The Rainbow International Guide to Humidifiers

Dry air causes many problems, so a growing number of homeowners are installing humidifiers to combat them. But what does a humidifier even do, and do you need one? Let the experts at Rainbow International® help answer all your questions.

What is the Function of a Humidifier?

The purpose of a humidifier is to add moisture to the air. This restores much-needed relative humidity to indoor air during the winter when cold temperatures cause the moisture level to drop.

A humidifier can make your home healthier and more comfortable. Added moisture also keeps wood furniture and floors from cracking and helps your home feel warmer. It’s amazing the difference a little humidity can make!

How Does a Humidifier Work?

Different types of humidifiers operate in slightly different ways, but basically, a humidifier emits water vapor to increase the relative humidity level. The most common type, called an evaporative humidifier, includes a reservoir of cold water that dispenses into a basin. A wicking filter absorbs the water, and as a fan blows, the air passing through the filter picks up moisture.

A whole-house evaporative humidifier works similarly, but since it’s installed in the ductwork, the air throughout your entire house receives added moisture. Water from your plumbing system flows down a metal mesh screen, and air traveling through the ductwork picks up moisture from this screen as it circulates around your home. A humidistat allows you to set the humidity at the desired level. Typically 30 to 50 percent relative humidity is best.

Do You Need a Humidifier?

Even if your house is warm in the winter, it may still be uncomfortable if the humidity is low. Here are the top signs you could benefit from installing a humidifier:

  • Your skin, lips, and throat are dry: You constantly apply lotion and lip balm during the day and wake up each morning with a sore throat.
  • You get shocked multiple times a day: Static electricity is much more pronounced when the air is dry.
  • You can’t shake your cold: Bacteria and viruses that cause colds and the flu affect you more when your mucous membranes are dry due to low humidity, making it harder to bounce back from being sick.
  • Your partner’s snoring keeps you awake: A dry throat increases the intensity of snoring sounds.

What is the Difference between a Humidifier and a Dehumidifier?

Low humidity is prominent in the winter, but high humidity can be problematic in the summer. A dehumidifier serves the opposite purpose of a humidifier—that is, it reduces the moisture content in the air. Portable and whole-house versions are available to bring the relative humidity level below 50 percent in the summer.

Do You Need a Dehumidifier?

When you run the air conditioner, the unit not only cools your home—it also dehumidifies the air. But sometimes, this isn’t enough. Here are the top signs you could benefit from installing a dehumidifier:

  • You see mold growing in your home: Mold thrives in damp places, making your humid home a ripe breeding ground. Mold remediation can remove existing growth, but only reducing the humidity level will stop it from returning.
  • You have severe indoor allergies: High humidity creates the ideal environment for dust mites, mold, and mildew, all of which can irritate your allergies.
  • Your home feels clammy: It’s already cool, but because the humidity level is high, your skin feels sticky and uncomfortable, forcing you to run the air conditioner more, which raises your energy bills.

If you’re unsure whether you need a humidifier or dehumidifier, or you have questions regarding home restoration, please contact Rainbow International®.

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