Have you had it with the dry air this time of year? There’s the discomfort that comes from dry skin and cracked nails. And isn’t your hair bad enough from wearing hats and running around in the snow and wind? Yet dry, flyaway hair persists even indoors due to the bone-dry air in your home.
If you’re reading this, you already realize that it’s time to start looking at humidification systems for your home. Yet you may not realize the full extent of the problem. There are even more annoying winter issues (such as increased risk of COVID transmission) that are also caused by low relative humidity.
In winter when your furnace is running around the clock, humidity levels can drop to 10 percent or lower. (For the best comfort conditions and healthy air, you typically want humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent.) Here’s what happens when humidity levels drop below the recommended range.
Static electricity. During cold months, do you experience painful shocks every time you touch something metal? That happens because of an electrical imbalance between your body and your surroundings, which is greatly intensified when the air’s relative humidity is too low. Humidification systems reduce that imbalance by adding moisture.
Damage to home furnishings. When there is not enough moisture in the air, furniture, paintings, floors and woodwork can dry out and crack. Humidification systems create air quality conditions that take better care of your valuable things. Especially if you travel in the winter and may not be around to notice it happening until it’s too late.
Respiratory problems. Being stuck indoors is not the only reason you and your family are more susceptible to colds in the winter. Dry air can help multiply and spread the bacteria and viruses that cause respiratory infections. The problem is even more dangerous for those with asthma and other breathing difficulties. Humidification systems help keep your family healthier.
Related article: 5 Reasons You Need Humidification In Your Luxury Residence
Increased risk of COVID (and other virus) transmission. Viruses thrive in low humidity conditions. They stay viable longer and can stay in the air for longer periods. That’s why experts recommend optimizing humidity levels in your home to reduce your risk. [Get out guide to learn more about HVAC strategies for preventing COVID.]
Central humidification systems are a simple solution to address these problems. These units use water and the heat from your furnace to generate humidity, and circulate it along with warmed air through the building via your air ducts. The solution is simple, that is, once the right system is up and running. Here are four common mistakes with humidification systems homeowners and installers make that can negate the benefits.
4 mistakes to avoid with home humidification systems
1. Getting the size wrong
Many times, contractors make the mistake of installing humidification systems that are inadequately sized for the space and usage. There are many factors that need to be taken into account when sizing home humidification systems, including the design of your space, square footage, materials used to construct it, how well it is insulated, and the type of heating system. Not to mention the use of additional heating sources like fireplaces, which can be extremely drying.
Humidification systems, unlike air conditioning equipment, are one part of an HVAC system that should be oversized to satisfy not only the current conditions but also to allow for future modifications. They do not consume large amounts of energy, nor do they experience poor operation due to being oversized for the space. So when in doubt, go larger.
2. Choosing the wrong type of humidification system
There are several effective types of humidification systems on the market, including flow-through units and mist or steam units. Different designs work best under certain conditions. That’s why it’s important to consider things like the hardness (mineral content) of your water when choosing humidification systems, as well as the type of heating system you have.
For example, if you have hard water, you want to avoid spray humidification systems, which can get clogged more easily with mineral deposits. If you have a heat pump system that provides both heat and air conditioning for your home, you must look at humidification systems that work well under lower temperature conditions.
Sorting out all the types of humidification equipment can be challenging when you’re not an HVAC expert, so be sure to consult with an HVAC company that is experienced and knowledgeable about home humidification systems.
3. Installing the humidification system incorrectly
There are three common mistakes with installation humidification systems:
Installing in a hard-to-reach location. This mistake just about guarantees neglected maintenance of humidification systems (see Mistake #4). Some installers incorrectly assume that humidification systems should not be installed on the return side for fear of losing humidification in the furnace (which is not an issue since all surfaces are warm so no humidity is lost). Or they try to place an under-duct type system in the trunk line going to the bedrooms when that’s a harder to reach spot.
Wiring humidification systems so they can only run when the furnace runs. You want humidification systems to operate whenever needed, not only when the furnace is running. Make sure the system can be independently controlled.
Failing to integrate with smart home automation systems. If you have invested in a smart thermostat or an entire home automation system, there are humidification systems that can integrate with your existing controls. Your installer should be able to help you set this up.
Even when your contractor is experienced with humidification systems, it’s important that they follow manufacturer’s installation instructions. There can be variations between different brands and different types.
4. Neglecting maintenance
Make sure your installer shows you where your humidifier is installed, and where the water shut-off switch is located in case you should ever experience a water leak.
Humidification systems don’t need very much upkeep on your part. However, it’s important to have your system periodically cleaned and serviced, ideally at the same time as your regular HVAC preventative maintenance. If that’s neglected, you can end up with a contaminated system spreading mold and mildew throughout your home.
Don’t have an HVAC maintenance contract yet? If you’re thinking about humidification systems, now is a great time to think about that as well. You’ll get the best maintenance prices, a trusted service company that’s familiar with your equipment, and priority repair service in an emergency.
If you’re in the New York City area, schedule a consultation with Arista to discuss a plan that works for your needs.