Six Key Things to Consider When Purchasing a Whole-House Humidifier

Buying a whole-house humidifier can be a daunting task if you're a first-time buyer. Here are six key things to consider when buying a humidifier.

Darrell Smith
Buying a Whole-House Humidifier

After buying a house, most homeowners anticipate needing certain repairs and replacements. Whether you've owned your space for six minutes or sixty years, it's likely that buying humidifier has found its way onto your list.

Was it your children's allergies, coughing fits, or disrupted sleep that got your attention? Was it your sinuses saying hello? The dry air brutalizing your skin? Or your now ugly-chipped wallpaper?

Whatever it was, these symptoms are your messengers, saying now is the time to consider a whole-house humidifier.

Why a Whole-House Humidifier?

Most people are familiar with humidifiers as single-room units that increase moisture in one specific area.

But there are downfalls to single-room humidifiers. Many require higher maintenance, can produce bacteria growth, and pose burn risks for children in the case of warm-misted models.

For those using single-room units as a purifying home decor accessory, you know that humidifiers come with digital displays, adjustable humidistats, timers, filter sensors, medicine cups (to vaporize medication - whoa), tank capacity, output capacity, and many other components.

While it's great to have choices, it can instead feel like shopping for the latest electronic gadget and distract you from the ultimate purpose of finding proper humidification for your home.

Whole-house humidifiers, on the other hand, can simplify the chaos, transforming ever-changing accessories into one simple long-lasting installation.

How Does a Whole-House Humidifier Work?

If you suffer from any of the following, it might be wise to consider becoming a whole-house humidifier owner:

  • Frequent common-cold symptoms
  • Allergy complaints
  • Inefficient energy circulation and insulation in the home
  • Warping furniture
  • Cracked or chipped wood in the foundational structure

Whole-house humidifiers connect to your pre-existing heating and cooling system to bring moisture into the house through the air ducts.

Not only does a whole-house humidifier increase the air quality, but it has energy-efficient rewards. The increased moisture from a whole-house humidifier can create natural warmth at a lower temperature.

And the EPA reports a 4% increase in savings on your heating bill per lowered degree on your thermostat, which can add up to a significant amount over the years.

Humidifiers Versus Air Purifiers

If you're debating about investing in a humidifier, it's likely you've encountered its distant cousin, the air purifier. While they do complement each other, it's important to understand their separate functions.

An air purifier reduces mold and allergens in the air, while humidifiers increase the water content in the air, making it easier to breathe. Air purifiers don't adjust the humidity, though they can help monitor allergy symptoms.

These are basic descriptions, but they should help you decide which would be a better fit for your home.

What to Consider When Buying

1. Where You Live

Are you or your loved ones experiencing random, seasonal ,or constant allergy flares that can be explained by your geography? Having a better understanding of your outside environment can help you better regulate the inside.

If you live in a dry, cold, and/or allergen-laden climate, a whole-house humidifier is a smart response.

2. What You're Trying To Achieve

Healthy indoor humidity levels are between 30-50%. Below 30% is too dry and above 50% could result in mold and bacteria growth.

Responding to your environment with a whole-house humidifier can provide comfort, ease, and an overall increased standard of living.

3. Your Water Quality

Typically, a whole-house humidifier's moisture output equates to at least 9 gallons of water that pumps into your air. Since you'd be breathing in this water vapor, it's essential to know about your local water supply.

We've provided you a list of water providers that should include your local provider. Each location has its own breakdown of local water quality reports that can help you understand the quality of water emanating from your humidifier.

4. The Right Type of Humidifier For You

When choosing a humidifier, there are multiple types to consider: bypass humidifiers, fan-powered humidifiers, and steam humidifiers.

Bypass Humidifiers

Bypass humidifiers use the furnace to produce warm air onto a water tray, which is then recycled back into the house. This type of humidifier requires occasional emptying of the water tray, though some models may have no drain maintenance.

Fan-Powered Humidifiers

Also known as flow-through systems, fan-powered humidifiers are similar to bypass humidifiers except they use a fan to increase water evaporation through the tray. As a result, they're considered more energy-efficient.

Steam Humidifiers

Steam humidifiers use electricity to convert water to steam for a fast and natural form of moisture. Steam is essentially lotion for your family's dry-skin issues.

5. What Your Home Needs

The size and layout of your space may influence your choice of humidifier. Certain models depend on the square footage of your home and also on whether you'd like your humidifier to work with or without your pre-existing HVAC system.

6. Long-Term Impacts of Whole-House Humidifiers

Here's what to expect with whole-house humidifiers long-term:

  • Increased ventilation: Whole-house humidifiers are basically an extension for your house's “chest cavity.” Letting your house breathe helps your lungs breathe better.
  • The preserved structural integrity of your home: Your timeline for necessary repairs and replacements may slow down as a result of this installation.
  • Improved health overall: Moister air can help you and your family have healthier skin, lower risk of infections, relief from allergies and asthma, and more.

Count Me In

For those of you who:

  • have tried single room humidifiers and air purifiers
  • have replaced your windows and done other home projects to increase comfort
  • regularly fight with your thermostat

and still find yourself unsatisfied, three words: Whole. House. Humidifier.

For our take on the best models, check out WaterZen's favorite whole-house humidifiers.

In this post: whole house humidifiers, whole home humidifiers


WaterZen exists to improve your family's health by making information about the water you drink more accessible, straightforward, and easy-to-understand. We do this by providing clear, simple water-quality information for your area based on data from your local water provider, unbiased comparisons, health standards, and expert opinions.

The way we see it, when you're informed about the quality of your water and then empowered to protect your family (and your community), you've achieved "water zen".