How to buy a whole-house humidifier

family sitting on couch

Along with a chill, winter brings dry air, which your furnace circulates throughout your home. This may have you wondering about how to buy a whole-house humidifier.

A licensed HVAC technician can help you purchase and install awhole-home humidifier. Not only will these systems improve your comfort, but they can also extend the life of wood floors, musical instruments, and artwork.

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Types of whole-house humidifiers

Whole-home humidifiers disperse warm or cool vapor through either an evaporative or ultrasonic process. They add moisture to the air heated by your furnace to increase humidity in your home.

Evaporative humidifiers

Evaporative whole-house humidifiers pass warm air through an evaporator pad, which is a ceramic-coated pad saturated with water. The hot air absorbs the moisture and moves it through your home.

Evaporative humidifiers are powered by your furnace’s fan and are installed in your ductwork. An HVAC contractor will install one in your cold-air return where warm air from the furnace supplies the humidifier.

During summer, when your air conditioner is running, a damper in the bypass vent pipe closes off airflow through the furnace humidifier.

Evaporative humidifiers are typically more affordable but require regular filter replacements.

Steam humidifiers

A steam humidifier heats water in a canister and converts the water to steam, which the unit forces through your ductwork. Although these systems are installed in your ducts, many do not need to connect to your furnace.

These fan-powered models install directly on the warm-air plenum. They can also install on the cold-air plenum if connected to a source of hot water.

The built-in fan pushes the moisture from a steam humidifier into the outgoing flow of warm air for distribution through the home.

Whole-house humidifier capacity and compatibility

When choosing a humidifier, select a model that can provide enough moisture for your entire home. Approximately 12 gallons of water per day can humidify an area of up to 3,000 square feet. A heating and cooling contractor can use a humidity calculator for more precise sizing.

Many manufacturers offer humidifiers that are compatible with your specific furnace. Installation of a universal humidifier typically does not void a furnace’s warranty. However, you should review all warranty information or consult with an installation technician before installing a humidifier.

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Installation and maintenance of whole-house humidifiers

Some humidifiers are reversible, meaning they can be installed on the warm-air plenum or the cold-air duct. Many humidifiers must be connected to a drain. You may void the warranty if you attempt a DIY installation.

Humidifiers require routine maintenance. Otherwise, they may breed contaminants like mold.

For evaporative units, HVAC technicians advisereplacing the humidifier padannually, as prolonged use may reduce the pad’s ability to absorb water. If you have a steam humidifier, you should flush sediment from the tank annually.

Consult your owner’s manual to determine the ideal maintenance schedule for your system.

Whole-house humidifier price

According toHomeAdvisor, a whole-house humidifier costs $400-2,500. Installation costs $200-2,000.

How to buy a whole-house humidifier: the bottom line

A licensed HVAC technician can help you buy awhole-house humidifier. They will survey your home and suggest models that meet your family’s needs.

If you’re noticing dryness in your home this winter, contact one of our top-rated technicians for assistance.

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