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Thread: Whole House Humidifier

  1. #1

    Default Whole House Humidifier

    I have humidity readings all over the house and they all range from 20% - 28%. I've weatherstipped all my windows and installed air-tite trims on all my recesssed lightings to hopesully increase humidity but still it is in the low 20s during this cold season. Would a whole house humidifiers solve my problem or should a portable one do the trick?

    I was looking at the Aprilaire 600a model if I went whole-house. Which one would you recommend for portable ones that has lots of coverage?

  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member CarlH's Avatar
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    What's the square footage of your house? What are your outside temperatures?

    The Aprilaire 400a has the same output as the 600a but uses less water. The nice thing about this type of humidifier vs. the drum type is that you should not have to worry about junk growing in your humidifier, but you are supposed to replace the water panel for the flow through type once a year. It sounds like the 400a uses a wick type water panel instead of a non-absorbant type.

  3. #3

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    My house was built in the 60s. The 1st and 2nd Floor combined is almst 1,800 sq ft. The unfinished unvented crawl space is about 1,000 sq ft.

    Outside temps are from 15 - 35 deg G. I'm in NJ.

  4. #4
    DIY Senior Member CarlH's Avatar
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    Do you have forced air heating? If not the aprilaire is not for you. For your house, the aprilaire 400 or 600 should be more than adequate. You will need a water line and a proper drain nearby for the humidifier install. If you have A/C check where the condensate drains and if that is suitable for use with the humidifier. You will need a drain with any "flow though" type of humidifier.
    Here are my comments on the portable units:
    • There is a lot of variation in the portable units and prices vary quite a bit.
    • Some cheap humidifiers are quite noisy.
    • Ultrasonic humidifiers can cause dusting.
    • Warm mist type are not energy efficient and require periodic descaling.
    • Wick type evaporative humidifiers require a new wick every now and then and if they stay wet for an extended persiod can grow mold and other stuff.
    • They vary in their output so check the that while you are making comparisons.


    28% does not sound too bad considering what the temperatures have been in your area recently. You might be able to get by with a portable unit and I would consider trying a portable unit first. If you have children, you might consider getting a portable unit for healthcare reasons. A portable unit can be useful when you or a child is having problems with congestion.

  5. #5

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    Yes, I have a forced air system and floor drainage will not be a problem.

    Please correct me if I am wrong. I feel a portable unit requires more attention and thank you for verifying that they are loud. A whole house humidifier makes no noise and is out of the way. When we have kids, wouldn't the whole house humidifier be better so humidity levels can be managed at 35% throughout the house.

    Currently, my thermostat is at 69 deg with 25% humidity. How much warmer will it feel at 69 deg and 35% humidity all over the house?

    It's been holding at 25% humidity for a while now in the house on the 1st and 2nd floor.

  6. #6
    DIY Senior Member CarlH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeyboy View Post
    Yes, I have a forced air system and floor drainage will not be a problem.
    Looks like the aprilaire 600a does not require a drain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeyboy View Post
    Please correct me if I am wrong. I feel a portable unit requires more attention and thank you for verifying that they are loud. A whole house humidifier makes no noise and is out of the way. When we have kids, wouldn't the whole house humidifier be better so humidity levels can be managed at 35% throughout the house.
    Not all portables are loud. Just some of them. Stores like Bed Bath and Beyond usually have some setup and operating at this time of year which lets you check them out. Yes the whole house unit is quieter and out of the way. They still require maintenance, usually once a year is recommended. Although, I have not changed the pad in mine for a couple of years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeyboy View Post
    Currently, my thermostat is at 69 deg with 25% humidity. How much warmer will it feel at 69 deg and 35% humidity all over the house?
    About 1 degree warmer. A while back I came across a nice chart, but I can't find it now. Here is one, but it only goes down to 70F.

    http://home.howstuffworks.com/humidifier1.htm
    Last edited by CarlH; 01-25-2009 at 05:05 AM. Reason: added interval for maintenance on whole house

  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member chris8796's Avatar
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    Keep in mind your windows will determine the max humidity you can reach. If you have older single pane windows water will condense on them when the dew point of the air reaches the temperature of the window pane. Even with double pane windows, it can be hard to reach 35% RH when its 10 outside. Once you see water condensing on the windows you know you've gone to far and you cant increase humidity anymore.

  8. #8

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    So based on the 1 degree difference from 25% to 35% RH and it might hard to reach 35% RH even with my double pane windows, is purchasing/installing a whole house humidifier worth the money? It's around $750 for an Aprilaire 600a.

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    It depends on what's in your house. As you've seen on the humidifier forum on the other DIY site, people with pianos, for example, or hardwood floors, tend to worry that not having adequate humidity in the winter might have an adverse effect on those wooden items.

    I had a Trane 300 (same unit as Aprilaire 600) put in this year and am happy with it. I have a Honeywell VisionPro thermostat which has an outdoor air temperature sensor, so it modifies the humidity set point automatically during cold snaps.

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member CarlH's Avatar
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    I hope that $750 is an installed price. Even so, $750 still seems a bit high to me. You must have high labor costs in your area. List price on a 600a is something like $236 and you can find it for less if you check around. The 600a does not come with all of the parts for the install and these will need to be purchased separately.

    Is it worth it? It depends. Do you have problems with dry skin and nose bleeds? I don't think it will help any with the heating bill. It takes heat to evaporate water. This is more of a comfort thing than economic. Also, it helps with limiting the amount that wood will contract in the winter. Got hardwood floors?

    We had a low of 14F here this morning and a high of 32F and my indoor RH is 50% @ 70F and will start to drop if it stays this way or gets colder. My house was build in the 90's and has double pain windows and I have not had any problems with condensation. I don't think my humidifier has enough output to get to the point where it will cause condensation. If it stays cold for any extended time my RH will drop to 35% or lower.

  11. #11

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    I called a bunch of Aprilaire dealers and they are all quoting me around $750 installed for the 600a. I can buy it online for $200 but I am having a hard time getting someone to insall it.

    Dry skin a little...Nose bleed no. The whole house is hard wood. I understand I may not save much in my heating but I dont want to spend more by highering my tstats to over 70 deg. I have been in homes with 68 - 69 was more than comfortable.

    If you get a whole house humidifier, what would you set the RH to maintain in the house?

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member CarlH's Avatar
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    Since this is an issue of comfort for a desired thermostat setting and keeping that setting below 70F I would dig a little deeper into the situation. One thing that can have an effect is the type of thermostat that you are using. Some thermostats allow more temperature variation than others. Mechanical thermostats can have as much as 4 degree F swing, while the electronic and programmable can be as low as 1 degree. I have a programmable that I used to use to cut back the heat when I nobody was home during the day and at night while everyone is in bed. I don't do that currently since I have somebody at home all the time and that is sick.

    I'm guessing that you would want somebody to install this too if you wanted to change it. You might be looking at the same kind of cost for a thermostat install.

    Sorry, I just had to throw more information in there to confuse things even more.

  13. #13

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    I have one of those new Honeywell VisionPro 8000 Thermostats. I just had it installed less than a year ago.

  14. #14
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    On probably most of the Aprilaire humidifiers, if they don't come with an outdoor sensor, it is optional. On the one I have, it was standard. Adjusts the humidity and will shut the unit off once the outside temp exceeds 50-degrees, so you don't have to shut it off for the summer.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  15. #15

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    Also in colder climes, the higher the humidity, the higher the temp where warm moist air will turn to water in your wall and attic insulation

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