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Old 2018-11-20, 08:07 AM
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canabiz canabiz is offline
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Default Humidity level in 3-story home

Does anyone here own a 3-story home (or used to)? If so, how do you manage the humidity level in your home in the winter?

We are living in 1, the furnace and the HRV are on the main floor while our bedrooms are on the 3rd floor and it is super dry. We keep the temperature at 21 degrees and the hygrometer shows humidity level around 30% on the 3rd floor (similar number for 2nd floor as well), I thought that is quite low and would like to bring it to at least 45% or so.

Should we get a portable humidifier for the bedrooms? It's my first time owning/using a HRV and based on my limited research, it's supposed to act as humidifier as well, I will have to inspect it tonight to see if there's any setting there I can adjust.

Appreciate any insight you guys may have.
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Old 2018-11-20, 11:06 AM
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The HRV is definitely not a humidifier. It simply brings in fresh air from the outside and transfers some of the heat from the outgoing air to the incoming air. In the winter the incoming air is cold. When cold air is heated the relative humidity in it is reduced so the already dry air is made even drier! The HRV actually dries out your home.

You will need to buy some sort of humidifier to help increase your humidity levels. Keep in mind though that 45% humidity will probably result in condensation on your windows on cold days.

One thing to note is that an ERV is similar to an HRV but with a different type of core and in addition to transferring heat it also transfers humidity from the outgoing air to the incoming air. An ERV is really better suited to our environment. You can buy ERV cores for some HRVs which effectively convert them into ERVs. So that could may be be an option but you would probably still need a humidifier. We have an ERV and still run a humidifier all winter.
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Old 2018-11-20, 12:18 PM
HMBTUX HMBTUX is offline
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45% will get you LOTS of condensation on windows and ice etc if you're in a newer home that is airtight like most these days. Last year we turned off the central humidifier on furnace and it was incredible how much difference we noticed. We started at about 38-40% RH and it settled down around 33-35%. Not a huge drop but the difference was just crazy.
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Old 2018-11-20, 01:58 PM
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Yes, it's tough figuring out what relative humidity level is best. Both you and your home are most happy when it is close to 45%. Sometimes you will required to keep it near there for things like hardwood warranties (people should consider engineered hardwood which is much more tolerant of lower relative humidity levels). We had a son who used to get lots of bloody noses in the winter if it was much lower than 45%. But 45% will end up with lots of condensation on your windows.

One other thing to consider is that the higher the relative humidity the warmer it feels in your home. So if you do drop it you may have to raise your home's temperature to make it feel as warm.
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Old 2018-11-20, 08:17 PM
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cannabiz what are the rh levels on the other 2 floors?
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Old 2018-11-29, 12:48 PM
OttawaG OttawaG is offline
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My parents live in one, new built, this is their second winter. There is no HRV system & no central humidifier while my house has both, I guess because my house is single family home......
They don't have the traditional furnace, they have this heat exchanger unit & it didn't come with an option of central humidifier. Very low humidity has been an issue in winter & they use portable humidifier but its a hassle when they travel for prolonged period, no one to fill water in the humidifier & turn it off & on. I had brought this up with the builder right in the beginning but no reply. And I'm told there is no way to install a central humidifier either.
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Old 2018-11-29, 12:58 PM
electricsky electricsky is offline
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You need a bypass humidifier for your HVAC system that will humidify your entire house.
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Old 2018-12-01, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by good2know View Post
cannabiz what are the rh levels on the other 2 floors?
G2K, the RH level on the main floor where we have the furnace is around 40%. The RH level on the 3rd floor is more or less the same as the level on 2nd floor, hovering around the 30% mark.

I do notice the main floor is colder than the 2nd and 3rd, which is not the end of the world as our bedrooms and living areas are on the top floors anyway.

This is our 1st time living in a 3-story home and it has been an interesting experience so far.
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Old 2018-12-03, 11:12 AM
Halton Home Inspector Halton Home Inspector is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canabiz View Post
Does anyone here own a 3-story home (or used to)? If so, how do you manage the humidity level in your home in the winter?

We are living in 1, the furnace and the HRV are on the main floor while our bedrooms are on the 3rd floor and it is super dry. We keep the temperature at 21 degrees and the hygrometer shows humidity level around 30% on the 3rd floor (similar number for 2nd floor as well), I thought that is quite low and would like to bring it to at least 45% or so.

Should we get a portable humidifier for the bedrooms? It's my first time owning/using a HRV and based on my limited research, it's supposed to act as humidifier as well, I will have to inspect it tonight to see if there's any setting there I can adjust.

Appreciate any insight you guys may have.
Humidity comfort purely depends on the individual. Some people want, need, or feel they need higher humidity while others could care less.

Yes, when it is cold out the HRV does remove humidity from the home while in the summer it will bring humidity into the home.

Note that many hygrometers are not very accurate and it would be interesting for you to put both beside each other in the same room to see if they are reading the same level of humidity.

Yes, there are portable humidifiers that lots of people buy and leave in bedrooms for more comfortable sleeping.

It might be a good idea to locate your exterior laundry dryer exhaust vent and with the dryer ON make sure it is venting properly to the exterior of the home. A screened vent will clog and screens are not permitted in dryer vents*. Also make sure the dryer vent is not completely missing / covered over with brick or other siding. Missing exhaust vents is not an uncommon issue these days in new homes.

I have inspected at least a couple hundred 3 story towns and can't recall humidity problems but then again I don't get into that. Most problems with comfort are as mentioned, cool or cold first floors, especially when the high velocity type systems are used.

*Code Rule 9.32.3.12. Outdoor Intake and Exhaust Openings - (10) EXCEPT for clothes dryers, exhaust outlets shall be fitted with screens of mesh not larger than 15 mm, except where climatic conditions may require larger openings.
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Last edited by Halton Home Inspector; 2018-12-03 at 05:10 PM.
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