During extremely cold weather, your home loses humidity to the outdoors and may drop to as low as 10%. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommend that your home maintain a humidity level between 30-60%. As the exterior air temperature changes so do the optimal interior humidity levels of your home (see chart below):
A simple visual inspection test, look at the condensation forming on your windows. If excessive moisture collects on windows your humidistat is set to high. Excess humidity over a prolonged time can damage windows and walls especially when outdoor air temperatures are very low. As the temperature drops outside so must the humidity levels in your home. If the weather man calls for a prolonged cold snap be sure to lower your humidistat.
In general we recommend setting the dial at 35%. You may want to raise or lower it slightly because each home is different. Increase the humidity setting until you see a small accumulation of water droplets forming on the bottom half inch of your window panes then back it off slightly (a few percent) to ensure the proper humidity level for your home have been reached.
Depending on the model you choose and the size of your home, a humidifier uses from 1 to 15 gallons per day when the furnace is operating. This minimal amount of water is enough to raise the humidity to your desired level
A whole house humidifier is installed in the duct work, right beside your furnace. Although it can be installed by a handy do it yourself home owner it requires knowledge of HVAC, plumbing and electrical so it may be outside the expertise level for the average do it yourself home owner (Tip: leverage ServiceLive to find a professional in your area).
As far as console/room humidifiers, simply purchase one at your favorite retailer, following the instructions and plug it in.
One of the most important aspects of a humidifier, whether it’s a console/room unit or a whole-house unit, is the filter. The filter allows air to circulate through the wetted media trapping particles and adding clean water to moisten the air. Depending on your water’s hardness and mineral content you may need to change your filter twice during the season (Tip: if you have the humidistat on max and the air in your home is still dry and/or your console/room humidifier doesn’t need refilling as often, it’s probably time to replace the filter).
Whole-house humidifiers are recommended for their lower maintenance and because they evenly distribute the humidity across the entire home. Because of lower water requirements, a whole house humidifier can run for eight to twelve weeks before needing a thorough cleaning (Tip: do it your self by purchasing a filter sold at major home improvement big box stores and/or local hardware stores. Simply right down the make/model, purchase and replace the filter… the process is similar to changing your furnace filter).
Console/room humidifiers, on the other hand, need to be refilled daily and may need to be cleaned out weekly during the season to remove any mold and bacteria build up.
Regardless of the type of unit you have we recommend installing a new filter at the start of the season and then once again after the first of the year (every 2-3 months depending on the hardness of water in your area).
The Importance of Humidifiers During the Winter