Why Is Our Central Station and Dearborn Park Home Feel So Dry in the Winter?

well, that’s a good question.  Many homes heat the home just fine but humidity levels in the home are very low.  This can be caused by many different things but probably are caused by issues with your humidifier or lack of a humidifier.  Winters in Chicago are cold and dry, this is one reason humidification is a very important part of the heating equation.

The following is for informational use only and is not intended as a “How to Guide”.  Gremillion Mechanical always recommends that if there is a problem with any complex appliance in your home to call a professional service technician trained in the repair of that equipment.  Remember to always “stay in your comfort zone” when trying to perform any task related to your furnace and if you feel unsafe, call for professional help!

Gremillion Mechanical responds to this question many times during the heating season.  Part of being able to repair furnaces is to be knowledgeable in the extra components that go with the furnace.  Humidification in a home can be tricky to get right.  Your furnace doesn’t really dry the air out as some people think, but it does make the size of one pound of air larger.  A good analogy of this is coffee cup full of water.  The cup looks and is full of water, but if you pour the water from the cup into a 16 oz. glass, the glass will look half full.

The term enthalpy basically means the total heat content of air.  This takes into account many factors but the two we will talk about is humidity and temperature.  A good example of different enthalpy at the same temperature is Arizona and Florida.  When it’s 90 degrees in Florida it feels much hotter than in Arizona at 90 degrees.  But it’s 90 degrees at both locations, the difference is the humidity levels.  So in the winter when you use mechanical means to heat your home you dry the air in the home out, so you need to replace it because it works both ways.  Too little humidity in your home makes it fell colder then it should be at 70 -72 degrees. Again we need to look at the total heat content of the air, not just what is called the dry bulb temperature, (temperature that you could read with a hand held stem type thermometer).

This is a diagram of a by-pass humidifier installation in a typical home in the Chicago area.  These units were an improvement over the units that had fans inside them and would blow moisture laden air into the supply air plenum.  Sounds like it should work great but Gremillion Mechanical has found that the by-pass type work as good if not better at times, and they cost less.  In this diagram you can see the humidifier is attached to the cold air return with the humidistat (tells how much humidity is in the air going into your furnace), above the humidifier or upstream of the humidifier.  The humidifier is piped into the supply air plenum and away we go.  The fan from the furnace forces hot dry air out of the furnace through the pipe to the humidifier, then through a moisture laden pad inside the humidifier and then into the return air system back to the furnace to mostly go into your home.

There is a better method of getting moisture in your home during those winter months, that is a whole home steam humidifier.  This humidifier can be attached to the supply duct or remotely.  This gives the installer options of installation that are not found with the bypass type system.  The draw back to steam humidifiers is their cost.  They cost between two and three times as much as having a by-pass type installed but does work extremely well.  If you need to keep the humidity levels up in your due to illness or respiratory issues, you should really think about this method of humidification for your family.


Chicago Heating Repair
3526 S. Paulina St. ChicagoIL60609 USA 
 • 773-234-4575

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