Humidifiers are required in places where the air is very dry, or in homes where indoor heating leads to very dry air being circulated within the house. Dry air may cause a person's lips to crack, throat and nasal passages to go dry, and impair one's natural defenses against viruses. It may also aggravate asthma in some people.
Even wooden furniture, wooden flooring, and beams can dry and crack due to excessively dry air. It also causes paint and wallpaper to peel. One benefit of increased humidity, particularly warm mist, is that it can make the air feel warmer and thus reduce heating costs. However, some humidifiers can also spread bacteria if they are not properly maintained.
Humidifiers spurt vapor into the air and raise the moisture in the surroundings. Before buying one, you need to decide whether you want a cool-mist humidifier or a warm-mist one. Equally important is to understand the method the appliance uses to produce the mist. Another important aspect to take into consideration is what size is suitable for the room you want to install it in.
You may choose from portable humidifiers which are small tabletop models that can humidify one or two rooms, and can easily be moved from place to place. The larger models like console humidifiers are about the size of laundry hampers, and can humidify an entire house or apartment depending on their capacity. They often come fitted with casters to make moving them easy.
Types of cool air humidifiers are:
The technique used in them to produce mist involves water being blown through a wet pad or wick filter by a fan. The mineral dust and bacteria get trapped here before the water evaporates into the air. Its advantages are that it is energy-efficient, and its filter helps keep microorganisms and minerals in the water from being dispersed into the air.
However, they do need to be periodically cleaned, otherwise the filters will start to breed bacteria. While most modern humidifiers come with a built in solution in the form of antibacterial filters, special plastics and a structure that prevents stagnant water from accumulating around the filter, cleaning still needs to be done.
Impellers also release cool mist. The technology they utilize is a fan to blow water through a diffuser to produce fine droplets. Unfortunately, as there is no filter, bacteria is spread in the air along with the mist. They also scatter the minerals present in the water which settle as "white dust" all over the house. To prevent this, one can use distilled or de-mineralized water instead of regular water to fill them up. These are cheaper than evaporative humidifiers.
While they have many advantages, the feature of either cool or warm humidification makes ultrasonic humidifiers an industry favorite. They use high-frequency vibrations to dissipate water into the air. This technology makes them the most silent type of humidifier.
These humidifiers, also called vaporizers, heat the water and expel steam into the room. Certain medications can also be added to steam humidifiers for inhalation, and can consequently relieve congestion. As is obvious, these are better suited for colder climates. While they do consume more electricity, they are a little quieter as compared to cool mist humidifiers. Bacteria growth is a concern in warm humidifiers too, and thus require frequent cleaning. The warm water it contains increases the risk of a person getting accidentally scalded.
Before investing in a humidifier, try to discern which kind would best suit your needs. One aspect to consider is the size of the tank, which should not be too small to require frequent refills, and not too big to make it too heavy to move once filled. Few features to look out for include a rotating spout, which you can use to change the direction of the mist. Another useful feature is a built-in humidistat that regulates the amount of humidity in the air. A good humidifier will come with a safety shut-off feature that will stop it from operating once the water gets over.