The process of adding moisture to the air—is one of the most important aspects of total indoor comfort, yet it’s one of the least understood. Maybe this is because people associate humidity with the discomfort of hot, steamy summer days. And it’s true that too much humidity causes problems. Yet when properly controlled, humidity offers many proven benefits to your health, home and comfort. Using an Aprilaire Whole-Home Humidifier is one of the most effective ways to add the proper amount of humidity to your indoor air and prevent the problems caused by dry air.
REDUCTION OF RELATIVE HUMIDITY CAUSES DRY AIR
This problem is especially prevalent during the winter heating season. This is because the relative humidity (RH) of the cold, outdoor air drops significantly when brought into your home and heated. Learn more about how relative humidity works.
DRY AIR CAN DAMAGE YOUR FAMILY’S HEALTH AND HOME
Physicians and other experts often recommend humidity control to prevent the damaging effects of dry air caused by low relative humidity.
Low humidity can increase your likelihood of getting colds, flu and other upper respiratory ailments. Viruses that cause colds and flu thrive in low humidity. And, according to The American Society of Otolaryngology, dry air can make people more susceptible to infection. In addition, drier air can aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms.
Low humidity can cause home damage. It causes walls, woodwork, and your beautiful hardwood floors to crack. Electronics can fall victim to static electric charges, requiring expensive repair or replacement.
Low humidity can cause higher energy costs. Low humidity can make you feel too cold at normal temperatures leading you to turn up the thermostat. This leads to higher energy bills.
A humidifier is a device that increases humidity (moisture) in a single room or an entire building. In the home, point-of-use humidifiers are commonly used to humidify a single room, while whole-house or furnace humidifiers, which connect to a home’s HVAC system, provide humidity to the entire house. Medical ventilators often include humidifiers for increased patient comfort. Large humidifiers are used in commercial, institutional, or industrial contexts, often as part of a larger HVAC system.
LOW HUMIDITY PROBLEMS
Excessively low dry desert climates, or indoors humidity may occur in hot, in artificially heated spaces. In winter, when cold outside air is heated indoors, the humidity may drop as low as 10-20%. This low humidity can cause adverse health effects, by drying out mucous membranes such as the lining of the nose and throat, and can cause respiratory distress. The low humidity also can affect wooden furniture, causing shrinkage and loose joints or cracking of pieces. Books, papers, and artworks may shrink or warp and become brittle in very low humidity.
In addition, static electricity may become a problem in conditions of low humidity, destroying semiconductor devices and causing annoying static cling of textiles, and causing dust and small particles to stick stubbornly to electrically charged surfaces.
Industrial humidifiers are used when a specific humidity level must be maintained to prevent static electricity buildup, preserve material properties, and ensure a comfortable and healthy environment for workers or residents.
Static problems are prevalent in industries such as packaging, printing, paper, plastics, textiles, electronics, automotive manufacturing and pharmaceuticals. Friction can produce static buildup and sparks when humidity is below 45% relative humidity (RH). Between 45% and 55% RH, static builds up at reduced levels, while humidity above 55% RH ensures that static will never build up. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has traditionally recommended a range of 45–55% RH in data centers to prevent sparks that can damage IT equipment. Humidifiers are also used by manufacturers of semiconductors and in hospital operating rooms.
Printers and paper manufacturers use humidifiers to prevent shrinkage and paper curl. Humidifiers are needed in cold storage rooms to preserve the freshness of food against the dryness caused by cold temperatures. Art museums use humidifiers to protect sensitive works of art, especially in exhibition galleries, where they combat the dryness caused by heating for the comfort of visitors during winter.
}For buildings with a forced-air furnace, a humidifier may be installed into the furnace. They can also protect wooden objects, antiques and other furnishings which may be sensitive to damage from overly dry air. In colder months, they may provide modest energy savings, since humidity increases; occupants may feel warm at a lower temperature. Bypass humidifiers are connected between the heated and cold air return ducts, using the pressure difference between these ducts to cause some heated air to make a bypass through the humidifier and return to the furnace. The humidifier should usually be disabled during the summer months if air conditioning is used; air conditioners partially function by reducing indoor humidity.
This ensures that you have a working and clean air filter that is suitable for your exiting system. Although you are able to change your filter yourself (and you should!), your HVAC contractor might point out a better filter or filtration system that you should be using.
A whole-house humidifier (which can also be thought of as a “central humidifier”) is connected to the home’s hot air ducts and cold air return. It can either work with or independent from the heating/cooling system. When the humidifier is switched on, water accumulates inside of a collection tray. The air passing through the heating/cooling ducts will then travel through the collection tray, pick up moisture, cycle through the furnace, and then finally returns to the duct system where the moisture-laden air is distributed into your home.
For the most part, dehumidifiers are trouble free, but they do require maintenance — emptying the tank, cleaning it periodically to keep bacteria and mildew in check, vacuuming the dirt from the coils, and replacing the power cord and plug if they get worn.