The purpose of humidifiers and dehumidifiers is to control and maintain specific levels of humidity inside your home. The job of a humidifier is to add moisture to the air, while a dehumidifier removes it.
What humidity level should my home have?
According to Energy Star, your home’s indoor humidity levels should be between 30%-50%. Anything lower/higher than this amount could cause everything from serious health problems to dangerous mold and bacterial growth. So, if the humidity level inside your home is less than 30%, a humidifier will add necessary moisture to the air. If the level is over 50%, a dehumidifier will remove the excess moisture to help keep your home safe and comfortable.
These appliances are generally used during the heating season when it’s cold outside. When you’re running your heating system throughout the day, it can make the air inside your home very dry. Dry air can lead to dry skin, irritated nasal passages, sore throats, general discomfort, and a variety of other health issues.
There are several types of humidifiers available, including cool mist, warm mist, and whole-home systems.
Cool mist humidifiers filter out impurities from the air and release, as their name suggests, a cool mist. They can be used in larger spaces, but are often fairly noisy. They require routine cleaning as their filters need to be changed to prevent mold and bacteria build-up.
Warm mist humidifiers are often used to help relieve symptoms of a cold or flu. The warm mist is often soothing to individuals with irritated nasal passages, sinus problems, sore throats, and headaches. These units are great for small spaces, such as a bedroom when you’re not feeling well and trying to sleep!
Whole-home humidifiers are typically used to add moisture to the air on an entire floor of a home. If you have multiple levels, it’s recommended for you to have a whole-home humidifier for each floor – understandably, it seems misleading since the name is “whole-home” humidifier, but these units tend to be able to handle only one level at a time.
They generally come with larger tanks, meaning they will not be portable from room to room. However, because of their size, they require a little more maintenance than the other types of humidifiers. It’s recommended that you clean the tanks at least once a week during use.
Often, these devices are used during the cooling season when it’s hot outside. There are two main types of dehumidifiers – refrigerant and desiccant.
Refrigerant dehumidifiers work by passing moisture-filled air over a chilled evaporator coil. This helps to lower the temperature of the air. The condensation that forms on the coil is collected in a pan. The pan will either need to be emptied by hand or will be removed from the home by a special hose, depending on which model you have installed. The dried air is pushed over a warm coil, where it’s then pushed back into the room.
Desiccant dehumidifiers work by pushing air through a wheel with a moisture-absorbent material, often a silica gel. After moisture has been removed from the air, it’s blown back into the room. The water collected from the wheel is heated, and the vapor is pushed out of the home via a duct system.
Which device is right for your home?
You’ll likely need both a humidifier and a dehumidifier in your home if you live in an area that experiences both cold and hot seasons. You will be able to use the humidifier during the colder months to help with adding humidity to the air, and you’ll be able to use the dehumidifier during the warmer months to remove excess moisture from the air and create a more comfortable living space.
If you’re living in an area that doesn’t have extreme seasons, you will need to determine your home’s average humidity level. Once you know this, you will be able to figure out whether you need to remove excess moisture from the air, or add it in.