How Does a Whole House Humidifier Work?

How Does a Whole House Humidifier Work?

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Do you ever find the air in your house is dry and leaving your throat feeling scratchy?

Perhaps it is hard to feel back to your normal self after a common cold and the symptoms last longer than usual.

Do you suffer from a dry cough or even dry, itchy eyes? Sounds like the levels of humidity in your home are out of whack.

A whole-home humidifier can work to help you lower those extra levels of moisture in your home. Where do you put it? A whole home unit is installed right into your home’s venting system! How to install it? How much do they cost? Let’s read on to find out!

What is Humidity?

What is Humidity?

Humidity can become out of balance during cooler winter months when there is a constant source of heat being used. While it does warm the air and the people living in the home, it can suck the moisture out of the air.

If you live in a typically dry, warm climate, it can become a task to create moisture in the air. When there isn’t enough humidity in the home, it can not only threaten the physical well-being of the occupants, it can also cause damage to the structure of the home and its internal contents.

To determine if a whole-house humidifier is right for your home, you will need to understand exactly what humidity is and how it can affect your home. Humidity is defined as the amount of water vapor in the air around you.

Air that has the best quality for breathing should have levels of humidity from 45% up to 55%. If the humidity levels in your home reach a higher percentage than those, then it can be harmful not only to your family but also to the home itself.

Humidity Level Rate Rising 100 Percent Thermometer

People whose homes are high in humidity can find that respiratory problems are more prominent and when illnesses strike, such as a head cold, the symptoms last longer than that of the average person.

This is because you are breathing in damp air that can irritate the lungs and throat. The same could be said if the air in your home is too dry. Arid dry air can reduce the amount of moisture found in the mucous linings of your body and cause skin conditions to flare up.

Too much humidity or not enough can also affect the home’s structure. Wood that is dried out can split and crack, threatening the integrity of the support beams in the walls of your home. Wood that has absorbed too much moisture can become swollen and warped, which put too much strain on the beams of your home.

Whole Home Humidifier

Whole Home Humidifier

A whole-house humidifier is a humidifier that is installed directly into your home’s central air system or furnace. It disperses water vapor into the atmosphere of any room of the home where a duct or vent connected to the air system or furnace is located.

This style of humidifier can be more convenient than a single-room unit because the humidity levels are always controlled without the need of an appliance taking up floor space in your home and it doesn’t require electrical cords for power. They also require less supervision, as there isn’t a water tank to be refilled once the humidifier has run dry because they instead connect through the use of a valve to your existing water pipes.

While these humidifiers are more expensive than a smaller model, they can be considered an investment due to the time and money that you could save on repairs and replacements. People who use a whole house humidifier have also reported saving money during the winter months, as the moist air will help the home retain heat, in turn reducing heating costs.

Types and Operation

Aprilaire 700 Automatic Humidifier
AIRCARE MA0800 Digital Whole-House Console-Style Evaporative Humidifier

There are two basic types of a whole-house humidifier:

  • The first is a flow-through type that pushes water through the humidifier into a drainage system to create water vapor
  • The second is a reservoir type where water is stored until a rotating drum releases water vapor into the air.

These humidifiers need a steady source of water to operate at peak conditions, so a water valve located near the device is mandatory. Copper lines are then installed to ensure the water flows to the device at an even pace and reduce leakage.

Both types of whole-house humidifiers release the water vapor with the help of a fan system (either one wired into your humidifier or the furnace’s existing system) into either the warm air coming from your furnace or the clean air that the central air system produces. Both the central air system and furnace are in operation on a daily basis in your home, so it becomes easier to adjust and maintain the humidity levels with the use of a whole-house humidifier.



Reservoir whole-house humidifiers will need a stricter maintenance schedule than that of a flow-through type because there is a standing pan of water where bacteria and other germs can form over time. It is necessary to clean this pan on a regular basis as per instructions to ensure the water vapor being pushed into your home’s air is clean and purified.

A whole-house humidifier is a larger and more intricate device than a portable humidifier and should be treated as such. Follow the maintenance instructions exactly as described to extend the lifespan of your investment or contact a local HVAC company to schedule regular maintenance appointments if possible.


So a whole house humidifier is definitely something that people could look into if they find the air in their home dry but don’t want to place an appliance in each common room. A whole house humidifier is not a minor expense, so research is a must on this purchase.

Consult with central air experts and your local appliance store. They can provide valuable information in regard to narrowing down the best unit. Ask if there is a warranty period or repair service from the brand that you are pursuing.

Not only are they convenient, but they are quieter than a floor or portable style of humidifier that requires constant electrical power. Yes, they are less expensive than a whole-house humidifier, but the extra cost could add up, especially if the unit is aging or defective.

A whole house humidifier could be used to protect your home and its occupants from suffering illnesses related to dry air as well as protect the structure’s sturdiness over time. Do you use a whole air humidifier? If so, what brand and model caught your eye? Tell us in the comments below and feel free to share this article!

How Does a Whole House Humidifier Work?

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