There's static in your hair and sparks fly when you touch any surface in the wintertime.
These are only two of the signs that the air in your home is too dry. When this is the case, it can do more than turn you into a mini human lightning bolt!
Low humidity in your home can cause a host of issues that range from inconvenient nuisances to serious health concerns. Thankfully, humidifiers can help restore moisture loss and make your living areas more comfortable.
Are you wondering, "Do I need a humidifier?" If so, read on. Today, we're sharing a few of the most common signs that it's time to invest in one today.
What is Air Humidity?
Before you can discern whether or not a humidifier is the answer your home needs, it helps to understand the underlying issue that's at play.
Humidity is the presence (or lack thereof) of water vapor in the air that's all around you.
There are myriad factors that contribute to the humidity levels in your home, including the current temperature and the weather conditions.
Relative Humidity Ranges
When we talk about indoor humidity ranges, we're really referring to relative humidity. In short, this is the amount of water your air contains compared to the amount it could contain at a given temperature.
For example, if your relative humidity level is at 100%, this means your air is holding as much moisture as it possibly can at that specific temperature. Any more, and precipitation would result.
There is a certain range that your humidity levels should fall within. Ideally, they should measure between 30% and 60%.
If your levels creep above 60%, it won't take long for you to feel the effects. You'll notice that your skin feels clammy and sweaty, but unable to properly cool itself.
Conversely, if your humidity dips below 30%, you'll notice the opposite effect.
Low humidity can cause excessive skin dryness. It can also aggravate and dry out your nasal passages, making it more difficult to clear them of cumbersome phlegm. As a result, common colds and sinus issues can occur more easily and are more difficult to treat.
Low Humidity and Flu Season
Low humidity is one of the reasons why the flu season is generally considered to fall in the winter months. Not only is the air naturally drier at this time due to the lower temperatures, but as we pump our homes with extra heat to get comfortable, we're depriving them of the little moisture they do contain.
Researchers recognize that low humidity, coupled with cooler temperatures, facilitates the transmission of the flu virus. In addition, they cite that low humidity affects our immune system and hinders our body's ability to fight off the flu in three ways:
- Prevents cilia (hair-like structures in our airway cells) from eliminating mucus and viral particles
- Prevets airway cells from fully repairing damage caused by the virus in our lungs
- Hinders interferons (signaling proteins) from alerting neighboring cells of the viral threat
In addition to posing a risk to bodily health, relative humidity levels that are too high or too low can also threaten the structural integrity of your home.
Using a Humidity Gauge
You can file humidity gauges into the category of household items you wouldn't normally think to buy but are actually incredibly useful.
It can be difficult to simply "sense" whether your home's humidity levels are where they should be. With a digital humidity gauge, you can see your relative humidity level in seconds, eliminating any guesswork.
If your reading comes back near or below 30%, it's time to buy a humidifier. Also called hygrometers, these gauges are both accurate and affordable. They're also easily available from a host of online retailers.
In addition to providing a readout of your humidity levels, many modern gauges will also display a temperature reading, as well. Both of these metrics are critical to achieving a complete understanding of your home's overall air condition.
In addition to alerting you when it's time to buy an air humidifier, these gauges can also let you know when you've reached that ideal 30% to 60% humidity range. This way, you can turn off your humidifier when it's not required to save money on your utility bill.
Do I Need a Humidifier? Look for These Signs
Are you wondering if the air in your home is dry enough to warrant a humidifier?
Let's take a look at a few of the most common signs to watch out for. If these apply to you, a humidifier can provide much-needed relief and contribute to a more comfortable living environment.
Dry Skin, Nose, Eyes or Throat
When your mucus membranes are deprived of their healthy moisture levels, your internal passageways consequently dry up. Have you noticed that your eyes feel itchier than normal or the skin on your elbows is cracking? Do you have a slight tinge in your throat?
When this happens, your body becomes more susceptible to airborne irritants. In turn, your immune system weakens, making it more difficult to fight off or bounce back from illness. Dry air can cause a common cold to grow into a sinus infection that lingers for months if left untreated.
In terms of your skin, check for any itchiness or flakiness that might be occurring. Dry air can strip your skin of its protective top layer of epidermis, leaving it vulnerable to infections and further complications. In addition to surface-level redness and irritation, you might also notice dandruff on your scalp or chapped lips.
Rather than spending time on an elaborate and lengthy moisturizing routine, it pays to address the issue right at the source. When you increase and improve the humidity levels in your home, your skin will thank you.
While dry skin is mostly an inconvenience and irritant, there are many groups of people for which it could turn into something more serious. These include people who are suffering from
- Skin asthma (atopic dermatitis)
Static Shock or Electricity
It's common to shock yourself on a metal object, such as a playground slide, in the wintertime. However, if you're constantly zinging yourself at home, it could signal an issue.
