Are Whole House Humidifiers Safe?
Most times, when you feel uncomfortable at home, the temperature is usually the culprit. Unknown to many people, however, the humidly level of the house can also affect your level of comfort even if you have an optimum temperature.
In some locations during winter, the humidity level drops so much, which makes the house feel uncomfortable. This will manifest itself in the form of dry skin, excessively cold home, and the possibility of virus and other germs to spread.
The good news is that you can easily take care of this problem using a whole-house humidifier. Over the years, many people have adopted the use of whole house humidifier to improve the humidity level of their house and get their temperature to comfortable levels. However, this device comes with some health issue that makes people wonder if they are safe.
On whether whole house humidifier are safe or not, we must understand how it works.
Whole House Humidifiers: How Does it Work?
A whole-house humidifier is usually installed as part of the heating system. It is different from a portable humidifier that is used in the middle of a room. They are portable and used for a single room at a time. In addition, they are pretty easy to maintain as all you have to do is clean the device and change the water.
A whole-house humidifier is usually connected to the ductwork of the house’s heating system. The entire room in the home gets humidified as the humidifier works directly with the furnace. Using either a supply or return end, the whole house humidifier is usually installed in the ductwork close to the furnace.
The unit enjoys water supply directly from the house. Also, there is a system (humidifier pad, steaming system, or a rotating drum) that ensures your indoor air gets water. While the humidifier is in operation, water circulates through the humidifier pad and ends up in the rotating drum based on the model.
As the air from the duct travels to the humidifier, it absorbs some water. The water disappears into the air. With this, the moisture level in air increases as the air leaves the humidifier. The air from the humidifiers gets delivered to every room in the home, and it comes with an increased moisture level. This raises the humidity level in the house.
Are Whole House Humidifiers Safe: Possible Risk
Once the house gets uncomfortable, the first thing many people consider is turning on their whole house humidifier. However, whole-house humidifiers come with some dangers that could make them unsafe. This section will discuss some of the risks that the whole house humidifier presents.
Mold: The whole house humidifier works in conjunction with the furnace ductwork as it introduces moisture to the air via the furnace ductwork. Every part of the house gets the moisture that condenses on walls, floors, and surfaces. Excessive moisture content makes it comfortable for mold to grow. This triggers allergies and makes it easy for other respiratory issues to develop.
Allergies like coughing, sneezing, and itching eyes develop in people. The problem with mold is that it is invisible and difficult to eradicate. This is one of the dangers of whole house humidifier
Depreciates Wood: When moisture settles in excess on surfaces around the home, there is the possibility of destroying wooden surfaces. Roof boards and floors can be compromised as excessive moisture could lead to cracks. When the wood absorbs too much moisture, it affects the integrity.
In time, the wood could be soft and pulpy, and the quality deteriorates. There are times people might not detect this process, which affects the integrity of the board and other wooden surfaces.
Staining: The whole house humidifier distributes air to various parts of the house. This causes moisture to settle on numerous surfaces like windows, which triggers moisture stain. This problem is more pronounced in the winter when the outdoor temperature is pretty low. This can affect the aesthetic of your home.
Triggers health issues: If the filter and humidifier of your humidifier are dirty, it will breed mold and bacteria. This is bad for people with breathing problems (asthma) and allergies. Unfortunately, healthy people also could experience flu-like symptoms.
When mist or steam gets released into the air, it can also trigger other lung infections. This is one of the factors that make the whole house humidifier unsafe for people.
With this section, it is evident that using a whole-house humidifier comes with some dangers. The dangers are a result of the excess moisture that it introduces to your home. This, however, does not mean you should not get a whole-house humidifier if it interests you.
Rather, you need to take essential safety precautions to make sure that you and your entire household are safe. This means you need a way to reduce the harmful effect of excess moisture in your home.
Precautions with Whole House Humidifiers
In dealing with excessively little indoor air, we recommend that you consider air sealing. In a situation when this does not work, going for the humidifier is the best bet. Even after installing a whole-house humidifier, you need some precautions to take care of bad indoor air quality issues, mold, and other dangers posed by the whole house humidifier.
Here are some safety practices that can help reduce the dangers:
Consider a Steam Humidifier: Steam humidifiers, unlike a bypass humidifier, come with a component to heat water. Bypass humidifiers; on the other hand, gets its hot water supply from the supply duct which produces water vapor.
One of the cons of the bypass model is that warm air is introduced into the return plenum. This raises the temperature of the incoming air, which could lead to overheating. With a steam humidifier, however, even a short run time provides you with considerable humidity.
Consider Running the Humidifier Simultaneously with the Furnace: many people run their duct in an unconditioned space. Yet, one of the factors that contribute to mold growth is the use of the humidifier with a cold duct.
One way to mitigate this is to run the humidifier only when the furnace is running. This helps ensure that there will be enough hot air to get rid of the ducts to your space.
How to Avoid Problems With Your Humidifiers
In answering the question; are whole house humidifiers safe? Here are some ways to avoid problems that might come with them.
Some homes come with an HVAC system that has in-built hygrometer that keeps a tab on the humidity levels. For comfort in every home, the humidity level should be between 30 to 50%. You can purchase a cheap humidity monitor to keep tabs on this.
- It is essential to maintain the whole house humidifiers. It comes with a water panel that you should change every year, at least.
- Not only that, make sure you use quality air filters in your whole house humidifier.
- Never ignore water leaks, fix as early as possible
In addition, make sure you are getting quality ventilation. Bear in mind that indoor air quality is usually poorer than outdoor air quality. This is why we need a system that can remove polluted indoor air and replace it with fresh air from the outdoors.
Is there an alternative to Whole House Humidifiers?
Portable humidifiers, also known as the point of use humidifiers, are good alternatives to whole-house humidifiers. The idea is the same – to alter the humidity level of your house. With the portable type, you can humidifier a single room.
It is a good choice, especially when sleeping, as it helps maintain the right moisture content in a home. This not only helps people sleep comfortably, it is beneficial to the skin and air, and also helps get rid of allergies. It is also an excellent option to prevent snoring as it circulates moist air that stops the nose tissue from drying.
If you want to be comfortable at home, a humidifier is the best choice. Interestingly, there are other ways to raise the levels of humidity in the house.
In the cold winter months, for instance, some people do like to leave bowls of water in their house. This is to increase the level of moisture in the dry air. While this is not very effective, it does not cost you a dime and is worth trying out. You can also try the following to improve the level of humidity in your house:
- Switch off the bathroom fan when bathing and leave the bathroom door ajar. This will allow moist air to circulate to every part of the house.
- Avoid draining the water immediately after bathing. Leaving the water to cool will trigger evaporation. This process can help increase the level of humidity.
- You can consider reducing the temperature of the thermostat in the winter. This can help you reduce dryness in the air.
Are whole house humidifiers safe? Yes, provided you follow the right procedure and safety tips. There are some conditions and climate that makes the use of whole house humidifiers essentials. While they come with a couple of health hazards like molds and deteriorating woods and other structures, it can be managed. We have explored how to maintain your whole house humidifiers to reduce the associated risks as well as alternatives.