Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers: Do You Need One, the Other—Or Both!


Whole-House Dehumidifiers

Whole-house dehumidifiers help control and regulate the humidity throughout your house automatically by removing moisture from the air. They tend to be energy efficient and easy to maintain. They are generally located in the basement, so you can’t see them, and you are less likely to hear them.

You might need one if you want to control your home’s growth of mold, dust mites and mildew, any of which can lead to allergies. A whole-home dehumidifier can prevent this growth. It can also help decrease how fast metal rusts, extending the lives of appliances and plumbing systems.

Here's how it works: dehumidifiers pull warm, moist air from every room in your home. The air passes over a cool surface and its moisture condenses, running into a container or a drain outside the house. The drier air then recirculates. Some units are connected to the cooling or heating system’s ductwork; others are separate, independent, self-contained units.

Whole-House Humidifiers

A whole-house humidifier can increase your home’s moisture and humidity levels. Typically, they are controlled by a humidistat, which senses the moisture in the air and lets you set the humidity level you want digitally or manually. The amount of water consumed and humidification you need varies based on the size of your home, the home’s construction and your specific humidifier. They are energy efficient since they help your home feel warmer at a lower temperature. And it’s cheaper to run the whole-house humidifier than raising your thermostat.

You might need it if you want to reduce viruses that increase your likelihood of flu, colds or respiratory issues, since these viruses tend to multiply in dry environments. A whole-house humidifier lowers the strength of these viruses. Also, dry air can damage household objects like wooden instruments, wood furniture and hardwood floors, as well as fragile artwork. Increasing the home’s humidity will help prevent these from being damaged.

Also, dry air can cause cracked, dry and itchy skin; dry mouth; itchy, dry eyes; nosebleeds; sore throats and sinus problems; aggravate asthma and allergy symptoms; as well as a host of other health issues. Humidifiers can alleviate these conditions.

Here's how it works: In a forced-air heating system, the units bring moisture directly into the system. Typically, air blows through a wet wick and then into a duct. The system brings the moisture to every room in the house. They don’t need to be refilled since they’re linked to your home’s water supply.