How Much Does a Whole-House Humidifier Cost to Install?
A whole-house humidifier can offer both wellness and financial benefits. The average whole-house humidifier cost is $575 for parts and installation, with a typical range of $395 to $753.
- Typical Range: $395 to $753
- National Average: $575
A whole-house humidifier can dramatically improve the level of moisture in a home’s air, making hot, dry days much more comfortable. A whole-house humidifier can also reduce allergies and congestion. One additional benefit is that people living in homes with whole-house humidifiers often sleep better, as they snore less and breathe better. All of this added comfort makes it simple to see that a whole-house humidifier is an investment that can improve a home’s resale appeal while making it a healthy environment in which to raise a family.
But just how much does a whole-house humidifier cost? According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, most homeowners pay an average cost of $575. This national average falls within a typical range of $395 to $753. There are several variables that affect the final cost of a whole-house humidifier, including the type of humidifier, the size of the home, and the location where the appliance is being installed.
This guide will discuss ways to estimate a home humidifier cost, tips for saving money on the installation, and the benefits of such an investment.
Factors in Calculating Whole-House Humidifier Cost
How much is a whole-home humidifier? It depends on a variety of factors, including the humidifier type, brand, heating system type, and size of the home. Labor costs and geographic location also play an important role in the cost for whole-home humidifier installation. When estimating their own cost, homeowners will want to keep all of the following variables in mind.
There are many different types of humidifiers. For the most part, homeowners can expect to pay between $100 and $1,300 for the humidifier alone. Installation costs vary greatly depending on the humidifier type, which can push the total cost to have a whole-house humidifier installed up quite a bit.
For example, a flow-through humidifier costs between $200 and $950 for materials and installation. A drum model is more affordable with a material and installation cost range of $100 to $300. A steam humidifier is the most expensive, as the installation can be quite complicated; the material and installation for this type of whole-house humidifier ranges between $500 and $2,200. A spray-mist model is the most affordable, because it can often be installed by a homeowner. It costs between $100 and $150.
Like all types of appliances, the best whole-house humidifier brands have a wide range of prices and types to choose from. Some are on the more affordable side, while others are more expensive. Lower-capacity models cost less in labor and parts, while high-capacity models are more complex and can cost more in labor with longer installation times.
For example, an Aprilaire humidifier costs between $130 and $1,000, or $200 to $1,900 installed. A Honeywell humidifier falls into a similar price range, costing between $150 and $400 for the unit or $250 to $1,300 installed.
Hamilton is considered a very affordable brand, with units costing between $150 and $200. Installed, each unit can run from $250 to $1,100. American Standard is on the higher end, with a unit costing between $300 and $1,100 on its own and between $400 and $2,000 once installed.
Heating System Type
Homes are heated using a variety of systems. Not every type of humidifier is compatible with every type of heating system. So depending on the type of HVAC system in a home, the best humidifier for it can influence the final whole-house humidifier installation cost.
Gas, oil, and propane forced-air furnaces are best matched with a flow-through humidifier. If mold is a concern, a steam model can be used instead. Electric furnaces are compatible with any type of humidifier, so homeowners can choose one that best fits their needs and budget.
Dual heating systems and heat pumps generally don’t need a humidifier. A heat pump works by pulling heat from outside the home and transferring it inside; that outside air is typically less dry than with other types of heating systems. But if dry air is an issue, a steam humidifier is generally recommended for both systems.
How much does a whole-home humidifier cost by home size? The answer is based on a couple of factors. First, a home’s square footage must be taken into account. Next, the base unit price must be considered. This tends to fall in line with a home’s square footage (e.g, a humidifier unit for a smaller home will cost less than a humidifier unit for a larger home). This is because larger homes will go through more gallons per day and need a unit that can keep up with higher demand.
A home with 1,000 to 2,000 square feet usually requires a 12-gallon unit, which costs between $150 and $280. The total cost for a house this size with installation is between $250 and $730. A 2,500- to 3,000-square-foot house requires a 17-gallon unit costing between $200 and $500, with a total installation cost between $300 and $1,400. Larger homes with square footage between 3,000 and 5,000 need an 18-gallon unit or larger, which typically costs between $250 and $1,100, with an all-in investment between $450 and $2,000.
