Share This Guide
As the weather gets colder, the air becomes drier and unsafe for your health and property. You’ll need a humidifier to restore a comfortable moisture level in your home. A whole house humidifier is an advanced way of increasing household humidity in large areas, and it has pros and cons that we shall look at.
Although most households will opt for small, inexpensive portable humidifiers that only supply moisture in a small area like a single room, there is a disadvantage of failing to meet humidity requirements for a large family or home more than 2500 square feet.
The whole house humidifier attaches to the home’s HVAC system and provides a constant flow of moisture to every room in the house. This not only gives all family member a chance to enjoy cool, humid air but also protect wooden furniture, floors, and fixtures in your home against warping due to drier air.
The installation of whole-house humidifiers isn’t usually a DIY job. They are installed on your ductwork, next to your furnace or indoor air handler. This can be somewhere before or after the furnace filter. This is why you need an HVAC expert to do the installation.
Whole House Humidifier Pros and Cons
Considering having a whole house humidifier installed in your home, you must know its benefits and concerns. As an HVAC expert, I have done several inspections on many humidifiers in my region, and below is what I have for you.
Whole House Humidifier Pros
By installing a whole house HVAC humidifier, you enjoy the following benefits:
1. Automatic humidity control
Whole house humidifiers automatically control indoor humidity levels within a comfortable range. When it gets cold outside, and the heating furnace is turned on, your central humidifier will start to pump out moisture to the relative humidity level, usually 35%-45%.
Studies by Stanford – US-based teaching and research university, have shown that indoor humidity above 50% may encourage the growth of biological organisms in the home, including mold and bacteria. This is something not to worry about when using a central humidifier.
The model is equipped with a humidity Sensor (humidistat) that measures the chamber’s relative humidity. When the set point of humidity level is reached, the controller will turn off the pump. This will create an automatic on and off pump cycle, which will maintain humidity within the recommended safe range.
2. High quality indoor air
There are more health benefits you obtain from properly humidified indoor air. According to Mayo Clinic, an adequate moisture level of 35%-45% reduces allergies and respiratory conditions. You will no longer be dealing with issues like dry skin, chapped lips, sore throats, and other sinus irritations.
Another research by Yale has also pointed out that flu is more prevalent when the air is dry. This is the reason why cases spike in the cold months of winter. Therefore a whole house humidifier can help combat outbreaks of flu and other viral infection of respiratory passages.
Just as a low amount of moisture in the air harms your health, it is also a concern when in excess. Without humidistat controls, a portable humidifier may lead to high humidity levels in a room which puts your health at risk. You may experience burnout, difficult breathing, and lethargy.
3. Property preservation
Both dry air and excess moisture in the air are not friendly to your property. Dry air draws moisture from wood in an uneven manner which causes it to warp. This is why in winter when there is little moisture in the air, your wooden furniture, floors and fixtures will start cracking. This is something you won’t witness when you have a whole house humidifier.
Most portable humidifiers do not have humidity auto-control features. If left running, they will supply excess moisture in the room. This can cause significant damage to the walls, floors, ceiling, and furniture. There is also a potential for the growth of mold and mildew. Check why 70% humidity in the house is bad.
4. Low Maintenance needs
HVAC inline whole humidifiers have almost no maintenance requirements except for ducted humidifiers that need yearly change of evaporator panel filter and a clean-up to remove mineral deposits in the system.
Further, central humidifiers are directly linked to a plumbing line, and no water refill is required. Whole house humidifiers, therefore, give peace of mind to enjoy your indoor climate without worries.
Portable home humidifiers, on the other hand, require regular maintenance that includes biweekly cleaning and the addition of an anti-microbial agent to their tank. Due to their relatively small tanks, you will have to keep topping up water depending on how you use it.
5. Esthetically presentable
Whole house humidifiers are usually installed in a home’s HVAC system, making it impossible to notice them visually. Further, they operate quietly, something that makes you enjoy your indoors without noise disturbances usually witnessed with most portable humidifiers.
6. Home value addition
Due to the many benefits of a whole house humidifier, you get the increased value of your home when you install it. Homes with centrally installed and controlled humidifiers attract high market value as compared to those without or rather ones with portable units.
Whole House Humidifier Cons
Central HVAC humidifier sounds like what everyone wants in their homes. Before you fully decide, get to know what’s on the other side of the coin. The following are disadvantages of a whole house humidifier:
1. High purchase and installation costs
The cost of purchasing and installing a whole house humidifier is higher than portable models. Typically the cost ranges from $300 to $1,500, depending on the quality and type of the humidifier you settle for. High costs are also attributed to the professional installation by an HVAC expert.
Portable home humidifiers are generally less expensive since they don’t have to be attached to the HVAC system. After purchase, you will simply assemble it, fill the basin with water, and plug it in to start enjoying the humid air.
2. Mold and mildew in HVAC system
A whole house humidifier has been linked to the growth of mold and mildew in the HVAC systems. They produce a significant amount of moisture that combines with dust in the system to attract the growth of mold and mildew. Mold can cause severe respiratory allergies when inhaled.
This means that you should regularly clean your HVAC system and replace clogged air filters promptly. We can’t define how often to service your HVAC system, but you should keep an eye on everything and always get prepared to deal with the growth of mold and mildew in the system.
We have seen that a whole-house humidifier has many benefits that by far outweigh the drawbacks. It is, therefore, appropriate to install this kind of humidifier in your home if you can afford it. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the use, maintenance, and replacement of any materials supplied with the humidifier.
HVAC tech with over 30 years of experience. Retired and doing repair work on the side around Madison County, AL.