Choosing a humidifier: What you need to know
Do you need a humidifier?
To be comfortable, the humidity levels in your home should be around 50% in the summer and 30% in the winter. Use a hygrometer to measure your indoor humidity level. If the air is too dry, you may need a humidifier.
Benefits of using a humidifier
- Better air quality reduces the risk of developing colds, flus, sore throats, and dry eyes.
- Properly humidified rooms feel warmer and more comfortable.
- Humidifiers can help balance indoor temperature and moisture levels, allowing less reliance on expensive heating methods that could also negatively impact air quality.
- Adding moisture to the air can help you get a good night’s sleep by preventing your nasal passages from drying out. It could even reduce snoring.
- A humidifier can help prevent dry, flaking, itchy, or cracked skin.
Types of humidifiers
If you want to humidify your entire home, you could choose a whole house humidifier, which is connected to your HVAC and plumbing system. However, if cost is an issue, a portable humidifier is an inexpensive option you can use to humidify just 1 or 2 rooms, like a bedroom or office space.
There are 3 main types of portable humidifiers:
1. Vaporizers or warm-mist humidifiers
These units put moisture into the air by emitting a stream of hot mist using a heating element that boils water.
2. Ultrasonic humidifiers
This type of device uses high-frequency sound vibrations to produce a fine water mist.
3. Cool-mist humidifiers
A favourite for many Canadians, cool-mist humidifiers increase moisture levels in the air with a motor that forces water droplets into a fine mist, which is then dispersed into the air.
Using a humidifier safely
A humidifier can improve air quality, but it’s important to be aware of the risks.
Warm-mist humidifiers can cause burns if you get too close to the steam or if there is a spill from the hot water reservoir. Be especially careful if you have young children. Never leave a warm-mist humidifier in a child’s room at night.
Standing water in the humidifier’s reservoir can become a breeding ground for bacteria. If this is released into the air, it can cause health problems, especially for people who have asthma or allergies. To avoid problems, empty the reservoir between uses and wash and disinfect the water reservoir regularly
Too much humidity
If your humidifier isn’t set correctly, it can give out too much moisture, creating condensation on windows and walls that can lead to mould growth. Adjust the settings on your humidifier to get just the right amount of humidity in the air. Use a hygrometer to make sure the air is comfortably moist without becoming a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and mould.
A certain level of humidity is good for your home. Very dry air can cause wood floors to crack and paint to chip. Just be sure to keep your portable humidifier off the floor in your home or office to avoid damp patches that can warp wood floors and create mildew on carpets.
Follow these simple tips for choosing and maintaining your humidifier, and enjoy all the benefits of moist, breathable air in your home or office this winter.