On a separate note, not all homeowners may feel the need to address every area of their home with a humidifier. It’s possible to target part of the home or even a single room by choosing one of the best humidifiers for large rooms.
When it comes to installing a whole-house humidifier, labor costs are always part of the equation. But how a contractor comes up with such numbers depends on a few variables. For example, the type of humidifier being installed will affect the total labor cost. In most cases, steam humidifiers require additional wiring and plumbing and therefore come with a higher labor cost.
The cost of labor also depends on the type of professional handling the job. If a handyman service is tackling the install, it’s likely to cost less in labor than if an HVAC contractor does the job. There’s also ease of access to consider. If the installation location is tricky to reach, a professional is likely to charge more in labor.
Finally, a homeowner needs to consider the time of year a humidifier is being installed. Busy times, such as fall and winter, are likely to warrant a higher labor cost. Homeowners can save on labor by having a humidifier installed during a slower time of the year. All in all, homeowners can expect to pay between $100 and $900 in labor to add a humidifier to an HVAC system or furnace.
Installation location has an influence on a final whole-house humidifier cost. Not only does the location of an HVAC system impact the choice of humidifier, it also determines the complexity of the installation. Typically speaking, the more difficult the installation, the more a contractor will charge.
If the installation is in a basement, there’s likely plenty of room for the contractor to work. Ducts are generally easily accessible, and the job can be completed more quickly. But when the installation is in a closet or attic, space constraints are tighter, and the job will likely take more time and finesse.
If a homeowner is concerned about the location of their install, speaking to a contractor will help them estimate any associated labor costs and determine what type of humidifier will make the installation as easy and cost effective as possible.
Material and labor costs fluctuate by geographic location. In general, locations with a higher cost of living have higher labor costs. The opposite is true as well: Areas with a lower cost of living tend to have lower installation costs for whole-house humidifiers.
So how much is a home humidifier by location? Here are a few average numbers homeowners can refer to. Installing a humidifier is most affordable in Denver, Colorado, with an average cost of $502. Installation for a whole-house humidifier will range from $525 to $594 for homeowners in Seattle, Washington; San Diego, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; San Antonio, Texas; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Installing a humidifier in Washington, D.C., is more expensive, with an average cost of $643. Homeowners in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also pay more than much of the country for an installation at $741. Finally, homeowners in New York City pay the highest for a whole-house humidifier installation at $867.
Additional Costs and Considerations
The following additional costs and considerations associated with installing a whole-house humidifier are important for a homeowner to understand and keep in mind when estimating their own house humidifier cost.
Humidifiers don’t require a ton of maintenance, but it’s still an additional cost homeowners should keep in mind. All humidifiers should receive a maintenance check from a professional on an annual basis. This not only extends the life of the humidifier but can help spot serious issues like mold growth in the unit or ducts.
Typical annual maintenance costs between $75 and $200. If mold is suspected, testing costs around $600. If a maintenance check reveals potential issues within a home’s ductwork, a cleaning usually costs around $400.
Annual Running Costs
As with any other appliance, there’s a cost to consider when running a whole-house humidifier. The answer to how much depends on the subtype of the unit. Bypass systems rely on an HVAC system’s heat to work. These are incredibly affordable when it comes to running costs, adding up to a whopping energy bill of $1 to $3 per year.
Fan-powered units bypass a home’s ductwork and use an internal blower to move air throughout a home. They’re great for larger homes but have higher energy costs of between $9 and $28 per year to run. Finally, a steam-powered whole-house humidifier is the most expensive to run, with costs ranging from $150 to $480 per year.
The permit process ensures that all minimum safety requirements as well as local building and zoning requirements are met during the construction. While permits are part of all commercial jobs, they are not always the case with home improvement projects.
In fact, very few whole-house humidifier installations require permits. But when a circuit and wiring are being installed, a permit will likely be required. This can cost up to $125. Homeowners are advised to work with a contractor who will handle the permit process so that nothing is overlooked.
