Do you find your house too damp in the summer and too dry in the winter? Call Scott-Lee Heating Company at (314) 756-9444 to learn more about choosing the right humidifier for your home!
Humidity levels drop during the winter months because cold air holds less moisture than warm air. As a result of dry air, you may experience a number of problems in the winter months, including:
- dry skin and/or an itchy throat
- nasal congestion resulting in cold or flu
- static electricity
- wallpaper peeling at the edges
- hardwood floors separating out at the seams
- difficulty in growing houseplants
Your home should have a relative humidity level of 30-60 percent, depending on what time of the year it is. In winter, the use of heating systems can reduce the humidity by over 30-40 percent. On the other hand, in summer the humidity may be as high as 60 percent. If the relative humidity is below 30, you may want to invest in a humidifier to keep your family comfortable; however, if it touches 60 or more, you need a dehumidifier. You may need both a humidifier and dehumidifier and use them according to the seasons.
How Indoor Humidity Affects Your Health
Extremes of relative humidity in the atmosphere can affect your health adversely. If the air inside your home is dry, you may experience dry skin and other types of dermatitis such as peeling, itchy skin, or chapped lips. These may be the first signs that you need to invest in a humidifier. Other health problems caused by dry air include dry sinuses, congestion, nosebleeds, a persistent cough, and sore throat.
If the air is too moist, it can aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms. Your air conditioning system can sufficiently humidify the air; however, you may need a dehumidifier during spring and fall when you are not operating your air conditioner.
How Indoor Humidity Affects Your Home
When the indoor air is too dry, wood, leather, and other natural materials inside your home may be affected. Use a humidifier to maintain relative humidity at 40 percent and to prevent cracking of musical instruments and leather furniture. It will also prevent loosening of wooden frames and windowpanes.
If the air is too moist, it can promote the growth of mold and mildew, especially in poorly vented places such as showers, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and areas under the sink. You may notice window condensation, wet stains, and a musty smell in the house, indicating that you need a dehumidifier.
Type of Humidifiers
You’ll find humidifiers in a wide variety of shapes and designs, including furnace/heat pump mounted units, floor models, and table models. Furnace/heat pump mounted units work as by-pass, steam, wick, mist, and powered. You can mount some of these models to the duct or attach some of them to the furnace or heat pump. You can easily install a humidifier while replacing your furnace. It is also possible to have one installed to your existing heating system. It is important to make sure that the humidity level does not exceed a certain limit. Some signs of high humidity levels include excessive fogging, mold growth, and moisture build-up.
Consider having a flow-through humidifier installed in your home. This type of humidifier is less prone to mineral, mold, and bacteria buildup, because the water constantly flows through the system. This also helps achieve even distribution of moisture throughout the house.
Warm Moist Air and Cool Moist Air Humidifiers
Warm air humidifiers work by heating the water. This type of humidifier consumes more electricity and may make the air unpleasantly warm and humid. In comparison, cool air humidifiers do not require heating the water. They consume less electricity, humidify a larger area, and do not make the air feel unpleasantly warm and humid. However, cool air humidifiers may produce a louder noise than warm moist air humidifiers.
Two types of warm air humidifiers are available in the market. Steam humidifiers work by boiling water and thus releasing steam in the air. This type kills the bacteria and mold while boiling the water, but carries the risk of burns. If you have kids in your family, you may want to avoid using steam humidifiers. Alternatively, you can use warm mist humidifiers.
Cool Air Humidifiers
- Evaporation wick – This type of humidifier uses a filter to soak up water, which is then evaporated by a fan. This helps increase the humidity level in the air. Once the humidity level reaches a certain point, the evaporation rate slows down naturally.
- Impeller – This type works by running a spinning disk in the water. The process does not produce as much noise as an evaporation wick produces.
- Ultrasonic – This type uses ultrasonic sound waves to vibrate the water and thus helps increase moisture in the air. Ultrasonic humidifiers operate silently and are highly efficient.
Choosing a Dehumidifier or Humidifier
It is important to choose a humidifier that is the right size for the space where you plan to use it. There are various types of humidifiers available in the market including tower, tabletop, console, and whole house humidifiers. Whole house humidifiers are integrated with your HVAC system. You can also choose between hot mist and cool mist models. When choosing a dehumidifier, consider the capacity. You can choose between a portable and a whole house dehumidifier. Do not forget to check the safety listing before you purchase a humidifier or dehumidifier.