Why Should I Use a Humidifier in Central Pennsylvania Winters?

Winters in Central Pennsylvania can get cold, and the air from your furnace and outside drafts can dry up your living space. On average, people spend about 90% of their time indoors, and in the winter, you may want to stay warm and cozy in your house.

Consider how to get the best indoor air quality for your home so you can stay healthy and comfortable during the coldest time of the year. Improved indoor air quality can positively impact the safety and comfort of your living space. Invest in a heater and humidifier that can provide a cozy atmosphere when you need it the most.

What Is a Humidifier?

A humidifier is an electrical unit that releases moisture into the atmosphere of your home. While there are different types of humidifiers you can have in your home, consider a whole-house humidifier to best control your property’s indoor air quality.

What is a humidifier used for? Whole-house humidifiers connect to your home’s HVAC system and send moisture through the existing ductwork. There are three types of central humidifiers you can install in your residence:

  • Reservoir: This system uses a rotating drum to bring water from the tank up into the flow of the heater’s air current.
  • Flow-through: A flow-through humidifier uses freshwater to blow hot water through the wet evaporator pad from the furnace.
  • Steam: This system propels a fine mist of water into the airflow of the heater.

What Do Humidifiers Do?

Whole-house humidifiers need to connect to the existing furnace or central heating unit and the home’s water supply. Once the technician installs the system to your HVAC components, it sends moisture into the ducts alongside the operation of the heater. They typically run in the wintertime to combat the dry air coming into your house from the outside. Contact your local HVAC technician to find out what a humidifier can do for your home.

Each whole-house humidifier involves the following components:

  • Water: The humidifier retrieves moisture through an existing cold-water tap close to the unit. Water travels from a device called the saddle valve to the humidifier through a flexible copper water line.
  • Humidistat: This component is similar to a thermostat, but for humidity. Set the desired humidity level to activate the water supply from the solenoid water valve assembly. Once the humidifier reaches the level you set, the water supply shuts off.
  • Water control valve: This piece controls the flower of water to the humidifier through an electric solenoid. When the humidistat initiates a change in humidity, the solenoid opens and sends moisture through the tube until the system reaches its programmed level.
  • Evaporator pad: This component of a whole-house humidifier collects and disperses water evenly so that it can evaporate. During the evaporation process, the pad also collects mineral deposits to provide clean, pure moisture throughout the house.
  • Air duct: The heater and humidifier in your HVAC system work together to blow the wind that causes evaporation. If your home uses central air conditioning, you should install a damper to control the airflow within the ducts.

When to Use a Humidifier

Humidity levels in your home should be between 30 and 60%. You will need to use a humidifier in your home if the humidity in your living space is less than 30%. Since the air is typically drier in the winter, you should connect your humidifier to your furnace so you can have a comfortable, warm environment when it’s cold outside.

In the summer, warmer air can hold more moisture and has a lower relative humidity rating. However, even as you use your HVAC system to heat your house in the winter, your home’s moisture level stays the same and produces an uncomfortable atmosphere. Using a humidifier to add moisture back into your home can improve your health, especially your sinuses and skin, during a season when the flu and other viruses are prevalent.

Do I Need a Humidifier?

If you live in Central Pennsylvania or another inland state, your home could be too dry in the winter. A humidifier will help you maintain a comfortable home environment as the cold, dry air absorbs moisture from the atmosphere. Consider investing in a whole-house humidifier to take advantage of these humidifier benefits for your home:

  • Reduces allergies: When your sinuses are dry, you’re more vulnerable to irritants in the air. If you suffer from allergies to pollen, dust or mold, you’ll feel them more when the atmosphere lacks moisture. A whole-house humidifier helps keep your nasal passages lubricated so you can breathe better in the winter.
  • Moisturizes your skin and hair: In the cold, bitter winter, you may suffer from cracked skin or chapped lips because of the cold air outside and the dry air inside. As you use a humidifier, you send moisture into your living space to revive these sensitive parts of your body.
  • Prevents the flu: A healthy amount of humidity in the air can reduce the formation of bacteria, viruses, fungi and dust in the atmosphere. Even though the flu is common in the winter, you can lower your chance of contracting it by investing in a whole-house humidifier.
  • Strengthens your cough: Dry air could result in an unproductive, dry cough. Adding humidity into your living space can send more moisture into your nasal and sinus passages, increasing the strength of your cough when you’re sick. A productive cough releases trapped or sticky phlegm and helps you get better more quickly.
  • Protects your valuables: Wood floors and furniture can crack or warp when the air is too dry. A healthy amount of humidity can preserve the wooden elements of your house for years to come. Moisture also improves the quality of your houseplants.
  • Helps reduce snoring: If your sinuses and throat are dry, you are more likely to snore as you sleep. A humidifier can help you sleep better at night and keep your nasal passages moist to prevent snoring.
  • Lowers heating costs: The moisture in the air helps trap the heat that your furnace produces so your house stays warm for longer. If you have a more comfortable environment, you don’t need to use your heating system as much, so you’ll save money on your energy costs in the winter.
  • Controls static electricity: In the winter, you’re more likely to shock objects and people around you because of the dry air. Your skin and the atmosphere of your home will be moist and reduce the chance of static shock if you install a humidifier on your property.

