If you haven’t noticed, the issue of relevant humidity (RH) is a big deal when it comes to wood flooring.
When floors squeak and creak it’s usually a result of movement caused by a low RH.
Installation problems are also very prevalent when the RH is off in a home.
Remember my story about installing some Ipe in my house? You might read about it here before proceeding.
This is the humidifier I was using at that infamous time when my floor shrank, and when I say humidifier, I’m being generous with the term. You add filters to control the humidity but with no way to control the water input, it was a problem.
Hey, some of the best lessons are learned the hard way, and so with that, here’s what you want in a humidifier:
1. A furnace mounted humidifier
2. A humidifier that has blower control
3. An exterior thermostat connected to the unit
4. A Connection to a hot water supply
A furnace mounted humidifier
Stand alone room units won’t cut it. You need to ensure your home has a constant supply of water and humidity throughout the entire home. This is the only way to make that happen.
A humidifier that has blower control
Some homes are just really efficient and combine that with a humidifier that runs when only when the HVAC calls for heat, it might be insufficient. As you’ll see in the next post, it’s during the warm time of the day that your humidifier will want to add humidity to the home.
However, it’s precisely during that time when your HVAC isn’t calling for heat. With blower control, your humidifier can run the blower independent of the heater, adding humidity to the home at any time during the day.
An exterior thermostat connected to the unit
Believe it or not, you won’t be able to keep your home constantly above 35% RH during the winter in Northern climates. It’s not a good idea. You could ruin your windows, but that is a topic we’ll go over later. For now, it’s important to understand that when it’s cold outside, your RH should drop, when it’s warm outside, bring it up.
The only way for your humidifier to do this automatically is to install an exterior thermostat (which isn’t expensive). See the Aprilaire chart for how the humidifier would regulate this for you.
A connection to a hot water supply
When you take long, hot shower, you have a whole lot of RH going on in the bathroom, evidenced by the foggy mirror. The same idea goes with a hot water connection, it makes really good humidity… cold water, not so much.
If you have the blower control, take the next step to connect the unit to hot water.
A good in-unit humidifier is the key to maintaining the right RH for your floors in the cold of winter. Look for these four key things when talking to your HVAC guy.
Your floors will thank you. Oh, and don’t miss my next post as we continue looking at maintaining your floor in the winter.
So, which humidifier should I get?
Short answer: we recommend Aprilaire whole-home humidifiers.
Longer answer: see our article about why all wood floor owners need a humidifier.
This is the first in a series on humidifiers. Read our next article here.
Bryan is the regional manager for our Northern store locations and has been with The Master’s Craft for 10 years.