Charlotte can be quite muggy and humid during the warmer summer months. The winters in our area typically aren’t as dry as in many other parts of the country, but constantly running your heating system can still lead to the air in your home feeling extremely dry. Both high humidity and extremely dry air in the home are quite common issues, and the best solution for overcoming them is installing a whole-home humidifier or dehumidifier. In this guide, we’ll show you how whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers work, the benefits they can provide, and how to know if the air in your home is too dry or too humid.

Understanding the Ideal Humidity Level for Your Home

The perfect humidity level for your home is somewhat a matter of personal preference. Some people are more comfortable when the humidity level is slightly higher and the air is a bit more moist while others prefer it when their home is a bit drier. Generally speaking, however, the best humidity level for a home is always somewhere between 30 and 50%. If the air is too dry or too moist, it can potentially end up damaging your home and your furnishings.

When air is extremely dry, it will suck any moisture out of its surroundings. When the humidity level is too low, the dry air will cause the moisture in any wood in the home to evaporate so the wood starts to shrink. This can lead to wooden trim and wood furniture cracking or starting to warp, and extremely dry air can even cause the wood studs inside your walls to warp or crack. Leather furnishings are also quite prone to cracking when the air inside the home is too dry.

Too much moisture in the air inside your home can be an even bigger problem. All of the moisture can soak into the wooden studs inside your walls and cause the drywall to crack. High humidity also often leads to condensation forming on windows and walls, which can result in water damage. The biggest risk with high indoor humidity is that the condensation can allow mold to grow and potentially lead to serious mold problems. This risk is always highest whenever the humidity level is around 60% or higher, which is why it’s recommended to maintain indoor humidity levels at 50% or less.

How a Whole-Home Dehumidifier Functions

Whole-home dehumidifiers are quite similar to your air conditioning system as these use an evaporator coil and cold refrigerant to cause moisture in the air to condense. This means that the water vapor transforms into liquid water so that it’s no longer suspended in the air.

Whole-home dehumidifiers are installed onto the supply plenum, which is the large section of ductwork located just next to your furnace and HVAC air handler. When your air conditioning is on and running, the HVAC blower pulls warm into the return duct system. Some of this air flows into the dehumidifier and over the unit’s cold evaporator coil.

When the warm air hits the cold coil, much of the water vapor condenses so that the moisture content or humidity level in the air instantly decreases. The air then moves back out into the return plenum where it then flows into the air handler that houses the AC evaporator coil and blower. If your home is humid but not hot enough that you need to run your AC, you can also change the fan setting on your thermostat to “On” instead of “Auto.” This will make it so that the blower runs and circulates air through the ductwork and into the dehumidifier even though your AC itself is off.

A whole-home dehumidifier has a condensate drain line just like your AC does. This works to collect all of the water that forms inside the unit so that it can drain out into your plumbing system or possibly directly outside the house.

Whole-Home Dehumidifier Benefits

The biggest benefit of a whole-home dehumidifier is avoiding issues with condensation, water damage, and mold. As long as you leave your AC turned on all summer or at least have the blower running, the dehumidifier will help to ensure that the humidity level in your house should never rise above 50%. A dehumidifier will also keep your home more comfortable by preventing it from ever feeling muggy.

Another major advantage is a dehumidifier can make your AC more efficient and lower your electricity bills by up to 10% during the summer. This is because dehumidifying makes the air feel cooler, which can reduce the workload on your AC. Humid air can also make your air conditioner work harder to both remove the humidity and cool the air.

How a Whole-Home Humidifier Functions

Whole-home humidifiers also work as part of an HVAC system to increase the moisture content in the air when the furnace and heating system are running. There are several different types of whole-home humidifiers, which work by using either heat or electricity to cause water in the unit to evaporate so that moisture is added to the air. Bypass and fan-powered humidifiers rely on hot air from the furnace to evaporate water, which means that they will only work when your furnace is running.

Steam humidifiers, on the other hand, have electrodes that send a current through the water so that it begins to boil and turns into steam. This means that they can continue pumping moist air into the entire home even when the furnace is off as long as you set your thermostat so that the blower constantly runs. As such, a steam humidifier can keep your home from feeling too dry even on warmer days when you don’t need to turn your heating system on.

All whole-home humidifiers have a pipe that connects them to your home’s water supply. This is important as it ensures that you don’t need to refill the unit since water will always automatically flow into the unit whenever its reservoir starts running low.

Whole-Home Humidifier Benefits

Many people rely on portable humidifiers whenever they have a cold or any type of respiratory illness. Humidifying the air helps you to breathe easier and not cough as much as the moisture works to prevent your sinuses, nose, and throat from drying out as much. This is also why many people with asthma use humidifiers throughout the winter.

While portable humidifiers can come in handy, a whole-home humidifier will be far more effective since your HVAC system will move the moisture throughout the entire building so that every room is more comfortable and not as dry. A whole-home humidifier will also help protect wood and leather furnishings and also keep your skin, hair, and lips from drying out in the winter. Dry air also directly contributes to more static electricity, which is also something a humidifier will help to prevent.

If you’re looking to upgrade your home and your HVAC system with a humidifier or dehumidifier, Healthy Home Heating & Air is ready to help. We carry a range of different units, and our team can help you determine which one best meets your home’s humidity control needs. We also install whole-home air purification systems and can also assist with any of your cooling and heating needs. For more information on our indoor air quality services in Charlotte, contact us today.

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