Health Benefits of Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers

A yellow and white dehumidifier.

Does your skin dry out in the winter? Do you find yourself coming down with a lot of colds? Does your home have a damp feeling?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then you may be in need of either a dehumidifier or a humidifier in your home. Let's take a look at how each works and see if you could benefit from one.


A central dehumidifier is a component of your HVAC system that removes moisture from the air. It was long thought that simply running the air conditioner in the summer was enough to remove the humidity from the home. This is untrue. While your AC does lower the temperature in your house, much of the time the moisture is still there, it just isn't as noticeable.

Too much moisture in your home could cause a number of negative reactions, such as:

  • Mold and bacteria growth
  • Insects, which love to congregate in cool, damp areas
  • Allergy suffers will be impacted
  • Moisture, which can cause your home's walls to rot and peel
  • Surfaces in your home will feel sticky or damp
  • A general feeling of discomfort

Sleep can be affected as well as everyday activities. Too much moisture can lead to a build-up of odors throughout your home.

A dehumidifier monitors your home's humidity level and tells the blower when to turn on. Some systems have vents that bring outside air into your house to level off the humidity. As the air is circulated, the dehumidifier takes the moisture from the air and sends it down a drain by way of a pump.


A dehumidifier.

A central humidifier works the opposite way. In winter months, your house may become too dry from the heated air being circulated through your home. If the air is too dry, some things you may notice are:

  • More colds and flus than normal
  • Dry and cracked skin or lips
  • Static electricity
  • A general feeling of discomfort and dryness

A humidifier is hooked up to your HVAC system as well and also has a tap into the cold water side of your plumbing system. A solenoid valve on the humidifier controls when the water enters the unit.

When the humidifier senses the air is too dry, it opens the solenoid to bring water into the humidifier and it turns the blower fan on. The forced air is sent through a wet filter, picking up moisture as it does, and gets dispersed through the home. The filter inside a humidifier is usually treated with a special chemical that eliminates bacteria build-up. There is also a vent that allows it to dry itself out when not in use so water doesn't sit.

Central humidifiers have a damper on them that should be left open in the winter and closed during the summer months. It's important to clean your humidifier at the end of every season and the filter pad should be replaced at the start of every season. Using the same filter pad season after season can cause it to become too soft and worn out to be effective.

The Environmental Protection Agency says that your home's humidity level should be between 30 and 50 percent. You can check the relative humidity in your home with an inexpensive meter that can be found at most hardware stores.