Most homes have a Humidifier built onto the side of the furnace.  Recently there is new information that this type of humidifier is affecting both Air Quality and Furnace Life.

Furnace mounted Humidifiers put moisture directly into your heating ducts. This moisture needs to be much higher in the ducts in order to control the humidity in your home.

Moisture in the ducts, combined with dust and heat, promotes mold growth.  Once you have mold in your ducts, that mold is being blown around your home every time your furnace turns on.

This same moisture is also blowing across the Heat Exchanger in your furnace.  This promotes rust and will shorten the life of the heat exchanger.

Adding humidity to your home during the cold winter months, prevents dry skin and shocks and helps us feel more comfortable.  Wood flooring and furniture also benefit from having the right level of humidity during the winter (35% to 40%).  I recommend you purchase a console humidifier and place it in a central location on the main floor of your home.  These units require filling with water on a regular basis so it will be top of mind and you are more likely to take the proper steps to maintain this type of humidifier.  For more information follow this link to learn some tips on how to manage your humidity. http://jbrinspections.com/?p=79

I recently came across an article that explains the dangers in greater detail:

Central Humidifier Dangers

Humidifiers can cause various diseases. The young, elderly and infirm may be particularly at risk to contamination from airborne pollutants such as bacteria and fungi. These can grow in humidifiers and get into the air by way of the vapor where it can be breathed in. Some of the more common diseases and pathogens transmitted by humidifiers are:

  • Legionnaires’ disease. Health problems caused by this disease range from flu-like symptoms to serious infections. This problem is generally more prevalent with portable humidifiers because they draw standing water from a tank in which bacteria and fungi can grow;
  • Thermophilic actinomycetes. These bacteria thrive at temperatures of 113° to 140° F and can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which is an inflammation of the lungs; and
  • “Humidifier fever,” which is a mysterious and short-lived, flu-like illness marked by fever, headache, chills and malaise, but without prominent pulmonary symptoms. It normally subsides within 24 hours without residual effects.

Other problems associated with humidifiers include:

  • Accumulation of white dust from minerals in the water.   These minerals may be released in the mist from the humidifier and settle as fine white dust that may be small enough to enter the lungs. The health effects of this dust depend on the types and amounts of dissolved minerals. It is unclear whether these minerals cause any serious health problems;
  • Moisture damage due to condensation. Condensed water from over-humidified air will appear on the interior surfaces of windows and other relatively cool surfaces. Excessive moisture on windows can damage windowpanes and walls, but a more serious issue is caused when moisture collects on the inner surfaces of exterior walls. Moisture there      can ruin insulation and rot the wall, and cause peeling, cracking or blistering of the paint; and accumulation of mold.  This organic substance grows readily in moist environments, such as a home moistened by an over-worked humidifier. Mold can be hazardous to people with compromised immune systems.

This article makes a reference to portable humidifiers being a concern.  Like anything maintenance is the key.  Cleaning your humidifier on a frequent basis is a critical step.

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