Diagnosing Home Humidifier System Problems


It’s winter in Iowa and that means dry air. Low humidity levels are often the culprit for indoor discomfort this time of year and can cause several issues, including but not limited to:

  • Itchy, dry skin and/or eyes
  • Scratchy throat
  • Chapped lips
  • Nose bleeds
  • Static electricity or flyaway hair
  • Splitting hardwood floors

There are a number of ways to combat low humidity levels. One way is to check your windows and doors for leaks and seal them. There are also some simple DIY humidification tricks you can use, like showering with the door open to allow moisture to escape into the home, boiling water on the stove, and more.

But the most effective way to manage the humidity level in your home is with a centralized humidifier. Whole-house (central) humidifiers are connected to your home’s hot air ducts and cold air returns and disperse moisture into the air. They can work with your HVAC system or independently and offer a number of benefits, including:

  • Energy and money savings
  • Decreased chance of colds, flu and respiratory illness
  • Support for people with allergies or asthma

Combatting Dry Air In Your House This Winter

Dry skin? Excessive static electricity? You’re not alone. What causes dry air in your house?

As the outside temperature begins to drop, so does the humidity level in your home. Dry air in winter is not able to retain as much moisture as warmer air during the summer months, and this can cause humidity levels to drop as low as 15 percent. When the outdoor temperature is 35 degrees Fahrenheit, the humidity inside your home should be 35 percent.

To know if there is a good humidity level in your home, look for a little bit of moisture on the bottom of your windows. If your windows develop frost or moisture less than 0.5 inches above the bottom, the humidity level is too low, and your house is too dry.

Having extremely low humidity levels in your home can be uncomfortable, so we put together some quick tips to help you combat dry air in your house:

Tip #1: Check for air leaks and seal them.

Always check your windows and doors, but also be sure to check the electrical boxes for recessed lights or outlets, as they’re typically not insulated and can let in dry air. These may seem small, but the extra air coming in can affect the humidity level in your house.

Tip #2: Whole home humidification.

Oftentimes older homes aren’t sealed perfectly, which allows cold, dry air to leak in. If your home is over 20 years old, you might benefit from installing a whole-home humidifier to help restore moisture balance to your home.

If you live in a newer home, you might find that you need to dehumidify your home in the winter. Homes built in the last decade are sealed very well with few places for air to sneak inside, leading to higher indoor humidity levels.

Tip #3: Try DIY humidification

There are also a few tricks you can try on your own to add moisture back into the air inside your home:

  • Using your stovetop more often to cook or to boil hot water can add humidity back into the air.
  • Instead of drying some of your clothes in a dryer, try using a rack or hanging them up to air dry.
  • When using your dishwasher, instead of letting the dishes dry with the door closed, open the door and pull out the rack to let the dishes air-dry.
  • While taking a shower, keep the bathroom door open and let the steam escape from your bathroom into your house.
  • Add some houseplants to your home, which release moisture from their leaves every day. Steps like these won’t completely resolve excessive dry air in your house, but in the cold winter months, every little bit of moisture helps.

Frequently Asked Questions About Centralized Humidifiers

If you’re new to whole-home centralized humidifiers, you may have some questions about how they work. Here are a few of the most common questions I receive from customers.

Should my humidifier run all night?

Yes. If you’re monitoring your in-home humidity with a humidistat, it is safe to let your humidifier run 24/7. A relative humidity rate between 30% and 40% is recommended in the winter. If your humidity level is outside that range, you may need to adjust the settings on your humidistat.

I suspect my humidifier is not working. How can I tell?

There are a couple of ways to determine this. First, when the humidifier turns on, you should hear an audible click and the sound of the fan starting up. You can also check to make sure water is flowing through the drain tube and out through the bottom toward the drain.

Why isn’t my humidifier getting water?

This could happen because the humidistat is not set correctly or because it is not working properly. To check, set your humidistat to the highest setting and listen for the click. If you don’t hear a click, this indicates that the electrical contacts inside the humidistat aren’t closing.

If you do hear a click but the humidifier still won’t fill with water, it probably means that another part is defective.


Managing humidity levels in your home during every season is important for comfort, health and keeping the atmosphere balanced.

For more information about whole-home humidifiers that can help manage the dry air in your home or if you need troubleshooting support, our home comfort heroes are here to answer your questions.

515-657-6634Request Appointment Online

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