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Humidifier Buying Guide

Whether you live in a dry climate or are in the middle of a bone-chilling winter, too much dry air can wreak havoc on your health and your home. That's why humidifiers are a must-have in nearly every home and any region. Learn more about these air quality devices below—and why you need one.
Basic Humidifier Buying Guide Video
Basic Humidifier Buying Guide
Basic Humidifier Buying Guide Video Basic Humidifier Buying Guide Video
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Do I Need A Humidifier? Health and Home Benefits

Truthfully, yes, but the answer could depend upon where you live. If your space is already heavy with moisture, the answer may be no. That's because humidifiers are made to do just what their name says: distribute moisture throughout a space. If your environment is already too humid, opting for a dehumidifier might be the better option for your health. But if you're away from tropical rainforests and uncomfortably moist spaces, you'll likely need a humidifier. They're designed to improve your health year-round, though many people rush to buy them in the winter becaude they're a must have for cold and flu season. They're perfect year-round, too: the air is just more comfortable when it's at the optimal humidity level (which is around 40%-60%). You'll see a drop in dry skin, have healthier sinuses, find help for eye irritation and more moistured lips—all just a few of the health benefits.
Another pro to these moisture machines: many viruses and bacteria can't live in air that's humidified. That helps decrease the chance of spreading illness between family members who live in the same space. With a bit of time, these devices can even help reduce snoring and make a cough more productive—all for a cold and flu season that's much easier to manage than it would be with dry air.
Meanwhile, homes themselves can benefit from humidifiers just as much. Air that's too dry can end up damaging and cracking elements like wood flooring and tends to make wallpaper stay on longer. Even houseplants will love the extra humidity. These moisturizers help to hold onto heat in the air, too, ensuring that you save power on temperature control in the winter.
All that being said, it's hard to deny the power and benefits of humidifiers. But these air quality designers are not always simple, and they're not all the same. Which one you choose for your house should depend on your needs, your home's size and your lifestyle. But the main goal of every single humidifier is to improve your air qualty, so make sure that you keep that purpose in mind as you read. Learn more about the most popular types of humidifiers below.
Evaporative Humidifier Beside Rug & Console Table

Types Of Humidifiers

Impeller Humidifiers

Impeller humidifiers (often called "cool mist humidifiers") use an interesting technology—they spray water through a revolving disc to create water vapor. After that, the mist condenses and evaporates to move into a space's airflow. You'll often find these models are easy on the budget, and very safe for kids. Since they don't heat up, there's little risk for burns. These models are very popular and must be cleaned and refilled regularly.

Ultrasonic Humidifiers: Shop This Vornado Evaporative Humidifier

Ultrasonic Humidifier Beside a Chair
Ultrasonic models seem to be structured similarly, with a reservoir of water that changes to mist. But the methodology is very different: the water changes to mist via vibration. The vibrations move at such a high frequency that humans are completely unable to hear it. These models tend to be a bit more expensive than evaporative and impeller models, but they're truly unhearable. And just like impeller versions, there's no hot water and no danger of burning. They're very popular, just like impeller and evaporative ones. With no built-in filters, users need to clean and refill these models regularly.

Evaporative Humidifiers: Shop This Vornado Evaporative Humidifier

Vornado Evaporative Humidifier
Evaporative humidifiers have been trusted to do the job correctly for decades, and they function simply. A wick within absorbs water, then pulls air in via a fan. The air then absorbs that humidity and is cycled back out into the room. These versions tend to look a little bulky, but are some of the most common humidifiers right alongside evaporative versions. Some evaporative models can humidify enire homes, too. They stand apart thanks to energy efficient construction and built-in filters. We often keep these in stock; explore products from AirCare, models by Vornado and more.

Air Washer Humidifier: Shop This Dyson Air Purifier & Humidifier

Dyson PH04 Humidifier
These fuse powerful air purifiers with the health benefits of humidifiers. This tech is relatively different from the other models, with a process that accomplishes two jobs at once. Most models contain rotating discs that collect airborn particles like pollen and dirt before pulling them into a water reservoir. Here, debris sinks to the bottom while clean water rises to the top and evaporates. If you're in search of the cleanest air quality, air washer models are the kind to find. At Abt, you can find some models made by Dyson that perform similar functions.

Central Humidifiers: Shop This Large Bypass Humidifier from Trane

Trane Bypass Humidifier, White Background
These are some of the most unique humidifiers you'll find: central humidifiers are designed to evenly dispense moisture throughout the home. They're large and attach to a classic central HVAC system. The ultimate benefit of these systems is that they require little to no maintenance, all while humidifying the entire home. There are two types to choose from: bypass and power. Power models operate on their own, while bypass models have no fan. Instead, bypass versions operate only when the furnace runs. When choosing between the two, keep in mind that bypass models are more affordable but less efficient, and power versions create lots of humidity (which is great for large homes) but can be expensive to repair. When buying, choose a dependable brand like Trane.

How To Clean A Humidifier

Cleaning your humidifier correctly will help ensure that it lives a long and healthy life (and it'll help you to stay healthier, too). Before doing anything, make sure that you're following the directions found in the product's handbook. But there are some methods that work in nearly every evaporative or impeller model, but for more specialty products its always best to check the handbook.
Before you do anything, make sure your unit is unplugged. The secret mixture here is going to be water and white vinegar. The cleansing process will look different for many types, too. If there's a reservoir and it's portable, use this method. White vinegar is going to help cut through limescale and other debris that sticks to the side. For more delicate areas like bases, use a diluted solution of 50/50 water and vinegar. For resevoirs, use pure vinegar to descale the sides. Shake the reservoir to help that cleaning solution get into every part of the reservoir, or use a toothbrush to get into certain nooks and crannies. Make sure you empty all the vinegar out before restarting your humidifier, too. Many manufacturers recommend weekly cleaning: regular maintenance is necessary no matter what type of humidifier you have in order to keep bacteria and mold at bay.

Which Should I Choose?

Ultimately, it's all about what's best for your home and those who live there. If you find you only need help in cold and flu season in the winter, than an impeller, evaporative or ultrasonic model is probably best for you. Or maybe you're interested in the 2-in-1 capabilities that are part of an air washer, like some of the Dyson air purifiers. But if you live in a space that experiences cool, dry winters every year or are in an arid climate, then a central humidifier is the right choice (and we're happy to install for local customers).

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