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Table of Contents

Assess the Air

Exploring Different Types of Humidifiers

Selecting the Appropriate Humidifier Size

Crucial Features to Consider

Maintaining Your Humidifier

Cost Factors of a Humidifier

Expert Advice on Purchasing a Humidifier

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What You Need to Know Before Buying a Humidifier

10 min readUpdated Mar. 11, 2024Kimberly HillegassHVAC
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can be part of a larger HVAC solution

If you're contemplating buying a humidifier, it's important to arm yourself with the necessary knowledge to make an informed decision. With a variety of humidifier options on the market, understanding the essential factors can guide you towards the best humidifier that suits your needs.


  • Before running out to buy a humidifier to put moisture back into the air, do a little research.
  • Use a hygrometer, an inexpensive device to measure the amount of moisture in the air.
  • You’ll want to maintain indoor humidity between 35% and 55% using a whole-house humidifier.

Do you ever wake up with cracked lips, dry eyes or parched skin? That’s a good sign the air inside your home is too dry. But before running out to buy a humidifier to put moisture back into the air, do a little research.

Assess the Air

Start by measuring the humidity level in your home. You can use a hygrometer, an inexpensive device to measure the amount of moisture in the air.
“You want it between 35% and 55%,” says David Kenyon, training manager specializing in heating, ventilation and air conditioning for Sears Home Improvement Products in New Rochelle, New York. “If it’s higher, mold, bacteria or dust mites could thrive,” he says. “And humidity that’s too low can dry out your furniture, floor boards, doors and artwork. It can also cause dry skin and even nosebleeds.”

If every room needs a boost, there could be a larger problem. “If you’ve got a family of three and a dog living in a modest-sized home, the moisture generated by breathing, plus that from showers and baths and dishwashing should generate enough moist air to keep you comfortable,” says Ed Voytovich, a retired energy advisor based in Syracuse, New York.

If that’s not happening, it’s worth your while to schedule a home performance check-up to find out where the moist air is leaking out and dry air is coming in.

Exploring Different Types of Humidifiers

Choosing a humidifier requires understanding the various types available, as well as their advantages and disadvantages. This knowledge will enable you to make an informed decision and choose the best humidifier for your needs.

Here are the different types of humidifiers, along with their unique features and benefits:

  1. Evaporative Humidifiers: These humidifiers work by forcing air through a moistened wick or filter, which then evaporates and adds moisture to the air. They're energy-efficient and usually more affordable, but they require regular maintenance to prevent mold or bacteria growth.
  2. Ultrasonic Humidifiers: Ultrasonic humidifiers function by using ultrasonic vibrations to create a fine mist that is discharged into the air. They operate quietly, making them ideal for bedrooms or nurseries. However, they can leave a white dust residue if not used with distilled water.
  3. Steam Vaporizers: Steam vaporizers create steam by heating water, which is then discharged into the air. They're effective in adding moisture to the air and can provide relief for respiratory issues. However, they consume more energy and can be potentially hazardous if not used correctly.

The best type of humidifier for your needs depends on various factors such as room size, desired humidity level, and personal preferences. Weigh the specific benefits and drawbacks of each type to find the one that fits you best.

Selecting the Appropriate Humidifier Size

One of the crucial aspects of buying a humidifier is selecting the right size to ensure optimal performance and comfort in your space. The appropriate humidifier size for your room is determined by a few factors, including the square footage. If it’s just a bedroom, a simple room humidifier might do. If you need to add moisture in every room, a whole-home humidifier might be the better option.

In addition to the square footage, you should also consider the height of the ceiling. Rooms with high ceilings may need a larger humidifier due to the increased volume of air.

Also consider the level of humidity you desire. Different humidifiers have different output capacities, which determine how much moisture they can add to the air. If you live in a dry climate or want to achieve a higher humidity level, you may need a humidifier with a larger capacity.

Finally, it's important to avoid under or over-humidifying your space. Under-humidification can lead to dry skin, respiratory issues, and damage to wooden furniture, while over-humidification can cause mold and mildew growth. Selecting the right humidifier size based on the factors above will help maintain a healthy humidity level in your room.

Crucial Features to Consider

When shopping for a humidifier, it's important to look for key features that will ensure optimal performance and enhance convenience and usability. Some let you set your ideal humidity level; some are cool mist, some warm; and some are quieter than others. There are even kid-friendly options that have a heavier base to keep them from falling over and a cooler mist to avoid a scalding hazard.
Here are some must-have features to consider:

Features necessary for optimal performance:

  • Humidistat: A built-in humidistat allows you to set and maintain the desired humidity level, ensuring that the air in your home remains comfortable and healthy.
  • Automatic shut-off: This safety feature automatically turns off the humidifier when the water level is low or when the desired humidity level is reached, preventing any damage or wastage of energy.
  • Large water tank: A humidifier with a large water tank will require less frequent refills, allowing for continuous operation and convenience.

Additional features that enhance convenience and usability:

  • Timer function: This feature allows you to schedule the humidifier to turn on or off at specific times, ensuring optimal moisture levels throughout the day.
  • Adjustable mist output: Being able to control the mist output allows you to customize the humidity level according to your preferences and the size of the room.
  • Easy-to-clean design: Opt for a humidifier with removable and dishwasher-safe parts to simplify cleaning and prolong the unit's life.

