What Is a Whole House Humidifier and How Does It Work?

A whole-home humidifier provides humidity control for every room in your home, enhancing your comfort in the winter or all year long in arid climates. It’s a smart humidifier that either has a humidity sensor built-in or gets signals from your thermostat. You don’t have to worry about when to use a humidifier - your system knows.

You simply set the desired humidity level on your thermostat and the system does the rest. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the ideal indoor humidity ranges between 30-50%. Most people find somewhere in the 40-45% range to be ideal in winter or dry climates.

A home humidifier connects to a water supply to draw in water as needed. When the thermostat sends a call for humidity, water is released into the unit. The unit operates until the proper home humidity level is reached, and then shuts off.

Types of Humidifiers

When you’re considering a whole home humidifier, you should know that there are three main types available from American Standard. These include:

  • Fan-powered 
  • Bypass design
  • Steam release


The Platinum Humidifier is an evaporative humidifier that has an interior fan to move dry air through the internal water panel, which causes the air to retain moisture. This air is then dispersed through your home for balanced humidity and comfort. 

Bypass Design

Our Silver and Gold units are bypass humidifiers, sometimes known as furnace humidifiers. The bypass design has a built-in damper with summer (off) and winter (on) positions. They are compatible with any furnace.

Steam Release

A steam humidifier internally heats water in a canister then passes the steam through a dispersion tube connected to your ductwork. It’s an excellent choice for homes in arid climates or large homes up to 5,000 square feet. It works with existing ductwork 

Benefits of Ideal Home Humidity

Does a humidifier help with a cough? It can. Does a humidifier help with congestion? It can. Do humidifiers help with allergies? They can. Dry air can cause or exacerbate a cough or stuffy nose. 

These are some of the most frequently asked questions about the benefits of a humidifier. But you don’t need to wait until someone is sick to get the benefits of a whole-house unit. By preventing the humidity level from going too low, you can help improve the indoor air quality and reduce the risk of respiratory symptoms.

When you pair a home humidifier with an air purification system, you can greatly reduce the allergens, including viruses and bacteria, that circulate through your home.

Humidifier Maintenance

Since a whole house humidifier is connected to a water line as well as a drain line, you don’t have to worry about refilling a reservoir with distilled water or cleaning it out with vinegar. You will, however, need to periodically change the humidifier pad/water panel on some systems. 

Your programmable thermostat or smart thermostat (depending on the model) will alert you when it is time to change the pad. Refer to your owner’s manual for how to do that. In many cases, you can purchase these filters/pads from the same place you buy your HVAC air filters.

During a professional HVAC maintenance appointment, your HVAC technician can add your humidity control system to the list of things to be checked out.

Wondering if a whole-house humidifier is right for your home? Contact your local American Standard dealer for expert advice and product recommendations tailored to your needs. For over 100 years, we’ve designed and manufactured some of the most awarded, well-engineered heating and cooling equipment and earned a reputation for doing things right.

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