A humidistat is a small electronic device similar to a thermostat. But instead of measuring the temperature of a space, it measures the humidity level and responds appropriately. Not all humidifiers come with a humidistat, so they can be an additional cost for homeowners to keep in mind.
Adding a humidistat to a humidifier system can help a homeowner get the most out of their humidifier. On average, a humidistat costs between $30 and $150, with manual models at lower prices and automatic digital models at the higher end of the range.
Evaporative Pad Replacement
Most whole-house humidifiers use evaporative pads. They collect water, which is then heated enough that it evaporates and flows through a home’s ductwork to add moisture throughout the living spaces. It should be noted that spray-mist humidifiers do not require evaporative pads, so this isn’t a cost for all homeowners to consider.
Evaporative pads need to be replaced every 6 months to 1 year and cost between $70 and $100 for materials and installation. The more a humidifier is used, the faster a homeowner can expect to replace the evaporative pad.
Types of Whole-House Humidifiers
How much is a whole-house humidifier? The type plays a large role in the final cost. There are several different types of whole-house humidifiers, all with their own unique list of pros and cons. There’s no single best type of humidifier for every house, so homeowners will want to take the time to learn about their options and choose the one that best meets their needs.
Flow-through humidifier units use water to flow through an evaporator pad, which then creates humidity. The heat from the furnace triggers a valve that releases water. The water then flows through the pad and drains. This can add up to a lot more water waste than some other types of humidifiers. However, flow-through humidifiers are fairly low maintenance and just need periodic filter changes.
There are two subtypes of flow-through humidifiers: bypass and fan-powered. For either one, homeowners can expect to pay between $200 and $950 for both materials and installation with this popular humidifier type.
A drum in-house humidifier is the most affordable type. This system costs between $100 and $300 and includes multiple components, including a motor, belt, and reservoir of water. As the motor spins, water is lifted with a padded wheel and evaporates. Like flow-through models, drum humidifiers are divided into two subtypes: bypass and fan-powered.
Drum systems are simple to install, though they do come with an elevated risk for mold growth. Homeowners should also consider how much maintenance a unit requires when estimating the cost of home humidifier by type. Though not required, a whole-home air cleaner may be suggested for use in tandem with a drum humidifier to keep it clean and free from mold. This can tack on an additional $2,200 to an estimated cost of whole-home humidifier installation and maintenance.
Steam-powered whole-house humidifiers have a wide price range. Materials and installation can run between $500 and $2,200.
Steam humidifiers also cost more to run. Energy costs fall between $150 and $500 per year to run a steam humidifier, making them more than 14 times more expensive than other types of humidifiers. However, they tend to use less water than other types, and because they’re powered by steam, they help create a purified and hygienic breathing environment.
This type of humidifier works by monitoring a home’s moisture levels and kicking on when necessary to compensate for dry air. The water is heated in a reservoir before being released into the furnace, where it is dispersed through a home’s duct system.
One major benefit of spray-mist humidifiers is that homeowners can generally install them without the help of a professional. This makes them a more affordable option than others. The units themselves cost between $100 and $150, and most of the time a homeowner can get away without paying for labor.
Instead of relying on evaporative pads, a spray-mist humidifier relies on an existing heating and cooling system to get the work done. The HVAC system initiates a spray of moisture, which is then carried through the forced air and delivers moisture throughout the home’s duct system. Spray-mist humidifiers will not perform if the water supply has a high level of minerals.
Benefits of Installing a Whole-House Humidifier
The benefits of a whole-house humidifier are numerous and fall into several categories: health, comfort, and budget. This means that homeowners have a variety of reasons for installing a whole-house humidifier, including any of the following top perks.
Dry air can dry out nasal passages. Over time, this can lead to irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and mouth. If a resident of the home suffers from a respiratory illness, dry air can exacerbate the issue. Adding moisture to the air with a whole-house humidifier can make it easier to breathe and potentially reduce lung problems. Humidifiers can also relieve allergy symptoms and help loosen stubborn congestion. Additionally, air with moisture is linked to less snoring and a better night’s sleep, which improves overall health. Finally, whole-house humidifiers can also reduce the spread of germs. This can be especially helpful during the dry winter months where cold and flu viruses spread quickly as people spend more time indoors.