Portable Humidifiers vs. Whole-House Humidifiers

A portable humidifier is a cost-effective option, but it may not be as efficient as a whole-house humidifier. While a whole-house humidifier will provide a comfortable atmosphere for your entire living space, a portable one only humidifies one room. You should invest in a unit that connects to your HVAC unit to take advantage of these benefits:

  • Easy humidity control: Over the summer, you should turn off your humidifier when the air is naturally more humid outside. A whole-house humidifier only turns on if your home’s humidity reaches the level below the humidistat, so you don’t ever have to worry about too much moisture coming into your home.
  • Easy to maintain: With portable humidifiers, you have to clean it often and fill it with water to make sure it works. To take care of a whole-house humidifier, all you have to do is change the evaporator pad and canister about once a year. Your HVAC technician can change them out during regular inspection in the spring, or you can invest in a replacement for a few dollars and do it yourself.
  • Easy to use: Like your HVAC system, you can set the desired humidity level on your humidistat and carry on with your day without worrying about adjusting it.
  • Easy to install: Even if you hire an expert HVAC technician to set up your whole-house humidifier, you’ll save money on labor fees when the project is simple.

Whole-House Humidifiers FAQ

Even after learning about all these humidifier benefits, you may still have questions about them. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding whole-house humidity control.

How Can I Control the Dryness in My House?

Installing a whole-house humidifier is one of the best ways to get rid of the dry, stale feeling in your house. To help out this system to provide even better air quality, follow these tips:

  • Seal your home: The cold winter wind lacks the humidity you need to have a comfortable environment in your living space. Prevent drafts from coming into the house by weatherstripping or caulking the openings in your crawl spaces, doors, windows and attics. This added protection will also help you save money on your monthly energy expenses.
  • Drink plenty of water: In winter, you might not think about drinking water because you usually don’t sweat when it’s cold. However, you should hydrate your mouth and skin by drinking several cups of water throughout the day. If you don’t like water, you can squeeze some fruit into your drinking glass for flavor.
  • Take shorter showers: The hot steam from a shower can make your skin dry, so keep your showers to a minimum in the winter. Use a gentle soap to clean yourself with warm water. Turn off the water once you’ve finished, and apply an oil-based moisturizer after you dry yourself.
  • Get houseplants: The moisture from your plants evaporates into the air and provides humidity for your living space. Make sure you water them throughout the year so they get the nourishment they need.
  • Cook on your stovetop: As the water boils in a pot or a tea kettle, it releases moisture. Consider preparing several meals throughout the day on the stovetop so you can naturally humidify your living space.
  • Use drying racks: Instead of putting your wet clothes in the dryer, hang them inside your house. This method may take longer than using the dryer, but you’ll save money and have a more comfortable environment.

What Does a Humidifier Help With?

Humidifiers are good for providing cozy, breathable air in your living space. Instead of inhaling dusty, dry air from the furnace and the outdoor wind, a humidifier adds some extra moisture into the atmosphere and helps relieve your unpleasant symptoms. You may need a humidifier in your house if you suffer from these medical conditions in the winter:

  • Chronic runny nose: The dry air can dry out your nasal passages and cause an imbalance in your sinuses. As a result, you may suffer from congestion or a runny nose in the winter.
  • Nose bleeds: Besides congestion, a home that’s too dry can irritate the nasal membranes and cause crusts to develop. You could also have nose bleeds from excessive nose-blowing.
  • Dry throat: An atmosphere that lacks moisture will cause the water in your body to evaporate more quickly. As a result, your throat will be dry, and you’ll be more thirsty in the winter.

How Do I Know If the Air in My House Is Too Dry?

In the winter, the air in your house is drier than in the summer. If you still don’t believe that you need a humidifier in your home, here are some ways to tell that the atmosphere in your house is too dry:

  • You experience static shock as you touch people or objects.
  • You have trouble breathing from either a dry throat or a stuffy nose.
  • You’re thirsty, even after drinking plenty of water.
  • You notice cracking paint or warped wood throughout the house.

Besides these signs, you can also pick up a hygrometer from your local home improvement store to detect the humidity level in your house. You could also contact a professional in the HVAC industry to help you figure out whether a whole-house humidifier would be a good fit for your home.

Contact Ready & Able About Our Air Quality Solutions

At Ready & Able, Inc., we specialize in providing a comfortable indoor air quality for your property in Central Pennsylvania. If you reach out to us, we’ll help you find the best solution for humidifying the atmosphere in your living space. For our clients, we use a high-quality steam whole-house humidifier that comes with these features:

  • Digital control: Digital control displays the humidity of the home and lights indicate when the humidifier is running and when it needs service. You can also set up the humidifier to run continuously or only at the same time as the furnace.
  • Easy-to-clean technology: This system uses electrode technology and feeds on the impurities in the water, so you don’t have to filter it before use. It’s also easier to clean and maintain than other steam whole-house humidifiers that leave mineral deposits in the evaporator pad.
  • Covers more space: The unit we install can cover up to 6,200 square feet and the levels can be adjusted based on the installation and voltage requirements.
  • Easy to use: The automatic setting on the humidifier programs to monitor and respond to outdoor temperature and indoor relative humidity so your home could be comfortable all winter long.

Contact us today to find out more about how we can keep your living space warm and cozy in the winter. For more information, you can also call us at 717-963-2034.

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