bodies does not evaporate, making us sticky and uncomfortable. But winter's low humidity has the opposite effect - dry air causes moisture to evaporate from our skin and we feel cooler.
Humidity levels in the home are an important component of relieving allergy and asthma systems through environmental control. Especially during the winter, when dry air tends to be more of a problem, asthma and allergy sufferers can greatly benefit from environmental control of indoor humidity levels. Humidifiers make this possible.
Maintaining the Humidifier
All humidifiers require regular cleaning to prevent the growth of mold, mildew, fungi, and bacteria. These organisms can thrive in the standing water that is left inside your humidifier for more than one day. Therefore, you should make sure to empty and refill your humidifier on a daily basis. Humidifier chemicals and filters are an essential part of keeping your home comfortable with these units.
The optimal humidity level in a house is generally 35 - 40 percent, anything above that can induce mold and may make your home feel damp. An easy way to tell if you have too much humidity in your home is to look at your windows. If there is moisture on the glass, cut back on your humidifier use. However, the benefits of using one are numerous, so be sure to keep a humidifier in mind this winter.