The Pros & Cons of Humidifiers

Split-system air conditioner
A humidifier mounted on the wall. (Image: pashapixel/iStock/Getty Images)

Humidifiers offer definite benefits if you suffer from the effects of dry indoor air, but those benefits can come at a price. You’ll pay, literally, for the cost of operating the humidifier--warm-mist humidifiers are more expensive to run than cool-mist humidifiers, because you’re paying to heat the water involved. But you could pay in another sense if you don’t take proper care of your humidifier, allowing it to become a breeding ground for bacteria or fungi, or ignore the other potential problems that can come from using a humidifier.

Soothes and Eases Dry Air Symptoms

According to MayoClinic.com, using a humidifier can soothe problems caused by dry air. These include dry sinuses, bloody noses and cracked lips. The increased humidity levels can also ease cold, allergy and asthma symptoms, although you should consult a physician before using a humidifier if you have allergies or asthma.

Must be Refilled Frequently

A humidifier requires regular maintenance for it to run effectively. This includes refilling it frequently. This may seem to be a minor issue, but if you’re having trouble getting family members to wash dirty dishes or put the clean ones away, getting the humidifier refilled regularly might prove to be a similar struggle.

Longer Life for Furniture

Maintaining proper humidity levels in your home can also increase the life of fixtures in your home, including wood furniture and wallpaper, which can suffer ill effects if kept in an environment that is too dry.

Condensation

If your humidifier is set to the wrong setting or left to run for too long, it may cause overly high humidity levels in your home. This can cause condensation, which triggers the growth of bacteria, dust mites and mold, according to MayoClinic.com. These microorganisms can, in turn, trigger allergy and asthma problems.

Microorganisms

Bacteria and fungi can breed on your humidifier’s moist surfaces and in the water tank. Once bacteria and fungi have multiplied, the humidifier disperses them into the air. Remedy this by performing the daily and weekly maintenance as directed in your humidifier owner's manual.

White Dust

Ultrasonic humidifiers can disperse a fine, white dust, caused by mineral deposits and other impurities in the water, throughout your home. Using distilled water in your humidifier reduces or eliminates the dust.

Risk of Burns

Warm mist humidifiers boil water, then disperse the steam into the air. You can get scalded by the steam output, and if the humidifier tips it poses a risk of burns from the boiling water inside, especially to small children.

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