Dehumidifier vs. Humidifier: Which One Should I Choose?

Every area presents its own unique comfort challenges. In Matthews, North Carolina, one of the major issues is the extreme variation in humidity. It’s often uncomfortably humid in the summer and exceedingly dry in the winter months. If your home can’t maintain a comfortable humidity range, it can lead to reduced comfort and even exacerbate health problems. Fortunately, you can resolve most issues with either a humidifier or a dehumidifier. Read on to learn more about which you need and when.

Humidity and Indoor Air Quality

Most people think of smoke, airborne particles and gases when it comes to indoor air quality. Those are very important, but humidity plays an essential and underappreciated role in air quality as well. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, keeping your relative humidity between 30 and 50 percent is ideal.

In general, it’s better to err toward the lower end of this range in winter to prevent excessive condensation. You can check the relative humidity in your home with a device called a hygrometer. You can buy these as standalone devices or incorporated into certain HVAC control systems. To establish a baseline for your home, take readings at different times over several days. This will help you identify whether your home has too much or too little moisture in the air.

When to Choose a Humidifier

If the humidity readings in your home are often below 30 percent, it’s wise to invest in a humidifier. When the air in your home is too dry, it can suck the moisture right out of your body. Your eyes, lips, hair and skin may feel dry and uncomfortable. It may also dry out your nasal passages, leading to an increased susceptibility to nose bleeds, colds and respiratory illness. Low humidity can also cause any wood in your home to begin shrinking, warping and pulling apart.

If you’ve noticed these problems, you have three main choices in humidifiers. Bypass humidifiers connect directly to your HVAC system, creating moisture by mixing water with warm air from your heat ducts. These systems are simple, affordable and sufficient to correct most low-humidity situations.

Power humidifiers are similar, but they also incorporate powered fans to generate humidity even when the HVAC system isn’t operating. Steam humidifiers use self-contained heating elements to convert water from a reservoir into steam. They can be installed remotely and work independently of your heating system, offering the greatest flexibility and humidifying power.

When to Choose a Dehumidifier

A dehumidifier is recommended if your home often exceeds 60 percent humidity. Excessive humidity often feels sticky and oppressive and can disrupt your body’s ability to cool itself. This can become extremely dangerous during particularly hot weather.

High humidity is also conducive to dust mites and raises the risk of microbial growth. Additionally, too much moisture can seriously threaten your home. Over time, it may promote rot and lead to water damage. It can also create a favorable environment for termites and other destructive pests.

Normally, a standard air conditioning system will remove enough moisture to keep humidity levels in check. If your AC system isn’t cutting it, a dehumidifier can make short work of your humidity problem. They can be incorporated into your HVAC system or installed as standalone units depending on your needs. Some dehumidifiers can also act as ventilators, further improving indoor air quality by supplying fresh air.

Whether it’s too low or too high, humidity is often an issue for many homes. A humidifier or dehumidifier can help you quickly and affordably resolve the issue, improving your comfort and restoring air quality. For more solutions to a healthier and more comfortable home, contact Caryl Mechanicals Heating & Cooling today.

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