Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers, Demystified

You use a heater to warm your home in the winter. You have an air conditioner to cool your home in the summer. But have you thought about humidifiers or dehumidifiers?

Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. Ideal in-home humidity levels should hover around 45 percent. Anything under 30 percent is too dry. Over 50 percent is too high.

What can you do if your home’s humidity is outside the sweet spot? The answer is simple: bring in a humidifier or dehumidifier.

These tools are a great way to maintain a healthy humidity level in your home. Learn how humidifiers and dehumidifiers can help you stay healthy. They may improve your hair and skin, reduce infections and quell your allergies. Best of all, they keep your home comfortable.

Every home is different. Depending on your location, house structure and personal health, you may need a humidifier or a dehumidifier.

What is a humidifier?

Humidifiers give your home a boost of humidity. A humidifier dispenses a delicate, invisible mist to protect your home from the effects of dry air. It’s good for your health and comfort levels, too.

Portable room humidifiers

In general, there are two types of room humidifiers:

  1. warm mist humidifier is a type of steam vaporizer that uses electricity to create steam that then cools before leaving the machine. Because the unit boils the water before it enters the air, the mist is less likely to contain bacteria.
  2. Unlike warm mist humidifier that boiler water, cold mist humidifiers just vaporize water. Cold mist humidifiers are more energy efficient, eliminating burn risk and reducing fire hazard issues.
  3. You can buy these portable humidifiers online.

    Whole-home humidifiers

    The best way to control your home’s humidity is a whole-home system. An HVAC professional can add a whole-home humidifier to your furnace. The vapor is directly distributed into the heated air and circulates through the duct system.

    The homeowner can use a humidistat to control the humidity levels. This method has the greatest and most consistent humidification capacity.

    Read more: How good home humidity can help soothe a fussy baby

    What is a dehumidifier?

    Sometimes homes have too much humidity and overproduce condensation. This is especially true during the wintertime in tightly-constructed new homes that retain more heat and moisture. When this happens, the situation calls for a dehumidifier.

    There are a pair of common household humidifiers:

    1. Portable room dehumidifiers. Much like an air conditioner, a portable dehumidifier will take in warm, moist air. The air crosses refrigerant-cooled coils, cooling and creating moisture. The moisture condenses on the coils within the machine.
    2. Whole-home dehumidifiers. Like in-house humidifiers, whole-home dehumidifiers offer a more comprehensive solution to your moisture control. 
    3. How a whole-home humidifier or dehumidifier works with your HVAC system

      whole-home humidifier or dehumidifier is a larger, more complex version of a single-room portable unit.

      A professional will typically hook a whole-home humidifier or dehumidifier to your home’s central HVAC system. This allows the vents to move humidified air throughout your home.

      Similarly, whole-home dehumidifiers work in conjunction with your home’s HVAC unit. The dehumidifier draws air through the return ductwork. The unit then pulls the warm, moist air in to cool it. This causes the moisture in the air to condense into water droplets and drain from the unit.

      The most popular units HVAC companies in Fairfax install are the powered humidifiers. We typically attach to your HVAC’s main ventilation duct and require both an electric and water line connection.

      Most powered whole-home systems push around 18 gallons of evaporated water into your home per day. These systems also incorporate special humidifier pads that contain an anti-microbial feature and inhibit the growth of molds, bacteria, fungus and algae on the pads.

      What are the benefits of an whole-home humidifier or dehumidifier?

      Humidifier benefits

      Humidifiers have the potential to improve your skin, health and entire household. Here’s what they can do for you:

      • Protect wood. Using a humidifier will keep valuable wood furniture from drying and cracking. It can stop wooden picture frames from drying and warping. The moisture prevents wood floors from buckling and separating. 
      • Reduce infection. The humidifier keeps the mucus membranes of your throat and nasal passages moist and allow the tiny hairs (also known as cilia) to work at expelling foreign objects like mold, pet dander and bacteria. This reduces susceptibility to infections and relieves congestion from the common cold, flu and sinus infections. 
      • Combat dry skin. During the winter, humidity levels drop. Cold air holds less moisture than warm air. Using humidifiers can help alleviate the symptoms of dry eyes, eczema, itchy skin, dry nasal passages, cracked lips, and nose bleeds due to dry air, allergies, or asthma. 
      • Save money. Installing a whole-home powered humidifier can help save you money by reducing your energy consumption. Since the humidifier works to automatically maintain a proper humidity level throughout your home, you can turn down your thermostat (and lower your energy bills). It’s worth talking to a Fairfax HVAC installation pro, or an HVAC expert in your Northern Virginia or Washington, D.C. neighborhood, about a humidifier.

      Dehumidifier benefits

      Just like humidifiers, dehumidifiers have the potential to make huge impacts on the way you live your life. The answer to what does a dehumidifier do for you includes:

      • Relieve allergies. Because dehumidifiers reduce humidity levels, it makes your home less hospitable to household allergens such as dust mites, mold and mildew. This is great for people who suffer from allergic reactions to these substances. It also enables your home to produce less dust (which means less dusting for you).
      • Target dehumidification. Whole-home dehumidifiers can remove moisture evenly throughout the entire home or focus specifically on problem areas that can lead to costly renovations if left untouched. 
      • Lower energy costs. When a dehumidifier reduces the moisture in your home, it puts less strain on your air conditioner — which means you can set the thermostat higher and save on energy costs.
      • Reduce mold. Since mold forms from moisture, using a dehumidifier will reduce the possibility that you will develop mold on your clothing, furniture or other linens. It’ll also reduce that unpleasant odor that accompanies mold or mildew in your home. If you’re smelling that stink, make sure you connect with HVAC companies in Fairfax or Northern Virginia to get to the bottom of a potential mold issue.

      Want to install a humidifier or dehumidifier?

      Make sure your home is as comfortable as it can be! A whole-home humidifier and dehumidifier can protect your health, your home and your valuables.

      Learn more about the value of Fairfax HVAC installation of whole-home humidifiers and dehumidifiers when you contact John C. Flood

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