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A-Avis Home Services Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. Blog

Humidifier or Dehumidifier: What’s the Difference?

Indoor_Air_Quality_Filters_Duct_Cleaning_dreamstime_xl_20144812We have to deal with both dry air and humid air here in Riverside, CA. Both can cause problems in your home, and we’re usually so focused on keeping our temperature controlled that we don’t stop to think about them until they’re upon us. But while temperature control in your home should always be the first priority, humidity levels bear watching too. Depending on the time of year and the specific conditions, either a humidifier or a dehumidifier will be able to help you out.

Keeping Humidity Levels Balanced

Humidity is usually measured in terms of relative humidity, which gauges the amount of ambient moisture in the air. At 1005 relative humidity, it’s basically raining. At 0%, there’s no moisture in the air at all (something that almost never happens on this planet). Human beings are usually comfortable when relative humidity levels sit between 30% and 50%.

Low humidity levels can create the following problems:

  • Dry, red, itchy skin.
  • Increased instances of static electricity.
  • Increased risk of colds and flu bugs, since our sinuses and mucus membranes dry out.
  • Higher heating bills, since dry air feels cooler than moist air.

High humidity levels, on the other hand, create an entirely different set of problems:

  • The air feels hotter than it should, forcing your air conditioner to work harder and raising your monthly bills.
  • Your air conditioner’s drip pan or drain line may become overwhelmed, forcing the system to turn off.
  • Your body can’t cool off, since the sweat won’t evaporate off of your skin. That also leads to a gross clammy feeling.
  • Molds and bacteria will flourish in your home, leading to a stale, stagnant feeling.

Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers

A humidifier is used to help balance dry air levels with a very simple and easy-to-understand system. A wick or pad is attached to a reservoir, and a fan blow across the top to send moisture into your ducts when the heater runs.

Dehumidifiers take a much different approach to remove excess moisture from the system. It’s not dissimilar to an air conditioner, since lowering the temperature of the air causes ambient moisture to coalesce into droplets and be removed. Indeed, air conditioners can act to dehumidify the air themselves. But that’s not their primary function and the excess strain can cause damage to the system. A dedicated dehumidifier can to the job properly, and reduce the stress on your system.

Which One Is Right?

Ideally, in a climate like ours, you need both humidifiers and dehumidifiers to ensure that your home maintains comfortable levels of moisture in the air. Having them both installed does more than just help you maintain a comfortable environment. By reducing the strain on your system, it lowers your monthly bills as well as ensuring that your heater and air conditioner can do their jobs for longer with less wear and tear on the individual components. Over time, the savings can add up to quite a bit.

Contact the professionals at A-Avis Plumbing-Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. to discuss your options with humidifiers and dehumidifiers!

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