Before we get into the specifics of what a humidifier does, let’s first talk about what humidity is and why it’s important.
What Is Humidity?
Humidity is the measurement of the amount of water vapor present in the air. It is typically expressed as a percentage of the maximum moisture the air can have at a particular temperature.
To better understand humidity imagine a warm, muggy day. The air is thick with moisture and feels heavy on your skin. Now imagine a cool, dry day where the sun is shining brightly and there are few clouds in the sky. The air feels light and fresh.
Humidity is not the same as temperature. The amount of moisture in the air can vary while the temperature remains constant. In fact, temperature and humidity are inversely related. The more moisture there is in the air, the cooler it feels. When there is little water vapor present, temperatures feel hotter than they actually are.
Why Is Humidity Important?
Humidity is important because it affects the comfort level of the air, can influence the growth of certain organisms, and can impact the structure and stability of certain materials.
Too little humidity can cause dry skin, respiratory problems, and static electricity, while too much humidity can bolster the growth of mold and other allergens.
The proper amount of humidity can also help preserve wooden furniture and musical instruments, and maintain the structural integrity of buildings.
Generally speaking, humidity plays a huge role in regulating indoor and outdoor air quality, as well as maintaining a healthy balance in the environment.
What Does a Humidifier Do?
The best way to understand what a humidifier does is by thinking about how dry air affects your body. When it’s cold outside, your skin loses water through evaporation, and this causes chapped lips or dry hands (or both).
In wintertime especially, indoor heating systems tend to suck all of the moisture out of the air so that when we breathe in it feels like we’re breathing through cardboard.
This is why many people find themselves waking up with stuffy noses or feeling short of breath during winter months. These symptoms are exacerbated if you suffer from asthma or allergies as well.
Humidifiers add moisture back into your home environment by creating steamy clouds that raise humidity levels to up to 50 percent. This can help alleviate many of the symptoms associated with dry air, including chapped lips and itchy eyes. It can also reduce static electricity by eliminating dry air from your home.
Ideally, you should keep your home’s relative humidity between 30 and 50 percent. These levels of humidity are much closer to what we experience outdoors and make us feel more comfortable.
Can You Over-Humidify?
Yes, you can over-humidify your home. The problem with humidifiers is that they don’t automatically shut off when the air reaches the desired humidity level. Instead, they continue to run until you notice steam coming from them or when the reservoir runs out of water.
This can lead to excessive moisture in your home environment and cause mold growth on surfaces like walls, ceilings, and floors.
Furthermore, it can make you feel stuffy and uncomfortable. Think of it like this, if you were in a sauna, would you want to keep adding water? Or would you get out and cool off?
Obviously the latter. If you add water, you’re going to find it difficult to breathe and you won’t be able to stay in the sauna for very long.
It’s the same with your home. If you have a humidifier that continues to run without stopping, it will get too wet and create an uncomfortable environment.
How Long Should You Run a Humidifier Each Day?
Typically, it is recommended to run a humidifier for at least 4 to 8 hours a day, or until the desired humidity level is reached. However, the exact length of time can vary based on the size of the room, the humidity level you want to maintain, and the type of humidifier you are using.
Is It Bad to Sleep With a Humidifier On?
There are no studies that have shown that sleeping with a humidifier on is bad for you. However, if you are concerned about the effects of sleeping with a humidifier on, it may be best to turn it off at night.
You can also try using a humidifier that has an automatic shut-off feature.
How Can You Measure the Humidity Levels in Your Home?
Measuring the humidity levels in your home is important because it helps you determine whether or not your humidifier is functioning properly and whether or not the level of humidity in your home is within a healthy range.
There are several ways to measure the humidity levels in your home, including:
- Hygrometers: A hygrometer is an instrument that measures the humidity in the air. You can purchase a hygrometer from a home improvement or hardware store.
- Smart Home Devices: Some smart home devices, such as smart thermostats, have built-in hygrometers that can measure the humidity levels in your home.
- Smartphone Apps: There are smartphone apps that can measure the humidity levels in your home using the sensors in your phone.
- Indicator Strips: Indicator strips are small, inexpensive strips that change color based on the humidity levels in the air. They are not as accurate as hygrometers, but they can give you a general idea of the humidity levels in your home.
How Long Does a Humidifier Last?
The lifespan of a humidifier depends on several factors, including the type of humidifier, how frequently it is used, and how well it is maintained.
However, it reaches a point when it must be replaced. The average lifespan of a humidifier is between two and four years, although some models can last even longer than that.
Humidifiers are not exactly complicated devices that require a PhD in engineering to operate. In fact, most of us don’t even think about them until we’re suddenly dealing with dry skin, a scratchy throat, or worse, wooden furniture that’s starting to crack.
But despite their simplicity, humidifiers are essential devices that can greatly improve our quality of life. And the best part? They’re so easy to use, anyone could do it. Just fill them up with clean water, turn them on, and enjoy the soothing mist as it adds much-needed moisture to the air.