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Humidifiers Buying Guide


When the air indoors and out becomes dry, it takes a toll on our body — and our home. The lack of humidity dries our skin and causes wallpaper and paint to peel and crack. Find out how using a humidifier can restore the moisture in your home’s air.


Fundamentally, a humidifier is an air treatment device that creates and releases water vapor or steam to increase moisture levels in the air, creating humidity. There are five types of humidifiers:

Central humidifiers

Built into your air conditioning or heating system, a central humidifier emits humidity to every room of your home. While an expensive solution, a central humidifier is the best and most effective humidification tool available.


An evaporator is made of three parts: a water-holding tank, a fan, and a filter. The filter wicks or draws up water from the tank and as it becomes moist, it’s blown by the fan to release moisture into the air.

While priced affordably, one evaporator can typically only treat one room, depending on its size. It’s also important to monitor the amount of moisture being released. Humidifiers can create too much moisture, which supports an increase in mold growth, and too much mold is unhealthy, especially for people with asthma.

Impeller humidifiers

Impeller humidifiers generate a cool mist with the help of a tank of water and a small plastic disk that sits above the water and rapidly rotates at a high speed.

Like evaporators, one impeller humidifier can only treat one room and when overused, can cause breathing problems for people with allergies or asthma. This type of humidifier is a popular choice for families because it creates cool mist so there is no chance of the water burning a child. It’s also a very affordable choice.

Steam vaporizers

As its name suggests, this type of humidifier heats water in a reservoir to create steam, then cools the steam before it’s released into the air. The most affordable of all humidifier styles, steam vaporizers are best used in homes without children. If spilled, the hot water can cause burns.

Ultrasonic humidifiers

Ultrasonic humidifiers produce a cool mist with the help of ultrasonic vibration. The inaudible vibrations break water particles apart, turning them into a vapor that is then emitted into the air. Available in both warm and cool mist, the cool mist ultrasonic humidifier is safe to use around kids.


Humidity is nature’s moisturizer. When the air is dry, a humidifier is an effective tool for relieving:

  • Dry skin
  • Flaking or cracked lips
  • Sinus congestion
  • Bloody noses
  • Nose irritation
  • Dry throat
  • Dry cough
  • Irritated vocal cords

Around the house, a humidifier can reduce static electricity, prevent wallpaper from peeling, and keep paint and furniture from cracking. It can also protect wood flooring.


Humidity, or the amount of water vapor in the air, varies with the season and your geographic location. While typically high in the summer and low in the winter, the optimal humidity level is between 30 and 50 percent. When the humidity is higher or lower than that range, problems can develop.

Find out the humidity level in your home by using a hygrometer. A thermometer-looking tool, it measures the air’s moisture level.


Some humidifier filters simply wick water to support the creation of mist. Other filters are multitaskers. They wick water and can clean the water to keep your air free of contaminants like minerals, sediment, and microorganisms. Filter surfaces that have been antimicrobially treated can even prevent unwanted growth of mold, algae, fungus, and bacteria. To keep allergens out of your air, look for a replacement filter that does double duty.


Routine care and cleaning of your humidifier is critical. The water reservoir and filters used in a humidifier offer a perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria that can make you sick. Keep the microorganisms out of your air by regularly scrubbing the tank and other parts that are in contact with water, and replace the humidifier filter with a new one.


Humidifier filter are among the more simple filters to replace. When you know the make and model of your humidifier, it’s just a matter of finding a new filter designed to fit it — no measuring or guessing needed. Filter names typically include a model number made of letters and digits, along with the brand name. Stores sometimes have a limited selection of replacement filters; so online shopping can save you time and money, while ensuring you get the right humidifier filter.

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