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Buying Tips, HVAC Education, Furnaces

Furnace Humidifiers

Carrier furnaces are well-known for their ability to keep you warm and cozy during the wintertime. But creating a comfortable indoor environment during colder months takes more than just heating the air in your home. That’s why adding a furnace humidifier – often called a whole-house or furnace mounted humidifier – to your HVAC system can be the key to your family’s comfort. Here’s why:

Because cooler air doesn’t hold as much moisture as warm air, it’s also important to have the right humidity level. Dry indoor air can cause skin irritation or scratchy throats, and may also damage wood furniture. It’s common to address this by using small, portable humidifiers, but they require frequent water refills, and ultimately don't support your whole home. To address this, have your local Carrier expert install a properly matched humidifier to your furnace to circulate moist air through ductwork to your entire home. And if your furnace has variable fan speeds, your system can take indoor moisture control to the next level.

furnace humidifier

Furnace and Humidifier for Whole-Home Comfort

To see how a furnace and humidifier combination can work in your home, talk to your Carrier dealer during your next furnace service. Your dealer will be able to recommend a whole-house humidifier compatible with your current system to create the optimal humidity level for enhance comfort, protecting wood furnishings, and improving indoor air quality. If you are most concerned with comfort and furnishings, you should be targeting a range of 35 to 55 percent relative indoor humidity.

A furnace humidifier is attached to your furnace or duct system and includes a water source. Indoor air flows through the humidifier where it absorbs moisture and returns to your home as warm, humidified air from your furnace. Furnaces with a connected humidifier can control the moisture level throughout your home. Doing so can make the air feel warmer, which allows your system to operate at a lower temperature and can help save on energy costs. This type of whole-home humidification cannot be reliably achieved using a portable room humidifier.

Types of Furnace Humidifiers

Once you’ve decided to improve your comfort with a furnace and humidifier setup, you’ll need to make another decision – what type of whole house humidifier best fits your needs. There are three different types of furnace humidifiers: steam humidifiers, bypass humidifiers, and fan humidifiers.

A steam humidifier heats water until it creates steam which is released into your ventilation ductwork. These humidifiers are usually more expensive and use more energy, but are great for larger homes.

A bypass humidifier uses heated airflow from your furnace to absorb moisture from a pad inside the humidifier and distributes the humidified air throughout your home.

A fan humidifier uses its own fan to draw air into the humidifier unit where it absorbs moisture and then returns the humidified air to your duct system.

Bypass and fan humidifiers fall into the category of evaporative humidifiers because they both use evaporation to infuse the air with moisture. Steam or evaporative humidifiers are the best choice for controlled, whole-home humidification, but there is another option homeowners seek out – portable room humidifiers. While portable models can be less expensive initially, they don’t provide a whole-home solution and they require daily refilling and frequent cleaning.

Furnace Humidifier Pros And Cons

So far, we’ve covered many reasons why a furnace humidifier might be a great addition to your comfort system. Increased comfort, protecting wood furnishings and potentially improving indoor air quality to name a few. However, furnace humidifiers do have some potential downsides. That’s why it’s important to understand the furnace humidifier pros and cons before making your decision.

A furnace humidifier can be a prone to mineral build-up and bacteria or mold growth in the humidifier and evaporator pad. Leaking water lines or clogged drain lines from the humidifier are potential issues as well. These types of issues can be mitigated with proper maintenance and annual inspections. While furnace humidifiers are not an absolute necessity, they do offer a number of benefits that make the effort and expense worthwhile.

furnace humidifier pros and cons

Health Reasons

Dry indoor air can cause a number of annoying discomforts such as dry and cracked skin, sore throat, eye irritation, and even dehydration. More concerning, the National Institutes of Health have reported that low humidity can contribute to higher incidences of allergies and other respiratory infections.1

Climate Conditions

Some areas of the country are more naturally prone to dry air. Cold-weather regions lead to drier indoor air because lower temperatures make it more difficult for water to vaporize and become airborne. This dry air can contribute to dry skin and lips and other dry-air issues already documented in this article.


A whole-house furnace humidifier can improve your comfort by minimizing dry, itchy skin, dry nasal passages, chapped lips and more. Properly humidified air feels warmer than dry air, which may allow you to turn down your thermostat to help make your home more energy efficient. You can achieve these comfort benefits with an easy to clean humidifier that only requires annual maintenance and the convenience of not having to refill a water tank.

The Best Whole House Humidifier For Your Home

The best whole house humidifier for your home will provide enhanced comfort, minimal maintenance and will be sized to support humidity control for the entire coverage area of your home. Most offer the convenience of a continuous water supply so you won’t need to worry about refilling a tank, and some models include digital control over humidity levels. If you are currently thinking about buying a furnace, now would be a great time to consider this option.

If whole-house humidifiers are out of your budget you can try looking for a portable model to provide comfort in specific rooms. A portable humidifier will need to be refilled often – as an example, a smaller model that can take one gallon of water might need to be refilled after 36 hours of operation. And they won’t provide comfort, air quality and efficiency benefits similar to those provided by a whole-house furnace humidifier. If you think your family might benefit from installing a furnace humidifier, find a Carrier dealer in your area and make an appointment to today.


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