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Everything You Need to Know About Central Humidifiers

Everything You Need to Know About

Central Humidifiers

Humidifiers help increase the humidity in buildings and homes thus creating a desirable amount of moisture in the air. While there are standalone units on the market, which can do this in a single room, central humidifiers are integrated into the plumbing and heating systems of a home, and work much more efficiently.

What is Humidity?

Humidity, or “relative humidity” refers to the amount of water vapor in the air that dissipates without resulting in physical residue. For example, a hot, humid climate will cause you to feel hotter because the air is so saturated that the body’s sweat doesn’t evaporate. On the other hand, in a drier climate, hotter temperatures are more tolerable because the surrounding air promotes the evaporation of sweat.

Research indicates that a “relative humidity” of 45% is ideal for most people. This is where central humidifiers can improve the comfort level indoors.


Additionally, an overabundance of moisture in the home can prompt mold growth or condensation on windows and interior surfaces that can lead to rotting wood and damage to insulation, paint and wallpaper.

However, a local home inspector or home inspection business can evaluate the components of your central humidifier system to ensure everything is working properly.

Albany Home Inspectors, Albany Home Inspector, Home Inspecrtion Businesses

Types of Humidifiers

Below, we have listed the two primary types of central humidifiers to choose from:

  • Drum-Type Humidifier: This design is more affordable, but also requires more maintenance. It consists of a rotating drum lined with an absorbent spongy surface that accumulates water from an underlying tray. When the central heating system is on, the air circulates and moves through the moist, porous sponge to increase humidity. Most manufacturers recommend periodic cleaning of the water tray and drum surface throughout the winter months to remove stagnant water and prevent mold and bacteria growth.

  • Trickle (or flow-through) Humidifier: The flow-through style humidifier allows fresh water to trickle into a metal panel that air passes through, thus creating water vapor. Any remaining water is dispersed down a drainage tube, thereby leaving no standing water. This “self-cleaning” design feature, while more expensive than the drum-type requires less maintenance and decreases the risk of pathogens.

Tips for Maintaining Central Humidifiers

Central humidifiers can greatly improve the air quality of your home or business. As with any piece type of equipment, routine maintenance and repairs are essential to performance and longevity.

Following are a few DIY maintenance tips for your humidifier device:

  • Some central humidifier units have a damper that seals off the opening of a duct. Be sure that the damper is closed during the warmer months, when not in use.

  • If your humidifier is located inside the furnace, it’s important to check for leaks prior to turning the furnace on. Even a minor water leak can cause rust and impede proper airflow into the ductwork.

  • Humidifiers are controlled by a humidistat that is adjusted according to the outdoor climate. Based on the unit’s design and manufacturer instructions, this may need to be maintained daily, otherwise the humidifier will over-saturate the air and cause condensation.

A local inspector can assess the condition of your central humidifier and advise you on the ideal settings to help prevent too much moisture and possible mold growth.

Schedule an Inspection Today!

Shield Guard Home Inspections is a family business dedicated to providing expert customer service and care in the Albany, NY area. Since first opening their doors nearly a decade ago, the team of licensed and certified experts have performed more than 8500 inspections and are exceptionally experienced and knowledgeable in what to look for.

If you have questions or concerns about your central humidifier system, or interested in other home inspection services offered, please contact us today to schedule an appointment!

Effects of Humidity

Proper levels of moisture in the air can make a positive impact on our health, as well as the integrity of our homes and belongings. Oftentimes, humidifiers are used to improve dry, cracked skin, as well as to help individuals with respiratory issues breathe easier. Likewise, moist air decreases the risk of dangerous pathogens being circulated in the air that can cause allergies and sickness.

Additionally, dry air can lead to cracked paint or cause wallpaper to peel. It can also cause damage to wooden walls, cabinets, floors, furniture, and instruments. Static electricity is also more prominent in dry climates. If you’ve ever experienced your hair standing on end, or being shocked due to static electricity, you know how frustrating and uncomfortable it can be, but it can also harm sensitive electronics.

How Central Humidifiers Work

Central humidifiers are far superior to portable, or standalone humidifiers. The individual units require someone manually power on or off, and refill with water, whereas the central humidifiers can be controlled by a sensor, much in the same way that central heat and air is controlled via thermostat.

Avoiding the Dangers of Humidifiers

It is important that the humidity levels of a central humidifier unit are properly calibrated to alleviate potential dangers posed by humidifiers. Such risks may include the growth of fungi or circulation of bacteria, which are generally caused by too much humidity, poor air circulation or lack of proper filtration. Improperly functioning units can sometimes cause temporary flu-like symptoms or respiratory issues.

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