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Should You Invest in a Humidifier For Your Home

Should You Invest in a Humidifier For Your Home?

When winter’s cold sets in, you’re thankful that you have reliable heat; and similarly, when the heat of summer ramps up, you’re happy that you have air conditioning to keep things cool. However, despite the benefits that heating and cooling provides, there’s a definite downside: forced heating and forced air conditioning can make your home feel excessively dry.

Just like high humidity levels can be bad for your health, so, too, can excessively low humidity levels. For example, when the air inside your home is abnormally dry, you may find that your eyes, throat, nose, and skin are extremely dry, scratchy, and otherwise irritated. Fortunately, there is a solution to that dry indoor air and the health issues that it can cause. What is it? – A humidifier.

What is a humidifier? Is it really beneficial? Should you consider investing in one for your home? Read on to find the answers to these questions and more.

The Impact of Humidity on Health

When the air in your home is very high or very low, your health can suffer for a number of reasons. When the moisture content in your home’s air is too high, it can spark the growth of mold and mildew; not to mention the fact that allergens, like dust, pollen, and pet dander, can get trapped in the moisture molecules that are floating around in the air. As such, exposure to high humidity levels in your home can cause a number of health complications. For example, it can exacerbate respiratory conditions, worsening the symptoms of asthma, COPD, and allergies. It can also increase the risk of development new respiratory conditions and infections. In addition to the health issues that high humidity levels, excess dampness can also damage your home; wood can warp and wallpaper can peel, for instance.

High humidity in indoor air isn’t the only cause for concern. Excessively low humidity can also be problematic. It has been determined that repetitive exposure to low humidity can cause adverse health effects, such as:

  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Dry, scratchy, and sore throat
  • Nasal dryness
  • Bloody noses
  • Increased susceptibility to cold and flu, as well as worse symptoms
  • Dry, irritated, itchy, and chapped skin and lips
  • Worsened symptoms related to allergies and asthma

In addition to health problems, your home can also sustain damage as a result of excessively dry air. For example, low humidity levels can peel wallpaper, and shrink and crack wood.

In order to prevent the health risks and the structural damages that can be caused by low humidity levels, making efforts to maintain an ideal humidity level in your home’s indoor air is definitely recommended. Of course, depending on where you reside, controlling the humidity levels inside your home may be a difficult task. That’s where a humidifier can be beneficial. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the ideal humidity level for indoor air falls between 30 percent and 50 percent. If the humidity in your home is lower than 30 percent, investing in a humidifier might be worth your while.

What is a Humidifier and How Does It Work?

Humidifiers are appliances that are designed to emit water vapor or steam into the air, with the goal of increasing indoor moisture levels. There are several different types of humidifiers, including:

  • Steam vaporizers. Steam vaporizers utilize electricity in order to generate steam, and the steam is cooled before it leaves the device. It should be noted, however, that the water inside of this type of humidifier can become scalding, and therefore, if you have children or small pets, you may want to avoid using a steam vaporizer.
  • Central humidifier. This type of humidifier is built directly into a home’s heating and cooling system, and is designed to input humidity and increase the moisture content of the indoor air of an entire house. While a central humidifier is a whole-house solution for low humidity levels, it is the most expensive option.
  • Impeller humidifier. A rotating disk inside of this type of humidifiers that runs at very high speeds generates a cool mist that is then emitted into the air. This type of humidifier would be ideal for home’s with children and small pets, as  they do not produce hot water, and therefore, eliminate the risk of burns; however, overuse of an impeller humidifier can trigger allergies and asthma.
  • Ultrasonic humidifier. This type of humidifier uses ultrasonic vibration to generate cool or warm mist that is then emitted into the air.
  • Evaporator. An evaporator features a fan, which is used to blow air through a moistened filter, wick, or belt into the air. It should be noted, however, that while evaporators are affordable, they may put too much moisture into the air, which can lead to excessive humidity levels. High humidity levels can be just as problematic, if not more so, than dry air, as it can increase the risk of mold and mildew growth and exacerbate existing health conditions, such as allergies, asthma, and COPD.

What is the Ideal Indoor Humidity Level?

Humidity refers to the amount of moisture the air holds. Humidity is constantly changing, due to the changes in seasons, as well as the conditions and activities inside your home. Typically, humidity levels are higher in the summer, as the temperatures are higher, and warmer air can hold more moisture, and in the winter, humidity levels are lower, as the air is color, and colder air cannot hold as much moisture. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the ideal indoor humidity level falls between 30 and 50 percent. If the humidity level falls below 30 percent for a prolonged period of time, it can cause a number of health complications, as well as problems for your home’s structural elements – as mentioned above.

How do You Measure Humidity Levels?

The most effective way to measure the humidity levels inside your home is with a hygrometer. This specialized tool looks similar to a thermometer, and it is designed to take samples of and measure the amount of moisture in the air. You can purchase one of these devices at a department or hardware store, or from an online retailer.

