Humidity generally refers to the percentage or amount of moisture in the air. Little changes in humidity could have a significant effect on homes and properties, which is why we need to find the right balance. So, a dehumidifier vs humidifier comparison is not out of place. The most comfortable humidity levels often range between 30 and 50%. Anything more or less could cause problems.
Summer months come with more humidity while it is the exact opposite during winter. As a result, everyone wants to be ready for the weather changes all year round. Maintaining the right humidity level throughout the year could be quite a challenge.
Owning both a humidifier and a dehumidifier seems to be the perfect solution. But before then, it is important to know the differences between both and which one is better under certain circumstances such as in cold weather, in the basement and garage, against mold, and so on. This would help you to maintain the air quality and safe humidity levels in your home and property while providing extra comfort and other benefits.
Is there a difference between a humidifier and a dehumidifier?
The differences between dehumidifier and humidifiers majorly have to do with their function. We will go through the functions of each.
What will you do with a dehumidifier?
Dehumidifier decrease the moisture in the air and every other aspect of their use comes from this primary function. By reducing the moisture in your indoor air, a dehumidifier brings down the relative humidity this has a range of applications:
- Preventing mold and mildew build-up: Mold, mildew, and microorganisms thrive under warm and moist conditions. They cause food to become stale quickly. Reducing the moisture content in the air makes the environment unfavorable towards their growth.
- Reduce condensation in the car: Humid weather conditions cause condensation to build up within your car. The windshield and windows may be covered with fog reducing your vision while the interior may be damp. Having a dehumidifier eliminates the extra moisture in your vehicle.
- Use after rain to reduce moisture: If you are experiencing flooding or leak problems and you are trying to dry out your basement, garage, or vehicle, a dehumidifier comes in handy by ensuring thorough drying and damp prevention.
- Helps clothes dry faster: If you are in a race against time and you need to dry certain things like your clothes, the textile in your car interior, and other objects, you will find a dehumidifier especially useful.
- Reduce rusting of electronic components: Rust occurs when metals get exposed to moisture or water. As a preventive measure, dehumidifier help to limit the amount of moisture in contact with electrical appliances and metals thereby preventing rust and saving you money.
- Fresher indoor air quality: Dehumidifiers make indoor air fresher and more comfortable by taking away the musty smell and excess moisture, allowing for a better space.
What will you do with a humidifier?
Humidifiers do opposite functions to dehumidifier . They increase the moisture in the air. When the air is too dry, it causes a number of problems. Humidifiers help to reduce allergy and asthma symptoms, as well as human skin dryness. But it doesn’t end there. They also:
- Reduce cracking of wooden doors and windows: Wooden furniture may dry out during the cold, harsh winter months and cracks may start to form. However, a humidifier may help to prevent this occurrence.
- Remove static electricity: Extremely dry air could cause static electricity to build up due and this could interfere with the proper functioning of electronics. Humidifiers help to prevent the humidity from getting low enough to increase the static electricity in your space.
- Preserve houseplants and household items: Under low humidity, house plants dry out since they lose water to the environment through evaporation. In the same vein, books and other items in the home may dry out and lose their shape. All of these are preventable with humidifiers.
So you need a dehumidifier or humidifier?
There is no absolute answer to the question above because there are several variables involved. You will need a dehumidifier or humidifier depending on the following:
- Humidity: Below 30% RH requires you to use a humidifier. Above 50% requires that you use a dehumidifier. Remember that the easiest way to determine the humidity in your space is with a hygrometer.
- Your living environment: If you find yourself living off the grid in areas like Alert in Canada with extremely high humidity levels, you will definitely need a dehumidifier. The same applies to coastal areas, outlying islands, Tseung Kwan O, Tiu Keng Leng, and Sai Kung. Moving towards the equator, humidity levels remain relatively stable all year round. Moving towards the south pole, humidity levels get as low as single digits and will definitely require humidifiers in some seasons. At either pole, RH levels fluctuate from season to season.
- The room or place: Some areas of the house are naturally exposed to more moisture and will require a couple of dehumidifier to keep them dry. Examples of these places include the basement, laundry room, Bathroom, Kitchen, and even garage. On the other hand, living rooms may require the presence of humidifiers.
