Most of the time when you hear about humidifiers, it’s because they make the people in your home more comfortable. That’s absolutely true; a humidifier can help soothe dry skin and chapped lips and reduce those pesky static shocks. But there’s another critical reason your home needs a humidifier: to protect your home against dry Montgomery and Fredrick County winters.

During the summer months the humidity level in an air conditioned home is around 50%.  In the winter that humidity level can drop to 15% unless you have a humidifier.  The moisture is getting pulled out of everything!  That’s why your skin gets dry. But that’s not the only place that loses moisture. Wood in particular is very susceptible to drying and cracking during the winter months. In fact, one of our customers called us to install a humidifier after they ran into an issue.  They just moved into a beautiful, expensive home and did a number of renovations. The owner heard a sound he thought was a gunshot; a loud crack! that scared the daylights out of him. On further inspection, he found that the massive oak doors he’d just had installed had become too dry and split right down the middle, wasting his investment. We have also have had to install a humidifier for a friend after they bought a pricey new all-wood coffee table. They didn’t have a humidifier, and in a matter of weeks, it developed a massive crack down the middle. These homes were so dry that the air pulled moisture in these wood furnishings destroying the investment.  So, if you have nice wooden furniture, antiques or even trim work or bead boarding in your home, buying a humidifier is a sound investment.

Homes of the last 10-15 years are built tighter than the homes that were built in the 50’s and 60’s.  If you live in an older home that hasn’t been updated with new doors, windows or insulation, a humidifier may not be able to keep up with all the cold dry air that is infiltrating through the gaps in the home.  What’s a homeowner to do?

  • If you live in an older home with original windows, consider having them replaced. Over time drafts develop, glass grows thin and brittle and the windows just can’t do their job. Swap them out for new double-insulated panes that will reduce the drafts.
  • Basements are notorious for letting in drafts, especially if you have bay windows. Do you ever notice cobwebs gathering in the basement? You don’t have a spider problem, you have a draft problem that pulls dust into cobwebs. Use a spray sealer like Great Stuff to create a stronger barrier and keep those drafts at bay.
  • Get that humidifier. Once you’ve done all you can to insulate your home, we can help you figure out which humidification system is right for you. We can help you with everything from a whole-house humidifier to an effective steam humidifier.

Keeping your home at a pleasant humidity helps your family and your home. Don’t risk either—contact GAC Cooling & Heating today, and we’ll help you with all your HVAC needs in Montgomery and Frederick County.

Category : Humidifier | Blog

Now that the air conditioners off and the heat is switched on. There are a few things you can do to make sure you’re ready for heating season.  First, let’s be sure to test your heating system before you actually need it.

There’s no reason to wait to the last minute to find out your heat isn’t coming on – Switch your thermostat over to heat and let it run for a few minutes.  Stand next to your indoor heating system and listen to it start up and make sure there aren’t any strange noises.

If you have manual dampers to redirect airflow based on the season, now would be a good time to adjust those.  Remember – we want to send more of the heated air to the bottom floors of your home during the winter and restrict the airflow to the top floors.  This way the downstairs will be comfortable and the heat will naturally rise to the upstairs.  If the damper settings aren’t already labeled, label the winter and summer settings with a marker so you know where to set them next season.

As the colder weather arrives, don’t over adjust your thermostat.  Many people set the temperature too low during the day when no one is at home thinking they are saving energy.  When they return home in the evening, the system must run much longer to reach the desired temperature and much of the energy savings are lost…not to mention being uncomfortable for several hours.  A few degrees variance will do the trick.  And let’s clear up a common misconception while we’re on the topic:  Moving the set temperature on the thermostat way high (or low) does not result in more heat (or cooling).  The system will only run longer and over-shoot the desired temperature.

In the winter, open the shades and blinds during the day to allow sunlight to help heat your home.  Regularly change or clean your air filters.  Dirty filters reduce airflow causing the system to work harder and use more energy.  If you’re one that forgets to pick up replacement filters or need an odd size, let us know.  We provide replacement air filters by the case so you always have a replacement available and can provide custom sizes.

Seal up those leaky doors, windows and exterior penetrations – All those places where cold, outside air can be drawn into your home.  Warm air naturally rises and that air must be replaced – known as The Stack Effect.   Reduce the amount of air infiltration into your home and you’ll be more comfortable and save on energy usage this winter.

And those of you that have humidifiers, service the humidifier at the beginning of the heating season.  Replace the water panel and open any dampers on the bypass lines.  Usually the humidifier needs a good cleaning every season.  Check to see that the water supply is on and verify that there are no leaks.  Be sure to check the drain, too.  Pour water down the drain and make sure that it isn’t clogged.

For those of you that are members of our Peak Performance Maintenance Program, we will take care of all of the maintenance issues for you.  But it’s still a good idea to test the system before you actually need it.

Category : Energy & Money Saving Tips | Heating | Humidifier | Maintenance Agreements | Uncategorized | Blog

Have you ever considered whether or not you need a whole house humidifier? A humidifier might be a great addition to your whole home comfort system if you:

  • Find yourself zapped by static shock
  • Wake up in the morning with a sore throat, chapped lips or just feeling dry all over
  • Notice cracking in your wood furniture, floors or drywall

You may notice that these issues become worse in the winter. Your heating system adds to these humidity-related problems because the process of heating the air removes moisture. A whole house humidifier can be installed on your heating system to add moisture to the warm air and deliver it through the duct system to your entire home, making you and your family more comfortable.

Even better, a whole house humidifier can actually save you money. A home with higher humidity will feel warmer, allowing you to be more comfortable at lower temperatures. I’m sure you’re familiar with this concept from the weather we experience in Maryland in the summer – as they say, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity that makes our Maryland summers so sweltering.

Over the years, we’ve been to many homes in Rockville, Germantown, Gaithersburg and other cities throughout Montgomery County where our customers have humidifiers, but they feel as though their home’s air is still too dry. We have found that there are two major obstacles that can diminish a humidifier’s effectiveness:

Problem: Your Heating System. Humidifiers make your home more comfortable by adding moisture to the air. However, humidifiers only work when your heating system is actually running, so you’re only adding moisture when your furnace or heat pump is on. Most systems only run a fraction of the time, and even less if they’re oversized, as many older units are.

Solution: Variable speed furnaces and heat pumps can improve your humidifier’s performance. These units operate on lower settings most of the time, which means they run for a longer period of time to achieve the same effect. This allows more time for your system to add humidity to the conditioned air, and also allows you to run the fan on lower speeds. The lower speed lets you to run your fan continuously with the humidifier, providing additional humidification without requiring the system to operate in heating mode.

Problem: Air Filtration. Your home needs to constantly exchange fresh air from the outside to be healthy. However, we have found that most homes let in far too much air. An average healthy home requires 5-7 complete air exchanges each day in which the air inside your home is totally replaced with fresh air. We’ve measured homes with more than twice that amount! That means the air inside your home is being humidified, conditioned, and then escaping to the outside. The humidity that you have added is being lost outside and your humidifier is unable to keep up with the drier outside air. Not to mention all the money you’re wasting air conditioning the outdoors!

Solution: At GAC Cooling & Heating, we now suggest we analyze any home before installing a humidifier. We want to look at the windows, doors and other places where air can infiltrate into your home.  With this information, we can determine whether the humidifier will perform as it should. We can also point out areas where simple improvements like weather stripping or insulating your duct work can be made to decrease the amount of infiltration to the home.

If you’re interested in more information about how you and your family can stay healthier and more comfortable year-round with a whole home humidifier, contact us at 301.926.3253.

Category : Heating | Humidifier | Blog