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How Do Home Humidifiers Work?

by HomeRepairExpert.com
Home humidifiers are designed to increase the humidity of a room in a house or of the whole house. During winter, the cold air outside is unable to hold very much moisture. When that air is warmed up by a central heating system, it decreases the relative humidity even further. This can cause dry, chapped skin and lips; irritate the nose and lungs; and generally make the winter less comfortable. Dry, warm air can also contribute to the buildup of static electricity and damage wallpaper and paint. By adding water to the air, a humidifier makes the house feel much more cozy during the dry, cold, winter months.

Humidifier Basics

Home humidifiers are designed to increase the humidity of a room in a house or of the whole house. During winter, the cold air outside is unable to hold very much moisture. When that air is warmed up by a central heating system, it decreases the relative humidity even further. This can cause dry, chapped skin and lips; irritate the nose and lungs; and generally make the winter less comfortable. Dry, warm air can also contribute to the buildup of static electricity and damage wallpaper and paint. By adding water to the air, a humidifier makes the house feel much more cozy during the dry, cold, winter months.

Evaporation

Evaporative humidifiers are the most common type of whole house humidifiers, but are less common in room humidifiers. When warm, dry air blows over water, it quickly absorbs water vapor. In an evaporative humidity, warm air blows over or through a wet screen or pad and picks up water droplets. The air may be blown from the warm air duct through the screen by a second fan, or it may depend on pressure from the heater's blower fan to move the air.

Mist

Two types of humidifiers create mist: impeller and ultrasonic humidifiers. Impeller humidifiers are sometimes called mist or cool mist humidifiers. Impeller humidifiers work by centrifugal force. A rotating disk, or impeller, spins at a high speed in the water, agitating it and throwing off tiny water droplets that become a cool mist. Ultrasonic humidifiers also create mist but use a different method to do it. A metal disk vibrates with high-frequency sound waves; this breaks up the water into droplets. Both of these types are common as room humidifiers.

Steam Humidifiers

A steam humidifier or steam vaporizer works in the same way as an electric kettle. An electric current passes through a heating element, which heats up as the electricity flows through it. The heating element heats the water to near boiling, turning it into steam that spreads into the air. In warm-mist models, the steam is mixed with cool air so that it doesn't come out of the humidifier at a scalding temperature.