What Is a Home Humidifier and What Does it Do?

Room humidifier for respiratory issues
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A humidifier is an electric appliance that generates water mist or steam and releases it into the room where it's located. It can also release mist or steam throughout an entire home when a whole-house in-line humidifier is installed in the home's ductwork—a system that distributes airflow from heating and cooling systems throughout the home. Most people install a humidifier or use it as a form of therapy to add moisture to the air, prevent dryness and body irritation, and to ease cold and flu symptoms.

In regards to temperature, humidifiers can provide either a cool-mist or warm-mist depending on the function. These versatile items are sold in an array of models: compact, personal, portable, floor console, and whole-house. Of course, prices vary depending on style, features, and whether or not the humidifier has a built-in humidistat. The humidistat acts similarly to a thermostat, but it responds to relative humidity rather than how hot or cold it is in the room.​

How Humidifiers Improve Air Quality

A humidifier will greatly improve your environment's air quality and comfort by adding moisture to dry air. This can relieve issues like chapped lips, excessive coughing, static electricity, and cracking from forming in your wooden furniture or musical instruments. Air that is too dry can cause an array of additional problems, so it's good to have some added moisture.

However, excessive moisture can lead to health concerns, mildew, and other problems. Controlling the amount of humidity in a home is the best way to keep a proper balance of dryness and moisture in the air. The average relative humidity level that's recommended is somewhere between 35 and 45 percent. This range provides comfort and protection while preventing damage to your personal belongings. When the humidity is too high, moisture increases, which leads to mildew, condensation, and bacteria. On the other hand, during the winter air can get easily dry, so humidity should be added.

When to Use Dehumidifiers

A dehumidifier can help with allergies like dust mites, mold, and mildew. Most often, allergies like this create issues like a stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, sneezing, skin irritation, breathing difficulty, and more. Luckily, a dehumidifier can help reduce humidity levels which releases many allergens. They run quietly in the background and can even take away bad musty smells that are around. If you have water stains, poor ventilation, condensation, or mold and mildew issues, a dehumidifier can help get rid of them.

Which One to Buy

Knowing whether you need a humidifier or a dehumidifier comes down to functionality. If you need to remove moisture from a house that's too humid, you want a dehumidifier. If you have dry air in your home, you can have water released through a humidifier to add moisture. They both help with similar issues like asthma and chest congestion, but they function differently.

If you want both a humidifier and dehumidifier for indoor air quality, you can get a combo one that helps cut down on space. Brands like Ivation, Drevel, and Avalon offer combinations.