A Bigger Solution

For a whole-house humidifier, “you need to have a forced air system and ductwork,” Kenyon says. “And it has to be in a conditioned space like the basement or the living space. If it’s in the attic, the humidity lines will freeze.”

The advantage of this type of system is the humidistat, which measures and regulates humidity levels. “Set it once and forget about it,” Kenyon says.
The downside is that you have to remember to regularly change the filter to avoid mold growth, both in the system and in your walls. “In a leaky home during cold weather, the warmer, moist air can come into contact with the cold surface of the outside wall and condense from vapor to liquid, which will support mold growth,” Voytovich says.

Think big picture when you make the decision. “Don’t use a humidifier as a Band-Aid,” Voytovich says. “Get a separate, inexpensive hygrometer for the basement, one for each occupied floor and one for the attic. If there are sudden changes on one or more levels, you may be able to identify and correct a moisture issue that develops over time before it becomes a problem.”

Prioritizing features based on your preferences:

When prioritizing features, consider your specific needs and preferences. If maintaining a specific humidity level is crucial for you, prioritize a humidifier with a reliable humidistat. If convenience is your top priority, opt for a model with a large water tank and a timer function. By understanding your priorities, you can choose a humidifier that best suits your requirements.

Regardless of what type you choose, you’ll need to keep the machine bacteria-free by cleaning it according to the product manual. Keep in mind that making a room too moist can lead to mold growth, which can affect those with allergies or asthma.

Maintaining Your Humidifier

Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential for the proper functioning and longevity of your humidifier. By adhering to the correct cleaning techniques and performing necessary upkeep, you can ensure that your humidifier continues to provide the desired level of humidity and improved indoor air quality.

The Importance of Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Humidifiers create a moist environment, which makes them prone to mold, bacteria, and other microorganisms' growth. Regular cleaning helps prevent these harmful substances' accumulation, ensuring the air you breathe remains clean and healthy. Additionally, proper maintenance helps prevent mineral deposits and clogs that can impact your humidifier's performance.

Cleaning Techniques and Recommended Frequency

The cleaning technique for your humidifier may vary depending on the type and model. However, the general steps include emptying and rinsing the water tank daily, wiping the tank and other removable parts with a mild detergent or vinegar solution, and thoroughly drying before reassembling. It is recommended to clean your humidifier at least once a week, but always refer to the manufacturer's instructions for specific guidance.

Replacing Filters and Other Necessary Upkeep

Filters play a critical role in trapping impurities and ensuring the quality of the humidified air. Over time, these filters can become clogged, reducing their effectiveness. Regularly inspect and clean or replace the filters as recommended by the manufacturer. Additionally, check for any mineral buildup or blockages in the water delivery system, and address them promptly to maintain optimal performance.

By understanding the importance of regular cleaning, adhering to the recommended maintenance schedule, and addressing necessary upkeep such as filter replacement, you can enjoy the benefits of a well-maintained humidifier. Always refer to the manufacturer's guidelines and consult a professional if you encounter any issues or have specific maintenance concerns.

Cost Factors of a Humidifier

When considering buying a humidifier, there are several factors that can affect the overall cost. Understanding these factors can help you make an informed decision and find the right humidifier that fits your needs.

The price range for different types of humidifiers can vary significantly. There are various types available, including cool mist, warm mist, and ultrasonic humidifiers. Cool mist humidifiers tend to be more affordable, while warm mist and ultrasonic humidifiers are often priced higher. It's important to consider your specific requirements and budget when choosing.

In addition to the initial purchase price, factor in long-term cost considerations. Some humidifiers require regular filter replacements, which can add to the overall cost over time. Humidifiers consume electricity, so it's important to consider the energy consumption and estimate the associated costs.

When balancing affordability with quality and performance, look for a humidifier that meets your needs without compromising effectiveness, with features such as adjustable humidity levels, automatic shut-off, and easy maintenance. Reading customer reviews and comparing different models can help you determine the best value for money humidifier.

Expert Advice on Purchasing a Humidifier

When it comes to buying a humidifier, there are a few common pitfalls you should avoid to make the best decision for your needs. Here are some expert tips to navigate the buying process:

  1. Common pitfalls to avoid when purchasing a humidifier:
    One of the most common mistakes is purchasing a humidifier that is either too small or too large for your space. It's important to consider the square footage of the room where you plan to use the humidifier and choose a model that is designed for that size. Also, be mindful of the noise level the humidifier produces. Some models can be quite loud, which can be disruptive, especially if you plan to use it in a bedroom or office.

  2. Recommendations from industry experts:
    Industry experts suggest looking for a humidifier that offers adjustable humidity settings. This allows you to customize the humidity level based on your specific needs and preferences. It's also important to consider the maintenance requirements of the humidifier. Some models require frequent filter changes or cleaning, while others are low-maintenance.

  3. Making an informed decision based on your specific needs:
    Before making a purchase, take some time to evaluate your specific needs. Consider factors such as the size of the room, your desired humidity level, and any specific features you may require. Reading customer reviews and comparing different models can also help you make a more informed decision.

By avoiding common pitfalls, following recommendations from industry experts, and considering your specific needs, you can make a well-informed decision when buying a humidifier. Remember to choose a model that suits your space and offers the features you desire, and you'll be on your way to creating a more comfortable indoor environment.

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