Humidifiers increase the amount of moisture in the air. Different models are used for particular rooms (point-of-use humidifiers) or to humidify an entire house (furnace or whole-house humidifiers). The latter kind connect to home ventilation or air condition systems, while small units should be used in enclosed spaces. Many humidifiers are equipped with a hygrometer that will help to determine the relative humidity level. To control as well as monitor the humidity level, a humidistat can be used.

CFW sells domestic (point-of-use) humidifiers – from small units catering for bedrooms to large, powerful humidifiers that can be used for a whole house or commercial storage area (up to 350 m²).

Benefits of Humidifiers

Adequate humidification offers great benefits, especially to those who live in dry or cold climates. There are both economic and health reasons for acquiring an appropriate humidifier. In general, around 40-60% relative humidity is ideal for human comfort. Note that excessive humidity promotes mould, fungus, dust mite, virus and bacterial growth, whilst low humidity can also stimulate virus and bacterial growth, and cause respiratory problems.

While there are various kinds of technology used, the quality of the particular model counts a good deal. With adequate maintenance, the benefits of dehumidifiers far outweigh the cost.

Relieving respiratory and nasal problems
During drier periods of the year, humidifiers offer great benefits to those with nasal problems or allergies. During winter in cold climates, there is little air moisture and humidifiers are especially useful. The symptoms of infections such as colds and flu, as well as allergies such as hay fever, can be relieved by adequately controlling humidity. The discomfort of sinusitis and nose bleeding can also be alleviated. This is especially helpful for people with asthma.

Although in general higher moisture levels are associated with bacterial growth, research indicates that cool and dry air seems to favour the transmission of some diseases, notably flu viruses. A dry nasal passage or throat is associated with infection, partly because dehydration is brought on by disease, but also because it is in dry air that the mucous membranes may suffer minor injury and increase the chance of catching a disease.

Increasing humidity levels permits one to breathe freely, without irritating the mucous membranes or exacerbating coughing.

Relieving dry skin
Dry and scratchy skin and dry lips also benefit from increased air moisture. Eczema and other skin conditions can be exacerbated by dry air, and some conditions and medications tend to dry out skin in any case. This is especially true in dry climates or where heating is necessary.

Save on equipment and building maintenance
While it is well-known that high humidity can cause building problems, very low humidity can also damage buildings, wooden items and electronics. With proper humidity, static build-up is reduced, eliminating a minor annoyance and a risk to electronic circuits. Humidifiers prevent wooden items such as furniture from drying out unduly and causing gaps, cracks and loose-fitting joinings. Gaps and cracks that form in paint and sealants can further exacerbate problems by allowing the more humid air in the house to escape. It is thus important to consider ones options for humidity control as early as possible.

Save on Heating
In cold weather, one feels warmer with a higher humidity level. This can save on heating costs.

Types of humidifiers

Wick Humidifiers
The most common units use a wick with a large surface area to take up water from a reservoir. A fan blows onto the wick to encourage higher evaporation rates. The relative humidity of the environment will determine the evaporation rate; the rate decreases with increasing ambient humidity. This means that wick humidifiers have an in-built self-regulation system.

Wicks need to be rinsed or replaced regularly because minerals from the water accumulate on it. Mould can also grow on it if it is not completely dried before the reservoir is refilled. In such cases, the unit will no longer be effective as air does not pass through the wick to a sufficient degree.

Impeller Humidifiers
Impeller humidifiers use a rotating impeller to throw off water towards a diffuser. The result is a fine mist of droplets that impart moisture to the air.

Steam Humidifiers
More complex systems boil water to create steam. These are often used for medical reasons, especially since smaller amounts of bacteria or mineral impurities will be present than with the vapour from wick humidifiers. These vaporisers, however, can suffer from overheating problems and use much more power. Mineral deposits can still build up on the element. The element should be cleaned with vinegar if this happens.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers
Ultrasonic humidifiers use a fast-vibrating metal diaphragm. This agitates water and produces an extremely fine mist. These humidifiers are very effective.

With both ultrasonic and impeller humidifiers, any minerals or bacteria present in the water are transferred to the mist, so these units should be cleaned regularly. Filters or the use of distilled water can also help to reduce the health risks. There is another reason to use distilled water: in regions with hard water, cool mist humidifiers can leave a fine white dust around the house which consists of a dried residue of calcium carbonate and other minerals which were contained in the water.