Authored by Douglas Mefford in Home
Published on 02-22-2009
Both the humidifier and the dehumidifier are small appliances that are used to affect the moisture that is in the air of our dwellings. While they both go at the problem of moisture and humidity in opposite directions, they are both necessary for specific purposes in maintaining healthy air and an undamaged structure.
The dehumidifier’s primary duty is to remove excess moisture from the air. This is a necessary operation in most basements and cellars, as the proximity to the ground will draw extra moisture into the air. This in turn creates a situation that is very conducive to the growth of mildew and various harmful molds. It can also infuse the structural materials and slowly weaken or degrade them. The dehumidifier will draw the air in the room through its internal mechanism to take out some of this moisture.
Your air does need some moisture in it to prevent other problems. The most effective level of moisture in the air of your dwelling is between 30% and 50% relative humidity. The dehumidifier is designed with a moisture sensor that will cut it on and off automatically when the set humidity level is obtained. The major drawback to most dehumidifiers is that the catch-pan requires frequent emptying, as it too will shut the dehumidifier off when it has become full.
The humidifier is designed to put moisture back into the air. This device can be used to either increase the humidity of a single room or can be set up to increase humidity to an entire dwelling. Again, the purpose of the humidifier is to maintain between a 30% and 50% relative humidity in the air.
The primary reasons for this are related to health issues. Air that is too dry can be as hard on the sinuses and lungs as air that is too moist. If the air you are breathing becomes too desiccated, it will begin to draw moisture out of your body as you breathe. There is the inherent danger of over-running the humidifier and creating the conditions encouraging the over production of dust mites as well as the before mentioned molds and mildews. A quality humidifier will be installed with a humidistat for measuring the relative humidity in the air and cutting off the machine when the set optimum level is reached.
Conversely, if you allow the humidifier to place too much moisture into the air you risk not only the external problems mentioned but can develop the medical condition hypersensitivity pneumonitis, also known as humidifier lung. Breathing excess moisture, especially if the air is cold encourages the development of respiratory viruses and bacteria. Even if this ailment does not create full-blown illness, it can create an ongoing situation of pain in the lungs and acerbate such pre-existing conditions and fibromyagia and pleurisy.
While doing diametrically opposed service to the air, they are both necessary for controlling the atmosphere in the home, office or workplace. A basic air conditioning unit cannot maintain a constant relative humidity nor can a heating unit. They are concerned with temperature only. Cold air holds more moisture than hot air so these devices that regulate humidity will help you maintain a healthy total environmental control over your indoor spaces.