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Humidifier, Whole House


If you have a whole-house humidifier: Reduce the humidistat setting on your central humidifier if moisture begins to condense on windows while it is operating. Interior condensation is a sign of excessive humidity. If it’s happening on windows, it can also happen inside walls without vapor barriers where the trapped moisture may promote the growth of mold or mildew. Both are extremely difficult and costly to eradicate inside walls.


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If you don’t have a whole-house humidifier: An excessively dry indoor climate happens frequently in homes that aren’t sufficiently sealed against cold air infiltration. The atmosphere loses half of its ability to hold water vapor for each 18°F / 10°C decrease in temperature. In typical winter conditions, that can mean infiltrating air is four times drier, or more, than the humidity a comfortably heated home can support. That reduces relative humidity inside the house, and many people solve the problem by using a humidifier.

Unless you live in an extremely dry climate, you may be able to reduce, or even eliminate, the use of a humidifier. Sealing a home by installing or replacing caulk and weatherstripping — and taking other measures to block air infiltration in the basement and attic — will help your home retain more humidity in winter. A tighter house also means lower heating and cooling bills.

Either contractors or do-it-yourselfers may perform house-sealing tasks. Materials needed for this work are inexpensive, and will pay for themselves in one year or less if homeowners install them properly.

Tenants may not be able to go as far as homeowners, but a few simple measures can help. Use inexpensive plastic window-sealing kits and removable rope caulk to block cold drafts through frames and small gaps. Most reasonable landlords won’t mind at all if you replace worn-out door and window weatherstripping. This minor maintenance is probably needed if it hasn’t been done in the past 10-15 years, and it will pay you back quickly in lower heating bills and greater comfort.


Note, however, that tight houses often have unhealthy air due to poor ventilation. Consider installing a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) with a built in humidity control.



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Humidifier, Whole House:  Created on June 4th, 2009.  Last Modified on November 9th, 2009


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