- The situation at hand: You may find yourself in some unique situations and that alone could determine if you need a dehumidifier or a humidifier. For instance, water leaks, rain, and flood, all bring excess water and moisture and require a dehumidifier. Similarly, humidifiers are needed when wooden furniture is already drying out and revealing some cracks. You will also be needing one after painting walls and when getting rid of static electricity.
In summary, many of these cases complement each other. Autumn and Winter air dry the air and precipitate the need for a humidifier while Spring and Summer come with increased moisture content in the air and require a dehumidifier.
Humidifier vs dehumidifier for cold weather
You might be having a headache knowing which items to use between a humidifier vs dehumidifier. But the answer is not far-fetched as we will highlight below
THE BENEFITS OF USING A HUMIDIFIER DURING WINTER
Humidifiers are useful during winter. Basements and garages may particularly become problem rooms because of their little exposure to the already limited heat and sunlight from outside. As a result, there might be mold and mildew growth even during winter. Although humidifiers create humid conditions which may even encourage mold growth, they still come with many benefits during winter.
- Warmth: Cold winter air is dry and the more it enters your home, the drier your indoor air will be. Humidifiers add moisture to make your home feel warmer.
- Condensation prevention: When condensation or fog appears on your windows, it could become annoying. Humidifiers help to prevent the buildup of fog around your windows and screens.
- Improved quality of life: What is the point of being in a room if you cannot breathe or sleep well in it? Humidifiers add moisture to the air and make it more comfortable. This is especially useful in kids’ rooms as they may find it difficult to sleep. Also, they help to prevent or reduce the prevalence of dry skin, chapped lips, breaking hair, and even nose bleeds.
Note that although humidifiers improve air quality, you may not even need them during cold weather except if your room or space is not properly insulated. Other benefits of humidifiers during winter include protection of furniture from cracks, protection from static electricity, and a few more.
DO YOU NEED A DEHUMIDIFIER IN WINTER?
You equally need a dehumidifier during winter months. Despite the air already being relatively dry, you might find yourself still needing a dehumidifier. Note that below 30% RH, frost starts to accumulate and could damage the coils of the dehumidifier leading to losses. Although if your home is well-insulated, the chances are less.
You might need a dehumidifier in winter for the following reasons:
- Poorly aerated spaces: Rooms or areas with limited air entry and less exposure to the exterior may become a breeding ground for household pests and stale air. A dehumidifier helps to eliminate bad or poor odors.
- If leaks or spills occur: Dehumidifier help to speed up the drying processes in the event of a flood or leak. Also, they allow smaller rooms to heat up faster, which only brings more comfort during winter.
Dehumidifier vs humidifier for mold
Mold growth is one of the most common problems in houses and properties all over the world. It occurs when excess humidity occurs in the right environment with enough room for mold to thrive even in the presence of microbial competitors. In general, mold requires moisture or condensation, food, and space devoid of other microorganisms to grow.
Dehumidifier for mold
A dehumidifier is useful against molds because it takes away the most important element in their growth – moisture. Molds eat just about anything, which means that the easiest way to kill them is by depriving them of moisture. Understanding how molds grow helps us to know how dehumidifier work to combat them.
Mold grows by reproduction of spores into the atmosphere where they then land on surfaces with enough food, moisture, and space. So, while dehumidifier cannot actually “kill” the mold spores or those actively growing on surfaces, they certainly can help prevent the whole process entirely. However, they could be combined with other techniques that help to prevent or kill molds.
Examples of such include:
- Fixing any water leaks or damage to pipes in the bathroom, kitchen, and basement
- Ensuring proper airflow and adequate ventilation
- Using air purifiers
- Fixing insulation problems in the property
- Using chemical-based cleaning products, and lots more
Depending on how large your home is and how high the RH is, you will be needing multiple units of dehumidifier . Consider placing a hygrometer in the room to monitor the progress and efficiency of your dehumidifier. For the best results, using multiple dehumidifier units combined with some of the techniques listed above will help to keep your mold problems at bay.
You might also want to consult with a professional to determine the best mold remediation approach.
