The Boiler Room Blog

Advice on commercial water heater selection, maintenance and safety issues for businesses that rely on a steady supply of hot water.

Winter’s Wrath: Dry Air

dry air

Understanding how to manage dry air ensures you and your guests can remain healthy and happy.

For as beautiful as winter months in the Midwest are, there are a few pitfalls to the season. While we’re all aware that the cold weather outside can be frightful, inside where it’s warm and cozy has its drawbacks as well, primarily dry air.

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Humidity is the key to keeping a home warm, but not dry. In short, humidity is the amount of water content in the air surrounding us. High humidity means the air is saturated with water, while low humidity means that the air is nearly devoid of water. Temperature and location affect humidity as well, so during the colder months, the air has a low humidity level, resulting in dry air.

Winter's dry air does damage to your skin! Here's how to recover. Low humidity in winter causes our skin to dry out, making it cracked and broken. It chaps our lips, wreaks havoc on our hair, and can make it painful to breathe. Dry air is behind this discomfort, but more concerning than discomfort is our increased susceptibility to illness.

Skin is the body’s largest organ and it serves vital and rather amazing functions. Healthy skin protects us from getting sick because it insulates our internal body from all the nasty germs, bacteria and allergens floating around. Ever wonder why people seem to get sick more frequently during the colder months? A big contributor to this is lowered immunity due to dry air.

Understanding how to manage dry air ensures you and your guests can remain healthy and happy.

Humidifiers & Hard Water

The last thing you want is your guests or tenants associating your building with uncomfortable, irritated skin—especially when this problem is easily avoided by installing a humidifier to increase the humidity level in the air. Proper air moisture levels also protect the wood furnishings in your building by reducing the risk of the wood cracking and warping from low humidity exposure.

To further complicate the issue, naturally drier air during the colder months also aggravates issues that arise with hard water. One of biggest problems with hard water in the winter is that it dries out and damages skin. With or without proper air humidity levels, in the winter, hard water amplifies the effects of dry air on our skin. Showering in hard water, then drying off in a low humidity environment is one of the worst things you can do to already irritated and dry skin; it can actually accelerate existing skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.

So while maintaining the correct humidity levels of your hotel or apartment building is important, don’t forget about your water softener. To maintain consistently soft water, it’s best to keep your salt level at least half-full at all times, without overfilling. Don’t have a softener? You should look into getting one – there are many benefits to softer water. If you’re unsure of how hard your water is to start, or if you have a softener and want to ensure it’s functioning properly, you can pick up a water test from your local hardware store. To determine where your results fall, check with your local city resources for an average. Soft water has zero grains of hardness (measured in Grains per Gallon or GPG), which can only be achieved by using a softening system; any number above zero would technically be hard water, but 10 GPG and above is considered very hard water and should be softened.

Hard water can also seriously damage your water heater and requires more energy to heat, so it’s important to be conscious of the age and efficiency of your water heater, especially if you don’t have a softening system in place yet. If you’re using an older model, or even a standard model, it might be time to invest in a new water heater; the switch to a high-efficiency water heater will save you a lot of money in the long term.

Keep Winter’s Bite at Bay

Since we can’t control the atmosphere outside, we figured out how to control the atmosphere inside. Staying on top of your water softener maintenance is the easy part. Finding a good central humidifier is a simple solution to guarantee improvements to the air quality in your hotel or apartment building. Increasing the comfort level of your guests and tenants is good business practice, and will likely gain your business positive reviews and build your reputation in the community.

Image “Before Sunrise…” courtesy of Flickr user Dimitry B licensed under CC by 2.0. Featured image courtesy of Langll – licensed under CC Public Domain.

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