We have all been there and experienced that really dry feeling in the dead of winter. During home inspections I often come across humidifiers which are attached to the HVAC(furnace).
Unfortunately during my home inspections I usually see units that are unmaintained like the one pictured below. This is a picture of a hvac humidifier taken during a home inspection in Niagara Falls Ontario.
Being unsightly and calcified is the least of our worries. The way these systems work is that air leaving your furnace passes over this wet sponge. Sometimes it is not a sponge, sometimes it is water running down a mesh plate. Either way this water has been left standing all summer. There are bacteria and moulds that are growing in here so when the furnace or central air is turned on, all the air your home will pass over this mess!
Things like legionnaires’ disease, a type of pneumonia, is caused by bacteria called Legionella, find this a great place to grow among other things.
Personally I just put up with a little dryness in the winter and don’t use a humidifier. However if you have one of these I encourage you to inspect and maintain it, or have it disconnected.
Here is a great video that goes over some maintenance tips for your humidifier. This humidifier is different then the one I have shown you above, however the same idea applies, keep it clean and follow manufactures suggestions.
During a home inspection this is one of the many things that we look at to make sure your home is safe and reliable for you.