Is a whole house humidifier a bad idea and should you just avoid it altogether and get a couple of portable humidifiers?
Well, that is what we will try to figure out in this article. Some time in the past, we looked at the whole house humidifier pros and cons.
In that post, we said that this is a good idea for humidifying your indoor space in winter. Unlike some of the portable humidifiers that cause humidifier white dust, this one does not.
However, as it turns out, in some cases, a whole house humidifier might be a bad idea, as might also a whole house dehumidifier, which can help remove excess moisture in the summer.
So, is a whole house humidifier a bad idea? It can increase the moisture level in your ducts and rooms. This could cause mold, which would then spread to the rest of the house. The mold problems usually occur when you don’t know the right humidity level to set.
Reasons why whole house humidifiers can be a bad idea
Not to misinterpret this post, these humidifiers are a great investment for any home with a HVAC system. It takes the work of setting humidity levels on a portable humidifier off your hands.
However, everything has its flip side. This humidifying unit is not any different. Here are some reasons why it can be a bad idea:
1. It can be painfully expensive to install and maintain
Whole house systems are expensive to buy, install and maintain. However, if you have a relatively new house, chances are that it has a HVAC humidifier, dehumidifier and perhaps even an air purifier.
You can always tell whether your HVAC system has a humidifier. A small box with a small hosepipe attached indicates there is a furnace humidifier.
If you are not sure, you could ask the HVAC technician when they come over for furnace checks and repairs.
If there isn’t one, you can always have one installed. However, it is going to cost you a good amount of money. Depending on the model that you get, a furnace humidifier can cost $400 to more than $1500.
In the due working of the humidifier, it will require care and maintenance. This comes in the form of replacing the evaporator pad, filters, solenoid valves and other parts that may break down.
2. Whole house humidifier dangers – Raise humidity too high
There can be serious consequences if you do not know the right humidity level to set for winter, ending up setting it too high.
This will certainly cause mold and mildew in the house. Consequently, this could bring about various health issues.
Mold can cause a lot of harm to your clothes, leather items, walls, ceilings, books and literally everything else that it can attach itself to.
However, the most serious danger is to your health and that of your children. It can trigger asthma attacks in people suffering from the condition.
It can also trigger allergies in children and the elderly. These two groups of people are vulnerable because of their weak immune system.
In winter, most people spend the biggest chunk of their time in indoor spaces. This is why we need the right heat and humidity levels.
In summer, the recommended humidity level is 30 to 50%. However, in winter, you might want to keep it between 35 and 45%.
If you experience a musty smell in your house, that could be coming from the mold in the ducts.
3. The whole house humidifier is susceptible to failure
The whole home humidifier is susceptible to failure, in which case it is not going to raise the humidity level.
Some of these failures such as the solenoid valve failing to open means that the humidifier won’t be getting enough water.
If there is no water getting inside the supply side of the solenoid valve, well, it means the humidifier is not getting water. Therefore, it cannot increase the humidity level in your home.
Of course, the solenoid valve could be broken down, in which case it would need to be replaced. It is recommended to let a technician do the whole house repair and maintenance jobs for you.
4. It can develop mineral buildup in the water line
Just like the normal portable humidifier, well, even this one can develop mineral buildup in the water system. This depends on the type of water you have at home.
A whole house unit is connected to the water supply in your home. Now, we know that tap water is not good for humidifiers, unless you can soften it.
Over time, scale starts to develop in the supply line that takes water to the humidifier. If the scale build-up in the water supply line, the unit will not get enough to raise the humidity level in your home. Therefore, you might experience dry air despite having a whole home humidifier.
5. It develops problems in the airflow system or evaporator pad
Again, like a regular humidifier, even a whole house one has filters that need cleaning or replacing when the time is due.
If the filters get too dirty, the full house humidifier unit might fail to work. That means you experience dry air in your rooms and you would suffer the symptoms of sleeping in a dry room.
Some of the whole house units come with evaporator pads. An evaporator pad is like the bridge through which the water or mist must pass to get to the air. It will be supplied through the air into the house, to increase the humidity.
If the evaporator pad has problems such as clogging, it will not work as needed. In that case, it must be changed.
If you check with the manufacturer of your evaporator pads, you can find out when it is due for changing. Some should be changed in six months while others can go for 12 months.
Mineral build up is very common on these pads. If that happens too soon, put the pad in a basin containing vinegar, to break the minerals down. If that does not help, replace it.
What should my whole house humidifier be set at?
During winter, you are more likely to use a humidifier than a dehumidifier. The temperatures take a dip. Now, there is a relationship between humidity and temperature. Warmer air holds more moisture.
Colder air is likely to hold minimum humidity. In this case, you might ask: what is the best whole house humidifier humidity setting for winter?
Generally, it is recommended to keep the humidity level in winter at 30 to 45 percent. However, those are very general terms!
Specifically, the humidity level that you set for your bedroom, for your entire house in winter should depend on the outdoor temperature.
If the temperature is -10 degrees, set the humidity at 20 percent. In some places, you might actually need to set the humidistat at 30 to 50 or even 55 percent. You should never let the humidity level go above 55 percent to prevent mold.
If the outdoor temperature is 0 degrees, set the humidity level at 25 percent and as the outdoor temperature increases, raise the humidistat setting too, but never above 55 percent.
Different places experience different types of weather in winter. Some are really cold, you know like Canada, the UK and some are fairly lenient such as Florida in the USA.
If you do not know what humidity level to set your humidistat at, you can ask the company that installed the furnace humidifier.
Final Thoughts: Are HVAC humidifiers worth it?
Is whole house humidifier a bad idea? Well, the downsides we have pointed out here might lead you to think so. However, having this unit is still a good idea for your home.
Full house units are more cost efficient in the long run and they do a good job of keeping the right humidity levels. They come with built-in humidistat so the humidifier kicks into action when the humidity level dips.
Also, you don’t have to worry about the humidifier tank running out of water, since it is supplied by a hose pipe, from the main water line.
All you need to do when you have a furnace humidifier is ensure regular expert maintenance, change of evaporator pads and filters.