For years, medical professionals have been telling us that cold weather alone doesn’t cause influenza and other viruses. Yet the flu occurs in winter months, and is rarely seen in summer and spring. While it’s still not clear why this happens, some recent research points to the dry air of heated homes as a culprit in spreading the flu. Whole-house humidification is one good way to limit that. 

Studies have found that the flu virus thrives at lower humidity levels. Therefore, the heat and dryness of buildings that use forced-air heat without whole-house humidification create an ideal environment for the virus to spread. Virus-laden mucus droplets are dispersed into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks; the droplets evaporate in low humidity conditions and stay suspended longer in the air, where people can breathe them.

A whole-house humidifier is one of the best ways to keep humidity levels high and prevent the spread of germs. While it won’t prevent residents from catching the flu from others outside the home, it can reduce the spread in your own indoor environment.

Humidity also works to keep nasal passages moist, so that the tiny cilia that protect the respiratory system can move freely. This not only makes it more difficult to spread the virus, it also keeps sick people a little more comfortable.  In fact, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using a humidifier to make it easier for flu sufferers to breathe.

Whole-house humidification works by taking water from the home’s plumbing system and dispersing it as a moist water vapor, via a humidifier installed right in your HVAC system. While there are room size and portable humidifiers, whole-house humidification is the most effective way to control dryness. To keep the virus from spreading, a building’s humidity should be between 35 and 55 per cent. Higher humidity levels can lead to mold growth. Most whole-house humidification units have sensors to monitor the amount of humidity and keep it at just the right level.

For more information, contact Paschal Heat, Air & Geothermal. We can provide advice and help you find and install the perfect products to maintain humidity levels while keeping your home warm and cozy. We serve homeowners in northwest Arkansas.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Northwest Arkansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about whole-house humidification and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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