Guide to Humidifiers

Dry eyes, nosebleeds and itchy skin are uncomfortable symptoms you may experience from dry air. As the seasons change and the air begins to turn cold, dryness starts to creep in. Adding moisture to your home or living space can help you breathe better and alleviate the discomfort that comes with dry air. Consider a humidifier as a simple, effective way to add moisture and keep your home more comfortable.

How Humidifiers Help Improve Your Environment

Humidifiers add moisture to your living space, alleviating many different problems associated with dry air. Consider these benefits of humidifiers.

Moisturize Your Skin, Lips and Eyes

In cold, dry air, your skin and lips may dry out. This dryness can inflame conditions like eczema, but may also irritate your skin even if you don’t have an underlying condition. A humidifier increases the moisture in the air, preventing your skin and lips from becoming flaky, itchy and irritated. Likewise, this additional moisture can help alleviate dry eye symptoms such as burning, itching and redness. 

Reduce the Spread of Germs

It is much easier for airborne germs to circulate through dry air. Why? Extra humidity in the air weighs the particles down, causing them to fall instead of traveling freely. By using a humidifier, you can make your household healthier by eliminating the spread of illness.

Protect Your Nose and Throat

As the weather gets colder and drier, vulnerable areas of your body like your nose and throat fall victim to the harsh conditions. The air passing through these sensitive areas can leave you with a scratchy, sore throat. Dry air can damage the hundreds of tiny blood vessels in your nose, causing uncomfortable nosebleeds. Snoring can also result from dry air passing through your airways. A humidifier can reduce all these adverse effects. 

Ease Illness Symptoms

Humidifiers are ideal for alleviating symptoms related to illness. Moisture in the air can loosen up a congested nose and ease a throat that may be sore from coughing. It will also help lower the risk of nosebleeds. 

Warm Your Home

Moist air tends to feel warmer than dry air. By adding humidity, you can feel more comfortable during the colder months and keep heating costs lower.

How to Know If You Need a Humidifier

If you experience the above symptoms or notice the air in your home is dry, it may be time to invest in a humidifier. There are several different types of humidifiers, so you’ll want to become an educated consumer and weigh various factors when choosing the best one for your home. How do humidifiers work? Read on to learn more about these appliances.

Cool Mist

Cool-mist humidifiers emit moisture without generating steam, making them a safer option to prevent burns in households with pets or young children. These humidifiers are most effective at reducing cough and cold symptoms, so they are an excellent consideration if you and your family need relief from the dry air.

Because cool-mist humidifiers do not have a heating element, bacteria and mold might grow in stagnant water. You should always follow manufacturer cleaning instructions and empty and dry humidifier sections to prevent organic compounds from growing in the tank and getting dispersed into the air.

There are two kinds of cool-mist humidifiers.

  • Ultrasonic: Ultrasonic humidifiers use high-frequency sound vibrations to disperse a fine water mist throughout a room and increase the moisture in the air. They are an ideal option for people who want to save money, because these humidifiers typically do not require a filter.
  • Evaporative: Evaporative humidifiers have a fan that blows air through a filter in the water in the base. This fan causes the water to evaporate, thus increasing the moisture. These are the more common type of cool mist humidifiers, but they have a filter that requires periodic replacement. The fan makes them a bit louder than ultrasonic humidifiers, but that may be a bonus for people desiring white noise.

Warm Mist

Unlike their cool-mist counterparts, warm-mist humidifiers require a heating element to push moisture into the air. Because of this, we don’t recommend using these if you have pets or children, and adults should take extra caution when using them to prevent burns. The advantage of warm-mist humidifiers is that they heat the tank of water, making bacteria and mold far less likely to occur.

Warm-mist humidifiers are also known as steam humidifiers or vaporizers. The water in a warm-mist vaporizer will evaporate much more quickly than in a cool-mist humidifier, so these are particularly beneficial if you need to drastically increase the humidity as quickly as possible. Steam vaporizers may not be helpful for those experiencing cold and cough symptoms because the added warmth could cause swelling in the nasal passages. If you need a humidifier for illness-related symptom relief, it is much better to use a cool-mist humidifier.

Whole-home Humidifiers

The humidifiers that are installed by Zimmerman Plumbing and Heating, Inc. are considered whole-home humidifiers since they utilize the duct work to distribute the moisture to the entire living space. The humidifier is installed in the duct near the indoor unit and relies on the fan from the furnace or air handler to move the humidity. Either the thermostat or a humidistat are used to sense the humidity in the air and adjust as needed.

No duct work? No problem. There are also steam humidifiers that can be installed as stand-alone systems to provide humidity to the whole home. Steam humidifiers are the most effective way to keep humidity at normal levels through the coldest winter days. These are especially important for individuals who have health concerns or homes/belongings with specific needs for humidity to stay in normal ranges.

When to Replace Your Humidifier

Like any other appliance, humidifiers are subject to damage and deterioration, so it’s critical to watch for signs you need to replace your humidifier. Some things to look out for include:

  • Deposits in the water tank or signs of mold
  • Lack of past maintenance on the machine
  • Age
  • Changes to the room where you are using the humidifier
  • Strange sounds or malfunctions

Buying a Humidifier

If you live in Harrisburg or anywhere else in Central Pennsylvania, consider investing in a humidifier to make your living space more comfortable. Winter is when you will rely on a humidifier to help protect your family and furnishings. For more information and to discuss all your HVAC needs, contact Zimmerman Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning today to request a free quote!