Troubleshooting common issues
Whole-home humidifiers are designed with a variety of features. Learning about these features will help you maintain and keep your unit operating well.
Properly functioning humidifiers help to maintain ideal indoor conditions during cold dry months. Your health, pets, and home furnishings depend on this consistent temperature and humidity. Musical instruments, artwork, and wood items all need a controlled environment to remain in good condition. A guitar or piano can go out of tune or develop surface damage with out-of-range humidity levels. Artwork can dry out and suffer damage from these adverse conditions resulting in costly repairs.
Wood floors are no exception! They too, perform best in a steady, comfortable environment.
For most homes the only way to achieve this level of control is with the addition of a humidifier.
Looking for the right one? Click here to see our guide for why every wood floor deserves a humidifier and what to look for when purchasing one.
Six Common Humidifier Problems:
Unit Switch is Off
Your humidifier switch or circuit breaker might be in the off position! Check your on/off switch!
Filter or Water Line is Clogged
Most units work when water is supplied and converted into water vapor through evaporation or steam. The water lines or injectors can clog especially with hard unfiltered water.
In evaporative units, the water filter panel will accumulate dust and mineral residue reducing or preventing proper vaporization. Periodic and seasonal cleaning and replacement (of disposable) filter panels will keep your evaporative and hot water diffusion units functioning properly. Hot water vaporizer units tend to clog more often with hard water deposits. Note: A main line water softener unit from brands such as Rainsoft, Whirlpool, Aquasure, will alleviate this problem altogether, and provide healthier water for household use.
Check Damper Position
Many units have a damper located where the unit attaches to the ductwork. This may be closed during the summer months to avoid air pressure loss. If the unit is started with the damper still closed, the moisture will not disperse into the ductwork. Set a reminder or calendar appointment on your smartphone to remind you check this when doing your winter maintenance.
Water Line Shut Off
The shut off valve to the water line may still be turned off from the end of winter season when the humidifier is turned off. Remember to open this valve as the unit will not work without water. Note: check for any water line leaks as shut off valves can be a source of failure.
Power Cord Unplugged
Some units have a corded plug that plugs into a power outlet. Make sure it has not been unplugged and that the outlet has power. Some units are hard wired with no plug connections. If this is the case, simply check to make sure the circuit breaker is switched on at the panel.
Humidistat Set Properly
Setting your humidistat (this is the equivalent to a thermostat on your central HVAC) to maintain indoor relative humidity between 35% and 65% can be a challenge. If you set it to 35%, your unit will shut off at this lowest end of the acceptable range. As a rule, set your humidistat at the highest RH setting at which you intend to maintain your home. Program your unit as high as possible (between 35%-65%) without creating condensation on glass doors and windows. 35% is an absolute minimum threshold that wood floors can tolerate, so start higher around 45% to 50% and check your hygrometers until you find your home’s sweet spot.
A rule of thumb—the more the heater is running, the more humidity is being circulated. So, if running the heater less, the humidistat should be set higher to deliver more moisture when the furnace is running.
Note: it may be necessary during extremely dry but not freezing days, to switch the HVAC blower to the on setting for periods of time. This will circulate moisture through the vents without the heater being on. Remember to return to the auto setting once the RH has equalized and reached the target range.
Look for These Features in a Humidifier
Hot water input
Read this for help choosing the right one. Some humidifier models require a connection to a hot water supply to efficiently evaporate and humidify the air. It is not a deal breaker if you use cold water. At the least, your unit will be less efficient and will work harder to disperse the moisture into the heated air from the furnace. Some models have a heating element designed to accept a cold water input.
Blower controlled unit
This allows you to be able to blow humidified air into the ducts without the furnace running. This is the case if the home is dry but not cold enough for the heater to be on. You would switch the HVAC blower to the “on” position in tandem with the humidifier blower running during this period.
Choosing a unit with a dual indoor and outdoor temperature sensor will help monitor and respond to both outdoor temperature and indoor relative humidity to deliver optimum humidity throughout the home. This option is available on most quality brands.
Hygrometers are Indispensable!
Modern HVAC systems come standard with digital thermostats and most have built-in hygrometer with %RH on the display. Remember this reports the current humidity just as the thermometer tells you the current temperature and not what you want it to be!
We suggest having an extra one or two hygrometers that can be placed in various rooms to see how well the moisture is being circulated. Knowing the %RH of the rooms in your home will show your humidifier is working properly. The best brands are those from manufacturers of electronic sensors like, Accurite and Thermopro.