Humidifiers boost comfort in a few ways. With the increased moisture in the air, skin is able to absorb hydration naturally. This can relieve dry, cracked skin. It can also improve the appearance and feel of a person’s scalp, hair, and lips. Cracked skin and lips can both be uncomfortable side effects of cooler, drier months, but a humidifier can help prevent and cure these and other skin conditions. Additionally, extra moisture in the air helps keep a home warm, which can also boost comfort levels.
In addition to having negative effects on residents’ health, dry air can affect the finishes and furnishings inside a home. This is especially true for objects or decor made of wood, which can crack, shrink, or warp when the air is dry. Paper products can also be affected by low humidity. Photos, books, and posters can become brittle and begin to deteriorate in a dry environment. With the moisture added by a whole-house humidifier, furniture, wall coverings, family photos, treasured books, and decor made of renewable materials will be better protected and can last longer.
Reduced Heating Costs
Increasing the amount of moisture in the air can help a home feel warmer, even when temperatures are dropping outside. From a scientific perspective, low humidity can actually decrease the efficiency of a home’s heating system. Having a whole-house humidifier doesn’t mean homeowners can avoid the cost of replacing a furnace or go an entire winter without turning the furnace on (in fact, many humidifiers operate in tandem with the furnace), but it can mean that the furnace is able to run at a lower temperature and for less time. This can add up to substantial savings in energy costs, depending on the type of humidifier installed.
Decreased Static Electricity
Static electricity is an imbalance in the electric charges in a material. When a person rubs their shoe on the carpet (or whenever two objects made of different materials come in contact with each other), electrons are interchanged. Without moisture in the air, it becomes easier for objects to hold static charges until they can be released. This release typically happens when humans or pets come into contact with one another, creating the familiar feeling of a static shock. Running a whole-house humidifier adds moisture to the air. Water is a great conductor of electricity and allows electrically charged objects to relieve electric charges on a regular basis rather than in a sudden electrostatic discharge that humans can feel.
Whole-House Humidifier Installation: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Installing a whole-house humidifier can be an expensive investment. This is why some homeowners wonder if they can tackle the project on their own. Unfortunately, many homeowners may not have the skill required to complete this project themselves. While it certainly takes experience in HVAC systems, plumbing, and electrical to install a humidifier, it may also come down to legality. In certain scenarios, a homeowner can’t install a central humidifier on their own unless they’re a certified HVAC professional. There are a lot of technical elements to consider, so for safety purposes, DIY humidifier installations aren’t typically recommended, and in some cases they aren’t even allowed due to permitting requirements.
There are some whole-house humidifiers that are sold with installation kits. While these can get the job done, they’re often less powerful or less beneficial than more solid models. But depending on the unique needs of a home, a DIY humidifier installation can be more than enough for homeowners to enjoy the benefits of a humidifier.
There are savings to consider. If a homeowner is able to install their own whole-house humidifier, they can save as much as $400 in labor. But the time and risk involved may not be worth the savings, which is why it’s recommended that homeowners reach out to a professional when tackling a technical job like a humidifier installation. Additionally, those savings could be diminished if the homeowner installs the unit incorrectly and eventually needs to hire a professional to fix any installation issues.
At the end of the day, a homeowner needs to consider their family’s comfort and safety. If they don’t feel they are able to complete the task safely, they should call a professional to finish the installation. But for the savvy homeowner who wants to save a few bucks, a DIY humidifier installation isn’t out of the question.
How to Save Money on Whole-House Humidifier Cost
Installing a whole-house humidifier isn’t the most expensive home improvement project, but it’s also not the cheapest. This means there’s room for savings. Here are a few ways homeowners hoping to alleviate allergies, improve sleep, and create a safe and comfortable breathing environment can lower their whole-house humidifier cost.
- Get multiple quotes. Seek out at least three quotes from different professionals to ensure the homeowner is receiving a fair price.
- Choose the right model and size. A model that’s too small can result in higher energy costs, while one that’s too large can cost more upfront than necessary.
