Humidifier Equipment Information and Options



General Information

Central humidifiers can be a great equipment choice to add on to your HVAC system, but they can also be a finicky annoyance for a few simple reasons. Here we will help you navigate the basics and clarify what is needed for a humidification system to work better in the Mid-West. There is a full spectrum of how you will experience owning a humidifier. It can be the best thing since sliced bread, and leave you just loving the humidifier. We also find some customers who have abandoned the hope of ever using the one they have, thinking that it just doesn’t work. Then to the customer who forgets the even have one until it is rusted and falling off the duct work. It’s really not their fault- humidifiers just need a little TLC every year, and the chance to work properly with a good setup.

First, let’s start with the benefits of a good humidification system. Humidity acts as a natural moisturizing agent that can relieve dryness that can damage your home and even effect your health. Humidifiers fight dry air which absorbs moisture wherever it can find it. This means that during cold winter weather, dry air can start to pull moisture from the structure of your home. As your house dries out, you’ll notice that floors, particularly hardwood floors, will begin to creak more. Dry air can also pull moisture from the wood in the frame of your home, causing walls and door jambs to shift. This makes doors hard to open and close, and can cause gaps between ceilings and walls. These gaps can also form in windows that are made entirely of wood. This lets in cold winter air, thereby increasing the cost of your heating bill. Even further, as the air in your home becomes more dry, it can start to damage not only your home, but the things in it. Wood furniture can start to bend and even crack. Musical instruments can lose their shape and their tune. Even paper items such as books and artwork can become brittle, warped and wrinkled.

You may be prone to these health issues and other discomforts, like static electricity, when the air in your home is dry. This is especially common during winter months. For this reason, humidifiers are often used for relieving:

  • dry skin, cracked lips
  • sinus congestion/headache
  • dry throat, dry cough, irritated vocal cords
  • nose irritation, bloody noses

Second, let’s go over the pit falls we find of a regular humidification system. One of the main problem with humidifiers in the Mid-West is the effects of hard water on the equipment. Hard water causes mineral deposits which clog the water lines and valves easily. No matter what, hard water will be the main culprit of issues, even with a good setup.  Another common problem is the lack of maintenance annually. Hard water, paired with not doing maintenance is a recipe for a humidifier disaster. This is where humidifiers get finicky. Even a brand new humidifier will rarely survive making it through a second season of use without the proper TLC before being used again. Further more, even when a humidifier is serviced every year, they are still subject to failure because hard water will ultimately effect the valves. This is why the basic installation materials just don’t cut it in the Mid-West. This is where the humidification setup of the valve and control components come into play. We go over these 2 key components of a good installation in another section, so be sure to check that out too! There are many factors that come into play when trying to humidify your home. This why we have created humidifiers their very own 101 section here, to help homeowners understand why and how humidifiers can become more of a problem, than a benefit.

Central Humidifier Equipment Options

Central humidifiers are built directly into your home’s HVAC system and add humidity throughout the house. Generally speaking there are 3 different types of humidifiers that can be installed to a central HVAC system. (These are not portable or other individual in-room humidifiers)

  •  The traditional base options of the Fan Powered or Bypass Humidifiers, which are most commonly found in homes. Depending on the square footage and needs of your home there are different models and sizes available.  The main filter is called the Water Panel which needs changed annually, along with descaling and cleaning of the humidifier housing. Drain lines should be checked regularly and flushed when needed, which can be done by you in most cases or a professional. Always be sure to change the water panel once a year before use at minimum. Descaling and cleaning the interior of the housing as well. Some people like to clean and change the panel when they shut it down for summer, so it is ready to go the next season.
  •  The upgraded option of the “Steam Humidifier” which is more expensive, but performs better. Again, model and size options vary. Canister tank needs changed approximately every other year. The canister fills and empties itself through the operation cycle. Drain lines should be checked regularly, and flushed when needed which can be done by you in most cases, or a professional. Annual cleaning and descaling any areas with mineral build up is always a must as well.

No matter the humidifier type you choose, the same basic materials will come with the humidifier which are the saddle valve and humidi-stat control. These 2 basic components work well in many parts of the country that do not have such extreme temperature changes, like the Mid-West. The problem is most humidifiers in this part of the country just won’t make it long with these basic materials for installation. These 2 components can be easily upgraded to help increase the use of the humidifier system. Check out the Valve and Control topic next for more on this!