Humidifier Answers: Across the United States, people are dealing with frigid temperatures and dangerous wind chills that have us piling on layers like Alfie’s brother in A Christmas Story. We can’t wait to get back inside where furnaces are working overtime to keep the air warm and toasty. Unfortunately, warm also means dry and dry air can lead to a host of uncomfortable symptoms.


Humidifiers can relieve the dry skin and even bloody noses caused by dry winter air, but knowing why, how and which one you need can be confusing.

What does a humidifier do? The primary function of a humidifier is to add moisture to the air. This can be done with warm mist or cool mist and which one you use really just comes down to preference.

Common Dry Air Ailments: When windows are closed tight in the winter (and summer) the resulting dry air can lead to the following:

  • Dry itchy skin
  • Dry throat and coughing
  • Cracked lips
  • Bloody noses
  • Sinus congestion
  • Cold symptoms
  • Respiratory issues
  • Psoriasis

These irritations can be significantly relieved with a humidifier. Below is a crash course in Humidifier 101.

Impeller: Uses a rotating disk running at high speeds to produce and expel mist. Portable and budget-friendly.
Ultrasonic: This unit produces a cool mist with the help of rapid ultrasonic vibration. Units vary in size, shape and affordability.
Evaporators: Fans blow air over a moistened filter or wick before being released.

Steam Vaporizers: Electricity boils water inside the unit before it is expelled into the air. Most are portable and affordable and even sold in drug stores. Caution. These units may pose a burn hazard to children if left unattended.

Central: This type of humidifier is built directly in to your HVAC system and provides the best solution for adding just the right amount of humidity to the entire house versus a room-by-room solution. Unlike other humidifiers that need continuous cleaning, a central unit only needs annual maintenance.

A Dirty Device Isn’t Nice: No matter which humidifier you choose, the most important thing to remember is CLEAN IT. Moisture can produce bacteria and mold growth. Most units can be cleaned quite efficiently with white vinegar or distilled water.

Finally, it’s important to monitor the humidity in your home. Air that becomes too humid can produce condensation that can lead to bacteria, mold and dust mites. Humidity can be tested with a hygrometer device, available in most hardware stores.