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Does a Furnace Dry Out the Air in a House?

burners-in-furnaceThis is a question people often ask about furnace performance. During the winter, the moisture level in the air drops as more water vapor becomes pulled out of the air as snow. Dry conditions may be helpful during the summer, when it makes it easier for the human body to cool down in the heat. Bu dry air during the rest of the year presents comfort and health problems. Furnaces are often blamed from causing the air to become even drier. Is there any truth to the idea that a furnace “dries out” a home’s air?

Yes and No

This doesn’t sound like much of an answer, does it? But the issue is a bit more complicated than “a furnace drying out the air.” Technically, heating up the air doesn’t cause the air to become drier. What happens is that older types of furnaces, known as “atmospheric combustion furnaces,” draw air from the house into their combustion chambers to allow for combustion to occur. This causes a deficit of air in the house, and outdoor air then moves in to replace the deficit. Because the outdoor air is drier during the winter than the indoor air, this can lead to a drop in humidity levels.

However, newer furnaces can be constructed as “sealed combustion furnaces.” These furnaces have their combustion chambers shielded from the inside of the house, and they draw the air they need for combustion through a PVC pipe that leads to the outdoors. This prevents the furnace from pulling in indoor air and creating the air deficit. It also improves the furnace’s energy efficiency and is a safer type of furnace overall. If you’re concerned about humidity in your home and you’re looking for a new furnace installation, we recommend you consider having a seal combustion furnace put in.

Other ways to deal with low humidity

No matter the reason for the dry air in your home, you can solve the problem with the professional installation of a whole-house humidifier in Burlington, VT or elsewhere in our service area. A humidifier is integrated into the HVAC system of the house to work with the heating system to create a balance of humidity. The goal is a relative humidity level between 30% and 50%, the best range for comfort. Using a portable humidifier will only work at one room at a time and won’t give you the control you’ll get with a whole-house humidifier through its humidistat (the humidity controls, which can be integrated into a thermostat).

Arrange for winter improvements today

It’s still fall, but the temperatures are dropping and soon furnaces will be in regular use—and will stay in regular use until spring of next year. Right now is the best time to move with making upgrades and replacement to your home’s HVAC system to make winter easier. Talk to our experts to find out if you need a new furnace installation or if a humidifier will help you with dry conditions. (And if you haven’t scheduled your regular furnace maintenance yet, have that done right away!)

Red Rock Mechanical, LLC services Northwest Vermont and Northeast New York. Contact us 24-hours a day when you need furnace repair service.

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