Why walking around your home generates static sparks




Sparks are a sign of a static electric charge build-up and can be generated in a home when humidity levels are low. An easy way to reduce or eliminate annoying static build-up, is to adjust the humidity level in your home using your humidistat or humidifier control. These controls have numbers on the faceplate which correspond to their percentage of humidity that is present in your home. If you’re experiencing a lot of static discharge, try increasing the humidity level by 5-10% at a time to see if this solves your issue, and adjust accordingly from there. It might take a couple of days to get it right, but typically you should find a noticeable and comfortable difference.

An interesting fact to consider, a home at 22 C degrees and 50% humidity feels much warmer than a home at 22 degrees C and 25% humidity. When a home is properly humidified in the winter, you may find yourself setting your thermostat a degree or two lower than if you didn’t have a humidifier. This can save you on your heating costs! Make sure that the humidifier you get installed is sized properly. There are small bypass and large bypass humidifiers which support homes up to about 3000 square feet. We recommend fan power humidifiers, which perform much better than bypass humidifiers. They pull heated air off your supply plenum, add water, and push it back into the airstream. Since they are adding water to heated air, the air can absorb more moisture. Conversely, a bypass humidifier takes cold air off the return air plenum, adds some water, and inserts it into the hot supply airstream. They are not as effective at delivering humidity as fan-powered humidifiers. If your home has a ton of hardwood, is over 3000 square feet or tends to be quite dry in the winter, you might consider installing a steam humidifier. The price is higher, and there are cartridges that must be changed; but they do a very good job maintaining humidity levels during the cold, dry winter months.

Humidity levels can take up to 24 hours to take effect, so when changing the dial, results will not be instantaneous. The good news is that increasing humidity in your home slightly to combat static electric will reduce the chance of generating an electric discharge which can potentially harm electronics such as computers, TV’s, cell phones, etc.

Be aware however, that in the winter as outdoor temperatures drop and exterior air gets drier, you will have to adjust your indoor humidity to compensate. Typically, you will have to decrease indoor humidity to a lower percentage as appropriate, so you don’t experience window fogging when it’s bitterly cold outside. Typical recommended winter indoor home humidity varies from roughly 30-45%, and are highly dependent upon many factors such as:

  • The amount of cooking done each day in the home
  • The number of showers taken each day
  • The specifications of your range hood and bathroom fans
  • The amount of plants and other organic materials that need moisture to survive
  • The quality of your windows/doors and their seals
  • Frequency and duration which doors and windows are opened/closed
  • Performance, type and age of your home’s humidifier

If you are experiencing significant static in your home that you can’t control, it could be a sign of a more significant issue, so please contact an Waterloo Energy Products for more details. We will perform an inspection and assessment of your equipment to determine how we can help you get that static issue under control.

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