The first thing to know is that too much humidity in your home can create poor health conditions and add harm to your building. If you are not uncomfortable which means: if you are not experiencing dryness of nasal passages or skin irritation, or getting shocks when you cross a carpet and touch a metal door knob, seriously consider whether you need a humidifier.
If you are experiencing the effects and discomfort of dryness install a humidifier. I will provide a brief breakdown of the various styles.
Drum Style: This is commonly seen on many furnaces in disuse. It has a pan that fills with water and is turned on and off by a float. There is a drum with a circular pad that revolves through the standing water. The air from the furnace passes through the pad sucking the moisture into the air stream. Most commonly the float gets gunked up and the humidifier floods the floor. This style also becomes a source of bacteria and mold build up due to stagnant water remaining in the unit over the summer months. I do not recommend drum humidifiers.
Flow through style: These types have a biscuit instead of a pad and a drain tray instead of a pan. Water is not collected in the unit but is drained away. These are the most common humidifier and they work well but use way too much water. There have been discussions by some municipalities of disallowing use due to high water usage. But they are a safe and healthy way to add humidity to the home.
Power humidifier: If you have a modulating furnace you will need a power humidifier. These are very much a flow through but with a fan to push air directly across the pad for increased humidity. Modulating furnaces do not push out very warm air, therefore the fan compensates for the cooler air flow. Humidity is assisted by heat, the warmer the air the easier it is for the humidifier to do its job. Large houses also do well to use a power humidifier.
Steam Humidifiers: Steam is the best way to provide humidity. It mixes evenly with any warm air temperature and for very large homes will often be the only solution. But they use hydro in excess and require unrelenting maintenance. These are only for the brave of heart.
Laird and Son can determine the proper size humidifier for your home. Please call for a free estimate.