What is a Central Air Humidifier?

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Updated on Oct 23, 2023
5 min read
What is a Central Air Humidifier?

Many people become concerned about dry air soon after Labor Day when they reach for the thermostat to turn up the heat. One of the best ways to combat this atmospheric annoyance is to install a central air humidifier.

Here is everything you need to know about this brilliant equipment that can prevent dry skin, itchy eyes, flyaway hair, and irritated throats and sinuses.

How does a central air humidifier work?

Humidity is usually associated with excess moisture in the air. It is the job of your central air humidifier to make sure that this moisture level is maintained between 35 and 40%. These systems contain a humidistat which works on the same principles as a thermostat. Moisture level in the air is monitored by the humidistat which signals the humidification system to maintain a comfortable level of humidity in your home.

The humidifier adds water vapor or moisture to the HVAC air circulating throughout the house when it becomes extremely dry. A central air humidifier is connected to HVAC ductwork and furnace. It is also connected to your plumbing system. Water vapor is produced by using heat and water from the furnace.

Central air humidifier systems are better than portable humidifiers because they can improve air quality throughout your living space.

Benefits of central air humidifiers

These are a few reasons why you should consider investing in a central air humidification system.

  • It maintains the right humidity level in your entire home
  • It is directly connected to your plumbing system and requires less maintenance as compared to a standalone unit
  • These systems are quiet and out of the way
  • They are more energy efficient as compared to portable humidifiers that can only moisturize a single area of your home

Types of central humidifiers

There are three basic types of central air humidifiers:

Drum type

This has a rotating surface that is porous in nature, such as sponge or foam. Water is absorbed from an underneath tray which evaporates whenever humidity levels fall.


This is the most popular type of central air humidifier. This type of device has an aluminum panel in which water trickles. Air blows on the panel making the water evaporate, which results in increasing humidity levels.

Spray mist humidifiers/steam humidifiers

Spray mist humidifiers and steam humidifiers tend to be expensive since they are more powerful and can handle highly arid environments. Steam humidifiers work by heating water using electricity until the water boils over into steam.

The system adds this steam to air with the help of powerful blowers that pushes the steam through air vents. Water is directly sprayed into ducts in the case of spray mist humidifiers. The mist is picked up by the circulating air.

While choosing the right type of central air humidifier that best suits your needs, you need to consider your extent of dry air problem and your level of commitment for maintaining the system. Drum type air humidifiers may be the least expensive but requires most maintenance. The same holds true for flow-through, spray mist, and steam central air humidifiers as well.

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