How Much Does It Cost to Install a Whole-House Humidifier?

by Team eLocal

Your furnace and air conditioner can make your home a much more comfortable place to hang out, but they can also dry out the air. Low indoor air humidity can cause dry skin and lips, and it can also cause the materials inside your home to crack or warp.

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A whole-house humidifier solves the problem of dry air and can even help prevent the spread of airborne viruses — so installing one might be a good investment.

What's a Whole-House Humidifier?

Whole-house humidifiers, also known as central humidifying systems or furnace humidifiers, moisten the air inside your home by adding water vapor. Most humidifiers pass air over a water pad to add water vapor, but some generate steam instead. The humidifying unit connects to your home's duct system, and a fan pushes moistened air through the ducts into every room inside your house.

Many whole-house humidifiers have a humidistat. A humidistat works a little like a thermostat, except it controls the air's moisture level instead of the temperature. It monitors the amount of water in the air and allows you to adjust the humidity levels to suit your preference.

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Whole-House Humidifiers: By Type

Bypass Humidifiers

Bypass humidifiers are usually the easiest and cheapest to maintain, although they take up more space than most other types of whole-house humidifiers. You can install a bypass humidifier on your furnace's air return duct, and the furnace fan forces the air through the humidifier unit to moisten it. The warm, humid air then passes through the heat ducts and into your living space.

Fan Humidifiers

Fan humidifiers work similarly to bypass humidifiers. However, these humidifiers have their own fans that add water vapor to heated air as it enters your heating ducts. Therefore, they're more efficient than bypass humidifiers and are more effective at humidifying larger-than-average homes.

Steam Humidifiers

Steam humidifiers boil water to produce steam, which passes into the ducts to add water vapor to the air. Generally, steam humidifiers are costly to purchase, install and maintain. However, they're exceptionally efficient and can humidify very large spaces.

How Much Does a Whole-House Humidifier Cost?

According to Bob Vila, installing a whole-house humidifier costs $575 (CAD 770) on average, with most homeowners spending between $395 and $753 (CAD 530 and 1,010). These figures include the cost of the unit itself and installation labor.

The type of humidifier can significantly impact your project costs. You can purchase and install a basic bypass humidifier for between $100 and $300 (CAD 135 and CAD 400). Meanwhile, installing a whole-house steam humidifier could cost between $500 and $2,200 (CAD 670 and CAD 2,950).

You should also consider your home's size when estimating your budget. Larger homes require a more powerful unit — the larger the unit, the more you'll pay. For example, a 12-gallon unit for a home measuring between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet typically costs between $250 and $730 (CAD 335 and CAD 980) installed. On the other hand, an 18-gallon unit for a home measuring between 3,000 and 5,000 square feet could set you back as much as $2,000 (CAD 2,680).

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How Much Does Installation Cost?

The labor cost to install a whole-house humidifier depends on several variables. Hiring a handyman is usually cheaper than a contractor, although you may need a contractor for complex installations. Installers typically charge higher rates for steam humidifier installation because it involves electrical and plumbing work.

You could pay more for whole-house humidifier installation if you want it installed in an inaccessible location or if you live in a place with higher costs of living. Overall, you should expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $900 (CAD 135 and CAD 1,200) in labor fees, excluding the cost of the unit and materials.

What Other Costs Are Involved in the Project?

You won't usually need a permit to install a whole-house humidifier. However, you may require one if your contractor installs new wiring to accommodate your humidifier. Permits for this type of project usually cost $125 (CAD 170) or less, although prices can vary by jurisdiction.

Most modern whole-house humidifiers feature an integrated humidistat. However, you may need to purchase one separately if your humidifier doesn't include it. You can install and use a whole-house humidifier without a humidistat, but it can make monitoring and adjusting the humidity levels inside your home more challenging. Most humidistats cost between $30 and $150 (CAD 40 and CAD 200).

All CAD conversions are based on the exchange rate on the date of publication.

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