Humidifier for mold
It may sound counterintuitive that an item that actually adds moisture to the room may also reduce mold growth under the right circumstances. Humidifiers reduce the dryness in a room and increase the humidity levels, which certainly means that they do not prevent mold growth. Humidifiers may even add to the mold problems as mold is often seen growing in humidifiers. If the RH in your area is less than 30%, you won’t be needing any humidifiers in your battle against molds.
One of the ways to prevent mold growth in your humidifier is by ensuring thorough regular cleanings on a weekly or monthly basis. You will see the manufacturer’s recommendations for such regular cleaning. Remember to empty water units and rinse them with white vinegar. You may also scrub the interior with soft brushes and air-dry to remove any mold buildup. There are also a number of things to add to the humidifier’s water chamber to reduce mold or lime buildup. Examples of such additions include:
- Tea tree oil: Add a few drops of this natural disinfectant and essential antimicrobial oil
- Humidifier tablets: Get a few tablets from any local store. Drop one or two tablets inside the reservoir.
- Hydrogen peroxide: Perhaps the most popular option here because of its budget-friendliness. Add a few drops into the water reservoir to kill any mold or bacteria. You could also use little quantities to clean mold-infested surfaces.
- White vinegar: Introduce one cup of white vinegar to the water reservoir. It is a natural antimicrobial substance safe to use in your humidifier.
Humidifier vs dehumidifier for basement
Basement dehumidifier needed?
Most basements need dehumidifier a lot of times not only because of the poor amount of circulating air but also because of less optimal insulation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), basement humidity levels should be less than 50% ideally. Depending on your area of residence, you might only need a dehumidifier from late spring and summer to early autumn. Temperatures are warmer during that period and outdoor humidity levels get higher.
You might also need a dehumidifier during winter. If you live in a place with cold temperatures, condensation could form when the warm temperature from your central heating unit meets the cold surfaces of your basement. If your basement shows signs of getting humid, it is advisable to run a dehum for at least 12 hours to reduce the condensation. Alternatively, you could run the dehumidifier alongside an HVAC for increased efficiency in making your home cooler.
If you plan to use your basement as a storage area or for some activity, you will need a dehumidifier with the right capacity. The presence of a washing machine, multiple entry/exit points to the exterior, mold/mildew, and valuable items only means that you will be needing a dehumidifier with a large capacity to solve your condensation problems. However, this could be a bit expensive to run and when not properly monitored, the basement may get too dry, which ends up only causing more problems.
Basement humidifier needed?
Humidifiers are equally as important as dehumidifier in many cases. Summertime may come with increased dryness in your basement. You may notice dry itchy skin, chapped lips, cracking furniture, and static electricity as signs. Also, excessive and prolonged use of a dehumidifier could precipitate the need for a basement humidifier.
Humidifiers are indicated once the RH goes below 30%. They operate best when centrally placed in the basement. If you have a pretty big basement, you may want to place the humidifier on a platform at the center seeing that they need adequate airflow to function at their best. Also, humidifiers should be kept as far away as possible from kids and pets.
In the end, using a dehumidifier or a humidifier for your basement all boils down to your specific climate and location, the value of items in your basement, the configuration of the space, the activity carried out there, and your other personal needs.
Dehumidifier vs humidifier: Which one is better?
No one is better because different situations call for different products. Both products are equally very important depending on your need for them. As a result, it is best to have both dehumidifiers and humidifiers. Alternatively, you could order a two-in-one dehumidifier-humidifier product as the perfect recommendation.
You will be needing a dehumidifier if the relative humidity in your space gets above 50% while you will be needing a humidifier if it is less than 30%. Dehumidifier are great for basements, garages, and mold prevention since they antagonize the natural habitats of mold and condensation. Humidifiers on the other hand may be more useful in cold weather
Humidifiers are especially great for children’s rooms since they help to provide the suitable moisture levels needed to keep their nasal passages moist, thereby making their breathing better. Also, their energy consumption is less than that of dehumidifier regardless of the energy efficiency, which might be a factor to consider for some people.
To have an idea of the humidity level in your space, get a hygrometer from any home improvement store around you. Both dehumidifier and humidifiers require regular maintenance. Regular cleaning of the tank helps to prevent the buildup of harmful organisms and chemicals. You may also want to look out for possible leaks.