How Does A Humidifier Work?

by Véronique Raymond
humidifier review

Whether you own a humidifier already or you are interested in purchasing one sometime soon and have just started browsing Amazon, it is a good idea to understand how they work and what benefits they bring to you and your home.

Every humidifier uses a water tank and some sort of mechanism to create water droplets that are then released and circulated into the air; the exact functionality will vary based on the type of humidifier though, so we’ll take a look at each type on its own.


Why Do Indoor Humidity Levels Matter?

Indoor humidity levels have a pretty significant effect on the comfort of your home. Improper humidity levels can affect the structural integrity and appearance of your home and decor items and have effects on your health.

Skewed humidity levels in the home can be compounded by the outdoor weather, which is why humidifiers are most often needed in the winter and dehumidifiers in the summer.

However, you may suffer from high or low humidity at any time of the year.

The EPA recommends maintaining indoor humidity between 30 and 50 percent, so you may need one or both machines.


Benefits Of Humidifiers

humidifier review

There are a number of benefits to putting a humidifier in your home.

Not only does raising the relative humidity improve health problems caused by dry air, but it can actually have some benefits to your home as well.

Let’s investigate.

Alleviate Dry Skin, Nosebleeds, and Sinus Congestion

Many minor but inconvenient health problems, like dry skin, frequent nosebleeds, or recurring congestion in your sinuses can all be attributed to low humidity in your home.

The fine mist produced by a humidifier can help add moisture to your skin and mucosal membranes to reduce the occurrence of these uncomfortable conditions.

Reduce Levels of Static Electricity

One of the most and uncomfortable signs of low humidity in your home is static electricity.

If you find yourself receiving a shock when you touch a light fixture or notice static in your blankets, the problem is low moisture in the air.

A humidifier will increase the amount of water vapor in the air to eliminate the presence of static electricity.

Extend Longevity of Furniture and Wood

Low humidity in your home can actually cause your wood floors and panelling to crack, and your furniture may age faster as well.

Proper moisture levels in the air are essential to maintaining the quality of your decor and structural elements inside the home.

A humidifier may be just the thing you need to bring your home back to life.

Increase Efficiency of Air Conditioner/Full HVAC System

This is one of the lesser known benefits of a humidifier, but it can actually help your air conditioning or heating unit run more smoothly.

Humidifiers are more useful in the winter, but some people need them year-round. Improving humidity levels in your home will make it easier for your HVAC system to keep the indoor air at the right temperature; the decision to purchase a cool mist vs warm mist humidifier may be affected by its ability to heat the air or not.

Can Function As Diffusers

Most portable home humidifiers have diffusers built in that can allow your machine to double as aromatherapy machines.

If essential oils help you relax, focus, or just enjoy your home more, it won’t take much to find a humidifier that can also fill this role.


Warm Mist Humidifiers Vs Cool Mist Humidifiers

humidifier review

Humidifiers can be separated into two main categories, warm mist and cool mist humidifiers.

The main type of warm mist humidifier now on the market is steam humidifiers, and they use a tank of boiling water to create steam that is then released into the air.

These humidifiers add both warmth and moisture to the air.

They are more affordable than other types of humidifiers and are quite adept at reducing bacteria growth in the home.

However, due to the extreme temperature of the water and the warmer steam, they are more dangerous to pets, children, clumsy adults, and furniture if they were to be knocked over and spill.

Cool mist humidifiers are safer for the home and the people/animals that live there.

They come in a variety of models, the most popular being impeller, evaporative, and ultrasonic humidifiers.

Cool mist humidifiers will be more expensive than their warm mist counterparts, but they are great for use all year round and are also more energy efficient.


Different Types Of Humidifiers & How They Work

humidifier review

Every type of humidifier on the market will function in a slightly different way.

Each type has its own pros and cons as well, so it is a good idea to do your research before you commit to one type over another.

Ultrasonic Humidifier

Ultrasonic humidifiers are the most expensive type on the market, but they are incredibly efficient and near silent.

They make use of high-frequency vibrations that turn water into vapor, which is then emitted into the surrounding space.

These models usually have antibacterial filters to keep the water clean, and some models are even advanced enough to switch between warm and cool mist to suit every season.

Steam Humidifier (aka Steam Vaporizer)

Steam humidifiers are the original type and are still very popular today.

They add humidity to a home faster than any other model type and do a great job warming the air during the winter months.

They boil water in a tank to produce steam that circulates into the room; as a result, there is an element of risk, and they are quite inefficient with their energy usage.

Due to the boiling process, steam vaporizers also purify the air before it circulates; this type is an excellent choice for folks that don’t want to purchase distilled water.

Evaporative Humidifier

Evaporative humidifiers are unique in that they use the air of your home instead of water from a tank to add humidity.

Evaporative humidifiers pull air in from the surrounding room and send it through a wet cloth/filter called a wick.

The wick adds moisture to the air as it passes through, and then the air is released back into the room.

These humidifiers are very low maintenance and will only require occasional filter changes.

They are quite noisy, though, so aren’t ideal for bedrooms.

Impeller Humidifier

Impeller humidifiers use a rotating blade to throw water against a diffuser.

The diffuser breaks the water into tiny droplets that are then emitted as a fine mist into your home.

This method of humidification is very quiet, and since they are a cool mist humidifier, they are very properly choices for homes with small children; they are safe and cause minimal disruption overnight.

Whole House Humidifier

A whole house humidifier is one that is built right into your HVAC system.

It is the only type of humidifier that can effectively raise the humidity evenly throughout your entire home, rather than needing to be moved around.

This is a much more expensive and permanent option when compared to standard portable humidifiers, but worth the investment if you constantly struggle with low humidity.

These humidifiers use a rotating belt that moves through a tray of water and then evaporates into your return ducts.

This moisture-heavy air is then distributed throughout the home.


How To Maintain Your Humidifier Top-Tier Functioning

humidifier review

  1. Only leave it plugged in when you are actively using it. This will ensure you don’t wear out any heating elements and will preserve its energy-efficiency.
  2. Clean it regularly. Maintaining a weekly cleaning schedule will prevent mineral deposits from building up and affecting the air quality. You’ll also be able to prevent mold growth and ensure that the humidification of your home does not also introduce contaminants.
  3. Use distilled water rather than tap water. Tap water is hard water, meaning it contains various minerals, and these minerals can build up and affect functionality. Using distilled water will prevent white dust from forming and will reduce the frequency at which you need to clean the humidifier.
  4. Use a model that has a humidistat. Some humidifiers only have a hygrometer built in, meaning they can display the humidity level but cannot regulate it. These simpler machines rely on you to turn them on and off accordingly. This can result in high humidity if you forget to turn it off and will also wear out the machine faster. Models with humidistats can self-regulate and therefore be more efficient and prevent creating an environment that encourages mildew and dust mite growth.


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