- Consider a DIY approach. Not all whole-house humidifiers can be installed by a homeowner, but when they can, doing a DIY installation is a great way to save on labor—as long as safety isn’t compromised for savings.
- Install during the off-season. Every geographic location has its own peak season for humidifier installation. Choosing an installation date that is less popular means less competition between contractors and more favorable labor costs for homeowners.
- Keep up with regular maintenance. Whole-house humidifiers need to be regularly cleaned and inspected. Receiving direction from a contractor during installation is the best way to make sure a maintenance schedule is understood and implemented from the start so that a humidifier can last as long as possible, saving on repair and replacement costs down the line.
Questions to Ask About Whole-House Humidifier Installation
Hiring an HVAC technician to install, inspect, maintain, or repair a humidifier can be an intimidating task. Choosing the right technician will ensure the job is done correctly, safely, and at a fair price. To make the selection process easier, homeowners can consider asking the appropriate combination of the following questions before, during, and after a whole-house humidifier installation.
- How long have you been in business?
- Are you licensed and insured?
- What brands of humidifiers do you sell and service?
- Do you offer free quotes?
- What’s included in the quoted price?
- Do you handle any necessary permits for the job?
- What size humidifier do I need?
- How efficient will the humidifier be?
- Do I need to upgrade my current air ducts?
- Are there any technological upgrades I can consider?
- Will my new humidifier come with any warranty or guarantees?
- What are your terms of payment?
- What type of prep work do I need to complete before the job begins?
- How long will the job take?
- How often will I need to clean my humidifier?
- What other maintenance tasks should I routinely perform?
- How long can I expect my humidifier to last?
Installing a whole-home humidifier for a home’s HVAC system can help alleviate allergies, improve sleep, and create a safe and comfortable breathing environment. The average cost of whole-house humidifier installation is $575, with the typical range of $395 to $753. There are multiple benefits to installing a whole-house humidifier, but here are a few common questions and answers to help the homeowner who is still on the fence about whether a humidifier is right for their home.
Q. Should I install a whole-house humidifier DIY or hire a professional?
Unless a homeowner is savvy with electrical, plumbing, and HVAC work, installing a whole-house humidifier is a job best left to the pros. Improper installation can damage a home’s HVAC system, which can be a pricey error to remedy. The job can also be dangerous for a novice. In addition, a poorly installed humidifier can raise heating and cooling bills, so it’s usually worth the added cost of hiring a professional.
Q. Where do I install a humidifier?
Not all whole-house humidifiers are installed using the same method. It depends on the brand’s unique design and requirements. A whole-house humidifier is often installed inside a home’s HVAC system. It can also be attached to the system by way of a hole and a mount. A whole-house humidifier usually connects to a home’s plumbing system and requires electricity to operate.
Q. Should I buy a drum or flow-through whole-house humidifier?
Because both a drum and a flow-through whole-house humidifier have unique operation methods and installation requirements, the answer really depends on a homeowner’s needs and preferences. Flow-through systems are a bit pricier but also require less maintenance. Drum humidifiers are more efficient but more prone to mineral and bacteria buildup. Homeowners are advised to seek advice from a professional to see which model best suits their home’s unique needs and layout.
Q. How much does it cost to run a humidifier?
It costs between $10 and $500 per year to run a whole-house humidifier. The exact cost depends on the type of humidifier chosen. A bypass humidifier costs only $1 to $3 in energy per year, while a fan-powered model costs about $9 to $28. Finally, a steam-powered humidifier costs between $150 and $480 to run annually, making it the most expensive option.
Q. How long does a whole-house humidifier last, and when do I have to replace it?
Depending on how well it’s maintained and the quality of water used during operation, a humidifier will last between 10 and 15 years. Homeowners may want to consider replacing a humidifier that’s been in operation for 10 years or more or hasn’t had regular cleaning or maintenance; another porential time for replacement is when the layout of a home has changed drastically enough that the unit can no longer meet demand.
Q. Who installs and services humidifiers?
In most cases, an HVAC technician handles installations, annual maintenance, and repairs for humidifiers. In some scenarios, a plumber or electrician may be needed to tackle a repair or tricky install.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, HomeGuide, Costimates, HowMuch.net