When your home's relative humidity levels are too low, static electricity increases. This is because your home's moisture levels aren't high enough to block those static charges. If your levels stay between 30% and 60%, you shouldn't notice this issue as much.
In addition to that little pop you feel when you accidentally shock yourself or someone else, some static electricity is more powerful than you might expect. If the charge build-up is allowed to grow, it could reach up to hundreds of volts, which could damage nearby electronics in your home.
Cracked Wood Floors
Besides static electricity, other signs that low humidity is impacting the physical structure of your home include dry or peeling wallpaper, as well as warped wood floors and furniture. These all signify that the air in your home is too dry.
Take a look at the wooden picture frames on your walls. Have they started coming apart and cracking at the seams? Your first thought might be that the item is simply old, or that this wear and tear is natural to the species.
Yet, further investigation may reveal that low humidity levels were the case. If you're hearing squeaks every time you walk over your floor, that's a clear sign that your home needs more moisture.
Ironically, people who live in colder climates tend to close their doors and windows air-tight and crank up their heaters. When this happens, it can cause the moisture in your home to drain out, causing further damage to your indoor valuables.
You've taken all of the over-the-counter allergy medicine you can find, but you're still sniffling, sneezing and coughing like a maniac.
Turns out, it might not be the pollen or ragweed outside your door. With dry air, any allergens present in your home already are allowed to travel more freely through it. In addition to the telltale signs of a sinus issue, you might also have difficulty sleeping at night due to a persistent cough or constantly dripping nose.
Pay close attention to when your sinuses feel their most congested. For most people, this occurs in the morning and nighttime. If you wake up with a sore back after coughing all night and find it impossible to breathe through your nose, your sinuses are aggravated and your air is too dry.
Studies show that 60% of Americans will experience a nosebleed at least once in their life.
While they can be scary when you're in the throes of one, they're not uncommon. Two of the main causes of nosebleeds include:
- Physical trauma to your nose
- Dry air
We've discussed how dry air around you (either outside or inside) can irritate and dry out your nasal passages. This can lead to crust or scabs along the inside of your nose. When you blow your nose or scratch at these sores, it can trigger a nosebleed.
Even if you don't do anything to aggravate your nose, the dry air alone can make your blood vessels more susceptible to bleeding due to extensive skin breakage.
Regular Furnace Use
Especially during the dead of winter, nothing feels better than the heat that comes from a warm furnace. Yet, resist the urge to run yours on a continuous basis.
If you do so, you'll continue to zap the moisture from your home. Not only can the heat in this dry air directly influence your humidity levels, but it can also make the air around you more difficult to breathe.
Your four-legged best friend can't exactly tell you when the indoor air is too dry. Still, he can display symptoms that are easy to recognize.
One of those is panting. If your pet appears to be extremely thirsty, his throat might feel excessively dry from the air. Over time, he might also begin to display other signs of discomfort including:
- Skin irritation
If you notice your pet displaying any of these symptoms, it's smart to take action immediately to prevent further complications.
If you snore, increasing the humidity level in your air might not completely solve the problem. Yet, it can help make it less severe.
Dry air can contribute to those snores, and even make them more severe. This is because when there isn't enough moisture in the air, your throat can swell up and your nose can become congested. When this happens, a bedtime snoring habit can reach next-level melodies.
How a Humidifier Can Help
Put simply, a humidifier restores moisture back into your indoor air. When you fill the tank of yours up with water, the machine works to change it into a fine mist, which it releases back into the room.
This immediately increases the relative humidity levels in your air and creates a comfortable, healthy environment. You can select a warm-mist or cool-mist humidifier depending on your personal preference. There are even ultrasonic humidifiers that create an ultra-fine mist by vibrating water at ultrasonic speed.
A few of the benefits of installing a humidifier in your home include:
- Quicker recovery from colds and sinus problems
- Smoother, healthier skin
- Asthma relief
- Cleaner air
Today, there are more humidifier models to explore than ever before. Modern versions are also more advanced and sophisticated, allowing advanced user controls and more high-tech settings.
Invest in a Humidifier for Your Home Today
If you're asking "Do I need a humidifier?", it's likely that the answer is already "yes"!
Humidifiers are an excellent solution to air that's too dry. Affordable, convenient and a cinch to set up, they're the natural choice when you notice that your home's humidity levels aren't where they need to be.
Are you ready to invest in a solution of your own today? If so, we're here to help.
We offer a wide range of products, including top-tier humidifiers, designed to increase your comfort and turn your home into a haven. Feel free to browse our entire inventory and contact us today if you have any questions!