The Benefits of a Humidifier on Sleep

Adults and children can benefit from using a humidifier during sleep. On its own, sleep allows the body to repair, maintain, and rejuvenate the immune system, and improve your overall health and well-being. If the bedrooms in your house or your entire home is excessively dry, sleeping with a humidifier can be beneficial, as it can help to promote deeper, more restful, and more restorative sleep. Some of the benefits that you may be able to take advantage of if you sleep with a humidifier include:

  • Loosens congestion. Dry air can lead to nasal congestion, as it can dry out and thicken mucus, which can then clog up the nasal passages. As a result, if you’re sleeping in dry air, you may experience a stuffy nose, sinus congestion, and even a sore throat. Sleeping with a humidifier, however, can help to prevent this issues, as the moisture may breakup mucus in your sinuses, nose, and chest, which in turn, will allow you to sleep better.
  • May ease cold and flu symptoms. If you’ve ever come down with a cold or the flu, there’s no doubt that you’ve had trouble sleeping. The coughing, nasal congestion, runny nose, and sore throat can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. By sleeping with a humidifier, however, the congestion that a cold or flu can cause may be loosened, and that mucus can help to lubricate your nasal passages. In other words, you’ll breathe easier, and may even experience less soreness in your throat. Furthermore, sleeping with a humidifier may help you recover from a cold or flu faster!
  • Reduces dry, irritated skin. It’s no secret that dry air can lead to dry skin. Dry skin can become itchy, irritated, and can even crack. Over prolonged periods of time, dry skin can increase the risk of developing premature wrinkles. Sleeping with a humidifier can help to prevent dry skin and keep your skin looking more youthful and radiant, as the moisture that the humidifier adds to the air will prevent your skin from drying out. It can also help to prevent outbreaks of eczema or ease the symptoms of an outbreak, as humidifier will help your skin retain vital moisture.
  • Improved scalp and hair health. Your hair is your crowning glory, and believe it or not, sleeping with a humidifier can actually help to keep your scalp healthier, and can prevent your hair from drying out. Dry air can dry out the scalp, which can lead to flaking and dandruff. It can also make your hair more weak and brittle. The hair is comprised of collagen, and as such, it needs to maintain a certain level of moisture; if it becomes too dry, it can become brittle and become more prone to breakage. Sleeping with a humidifier on can help to improve your scalp and hair health, as it will give both the moisture they need to thrive.

Benefits of a Humidifier for Children and Babies

Young children and babies can benefit from a humidifier. These devices are designed to maintain ideal moisture levels in your indoor air, which can prove to be beneficial for children and babies for several reasons. Some of the most notable benefits include:

  • Reduced risk of dry skin. Babies and young children have sensitive skin, and exposure to dry air can increase the risk that their sensitive skin will dry out and become chapped, chaffed, and cracked. Dry air can also aggravate eczema and other skin irritations. By putting moisture into the air, a humidifier can help to protect the health of your little one’s skin.
  • Improved breathing. Just like a humidifier can be beneficial for adults breathing, it can also be beneficial for young children and babies. A humidifier can help to maintain ideal moisture levels in the air your child is exposed to, which will help to keep their nasal passages moist and can also help to loosen congestion.

Other Benefits of Humidifiers

In addition to being beneficial for adults and children, humidifiers can provide several benefits for your home, overall. Here’s a look at some of the benefits that your home – and thus, you and your family – will be able to take advantage of when you use a humidifier.

  • Your houseplants will be healthier. In order to not only survive, but thrive, plants need reliable access to moisture. A humidifier will put moisture into the air, and the soil your houseplants grow in will absorb that moisture, which will help to improve their health.
  • It may help to decrease your utility bills. How? Because humid air tends to feel warmer, and when the air in your home feels warmer, you won’t have to run your heating as high or as regularly.
  • You’ll also experience less static electricity; that annoying effect that causes hair to stand on end and clothing to become sticky. Dry air is much more prone to static electricity. Since a humidifier puts moisture into the air, it will help to reduce the risk of static electricity.

Be Mindful of Too Much Humidity

While a dehumidifier can certainly be beneficial for a number of reasons, it’s important to note that too much humidity can be a bad thing. High humidity levels can increase the risk of mold and mildew growth, which can lead to a whole host of complications, including adverse health effects and structural problems for your home.

If you are planning on using a humidifier in your home, having a professional mold inspection company inspect your house every once in a would be a wise investment. Mold inspection professionals will check your home for mold growth and will be able to offer tips and suggestions for eliminating existing mold growth and preventing future mold growth.

Mold Inspection and Testing (MIT) is one of the nation’s most trusted mold inspection companies. With locations throughout the United States, we serve homes and businesses of all shapes and sizes. Our team of highly trained, professional, and experienced technicians will conduct a thorough assessment of your property and will determine if mold growth is present. With routine inspections from MI&T, you’ll be able to rest a whole lot easier.