When you talk about humidity, especially during the summers that Midwest towns like Champaign, IL, often enjoy, you typically think about outside conditions.
Usually, people complain about high humidity. You know it well — the mugginess, the stickiness, the breathing problems, the feeling that it’s hotter than it is, and all that unpleasantness.
But there’s more to moisture than that, especially when it comes to indoor humidity. Indoor air quality, comfort, and health partly depend on balanced humidity levels. For your home to achieve them, you may consider an appliance like a home humidifier.
What Is Humidity?
Humidity, as you probably know, is the measurement of how much water vapor is present in the surrounding air. Water vapor gets into the atmosphere when it evaporates from large lakes or oceans, especially in warm conditions.
That’s why cities like Chicago, right on the shores of Lake Michigan, often experience humid summers.
The relative humidity is simply a percentage-based measure of moisture, determined by how much water vapor the surrounding air can hold at a given temperature.
If the current relative humidity is 60%, that means the air around you holds 60% of all of the water vapor it could possibly hold when it’s saturated or fully moist.
Why Inside Humidity Is Important
When a person feels uncomfortable inside the house, they might blame the temperature and adjust the thermostat. But the real problem may be relative humidity. Unlike Illinois summers, that problem may be that there’s not enough humidity.
Overly dry conditions can cause physical discomforts like itchy skin, throat soreness, and chapped lips. Dry air can also change your mucous membranes, making it easier to catch a cold or develop a breathing condition.
Too little humidity can also result in damage to your home’s wood fixtures, like shrinking or cracking.
Excessive humidity, on the other hand, affects your body’s ability to maintain internal temperature. It also results in mold, mildew, and moisture damage to your property and possessions.
What Is the “Right” Relative Humidity?
Different factors influence what the “right” relative humidity should be in a given area. But most experts say a relative humidity level between 30% and 50% is best for human comfort and health.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends a range between 30% and 60%. Either way, it’s a relatively broad standard around the middle of the humidity spectrum.
How Does a Whole-Home Humidifier Work?
When you hear the word “humidifier,” you may picture a box-like appliance that you put in the middle of the room. It’s a great solution — for that one room.
But it’s expensive and impractical to buy multiple humidifiers just to have one for each room in the house. For humidity control throughout the home, you need a whole-house humidifier.
A whole-house humidifier is installed within the ductwork close to your home’s furnace. It’s connected to both your home water supply and your duct’s return or supply end.
Inside the humidifier is a water distribution system constructed as a pad, steamer, or rotating drum.
As air from the duct goes into the humidifier, it enters the water. That water then evaporates, pushing more moist air out of the humidifier and through your home vents.
When the furnace is active, some of the air it produces goes through the humidifier and blends with the surrounding airflow in your house. The result is higher humidity in every room with an air vent.
Unlike stand-alone humidifiers, whole-house humidifiers are fairly low-maintenance. Models with pads or filters usually need to be changed out annually; those that use steamers just need to be cleaned once a year.
Benefits of a Whole-Home Humidifier
The most noticeable benefit of a whole-house humidifier is not noticing the humidity. The surrounding air stays at a comfortable moisture level, neither too dry nor too thick.
But there are other tangible benefits to your health, home, and budget.
Better Skin and Hair Health
Low humidity can have harsh effects on your skin. It extracts the oils your body uses for protection, leaving the skin itchy, uncomfortable, and rough.
In extreme cases, skin can get cracked or flaky, and the problem becomes even worse for someone with eczema or dermatitis.
Dry air also increases activity in the glands that produce oil, which commonly leads to acne. In cold conditions, you may find your hair becoming dry or brittle.
A whole-house humidifier improves indoor air quality by raising its moisture content to an acceptable level. You may notice improvements in skin condition, flexibility, and comfort, as well as healthier hair.
The humidifier may even help slow down the development of skin wrinkles later in life.
Better Sleep Cycles For Everyone
Low humidity disrupts the sleep cycle in several ways. Some people simply can’t get to sleep in an uncomfortably dry environment. Others may be susceptible to excessive coughing and sore throats at insufficient humidity levels.
The most common sleep disruption associated with dry conditions is snoring, which affects the snorer’s sleep cycle and the people they live with. Snoring happens when one’s breathing pathways are too dry or inadequately lubricated.
A whole-house humidifier can improve all those issues, helping you and your family sleep more comfortably and more silently.
Managing Cold and Flu Season
Cold and flu season can make some common ailments much worse when the humidity is too low. Your respiratory system depends on a moist membrane for protection.
In overly dry conditions, this moisture can be pulled out, causing respiratory irritation. That, in turn, can lead to a painful sore throat, agonizing sinuses, and poor overall respiratory health.
A properly humidified home can’t just kick cold and flu season to the curb. But it can make it more endurable. It can prevent an inflamed respiratory system from catching those viruses that travel easier in dry conditions, like influenza.
The right moisture balance can also keep a common cold from becoming something uncommonly dangerous.
Protection of Home Fixtures and Possessions
Dry conditions can wreak havoc on wood fixtures inside the home, like furniture, floors, railings, and most threateningly, foundations. Low humidity can also result in a buildup of static electricity, peeling of paint and wallpaper, and damage to moisture-dependent houseplants.
A whole-house humidifier helps create a supportive environment that’s healthy for both living and nonliving things. It also saves you the cost of repairing or replacing goods and fixtures damaged by low humidity.
There’s not much work needed to keep a whole-house humidifier in good shape. Like the rest of your HVAC or furnace equipment, it should undergo an annual checkup.
In most cases, this consists of nothing more than a pad replacement, filter replacement, or steam generator cleaning.
Don’t Be Left High and Dry
As oppressively humid as Champaign, IL, summers can be, winters can get brutally cold, arid, and dry. When this happens, a small, whirring humidifier in the living room won’t be enough to keep your entire house comfortable and healthy.
An all-home humidifier is a practical, economical, and effective solution for improving indoor air quality.
Home Humidifier Installation in Champaign, IL
Castle Home Comfort Heating & Cooling is your local source for home humidifier installation. Our expert technicians will lead you through the process of choosing and buying the best whole-home humidifier for your family.
We have four decades of experience keeping Champaign, IL, homes comfortable in challenging seasons and difficult weather.
The next time you search for an “HVAC technician near me” looking for a whole-home humidifier installation, you can schedule service online or call us. We’ll be more than happy to help you get started.