how long should you have a humidifier on

how long should you have a humidifier on

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So, you’ve bitten the bullet and decided to invest in a humidifier.

If you live in a particular dry region, humidifiers are worth their weight in gold.

They help add moisture to the air and prevent irritation in parts of the body caused by dry air.

This is why they are excellent at treating dry skin around the nose, lips, and throat region. In fact, humidifiers can even help ease symptoms of colds and flu.

It’s all good and well having a brand spanking new humidifier, but knowing how to use it properly is a whole other ball game.

One question many new humidifier owners ask is, ‘how long should I keep it on for?’ If you’re in a similar predicament, you’re in the right place!

If you leave your humidifier on too long or too short, it probably won’t have the desired effect on you and your surroundings.

That is why you need to understand the ideal length of time to leave a humidifier on.

If you’re in a hurry and need to know right away, we recommend limiting your humidifier use to around 8 – 12 hours a day.

Remember, humidifiers create additional moisture in rooms. If they are on for too long, this excess moisture can become too much.

But, using it overnight can have many benefits, some of which involve healing certain ailments.

Read on as we discuss the suggested duration for leaving a humidifier (see also ‘Vicks Humidifier Not Working’) on, so you can keep your home mold and mildew free. 

Leaving A Humidifier On: How Long Is Too Long?

Although there may be a sweet spot in terms of how long to leave your humidifier on, there is no definite solution.

The answer is mostly determined by:

  • Surrounding temperature
  • Humidity 
  • Target humidity
  • The extraction rate of your dehumidifier

In general terms, you might receive anything between eight and upwards of 16 hours of misting based on the size of your humidifier.

You can expect 11-16 hours of continuous power from a two- or three-gallon humidifier, which is typically sufficient throughout any given day.

Because you shouldn’t operate your humidifier for more than 12 hours each day, there’s generally no need for a multi-gallon unit.

However, the majority of newly built humidifiers will come with a variety of time settings.

These simply allow you to adjust the humidifier to suit your lifestyle.

Choosing The Right Humidifier For Your Needs

If you’re in the market for a new humidifier, it’s important that you consider what type is best for you.

Home humidifiers are available in a variety of styles, each of which is better adapted for a specific function.

The designs are essentially grouped into two categories: cool mist and warm mist.

Warm mist humidifiers emit obvious water vapor, whilst cool-mist humidifiers emit a mist that can’t be seen by the naked eye.

There are a range of humidifiers to consider. These are:

  • Impeller humidifiers
  • Evaporative humidifiers
  • Vapor/warm mist humidifiers
  • Central humidifiers
  • Ultrasonic humidifiers

Impeller Humidifiers

Impeller humidifiers work by shooting small droplets of water into the air using a revolving disc that rotates at a great speed.

However, you need to use these with care as they can  add excessive moisture to the air if used incorrectly.

The water mist from this design is usually visible as it flows from the machine.

Evaporative Humidifiers

There are three pieces to evaporative humidifiers, also referred to as cool moisture humidifiers: a tank for cold water, a filter that draws in water, and a fan that distributes the humidified air.

The water from the machine’s reservoir vaporizes as it is drawn into the wick (filter).

The fan then disperses the cold humidity throughout the area, allowing it to fill your space. 

One positive of these devices is that they  are generally inexpensive, but they are susceptible to mold spores in the tank and on the wick pads.

As for the mist produced by these machines, it is usually not detectable.

Vapor/warm Mist Humidifiers

Vapor/warm mist humidifiers boil water to produce steam. This then converts into water vapor that can be seen and is dispersed by a fan. 

The boiling process destroys mold and germs within the humidifier, which is an added benefit.

The disadvantage, however, is that this heating process uses energy. 

Additionally, if you accidentally push one over, you could get burned badly.

This is why they should be used with caution and kept out of reach when youngsters or pets are present.

Central Humidifiers

Central humidifiers are the only humidifiers on this list that are permanent fixtures in the home.

The others we have discussed are all single-room units, whereas central humidifiers are installed straight onto a forced-air HVAC system.

Therefore, these humidify the whole house rather than one room. 

You can choose between two types: steam designs and evaporative. Steam units vaporize the water through a boiling process.

This also sterilizes the vapor, killing mold and pathogens within the unit too. 

The installation of these is typically pretty expensive, but the money is generally worth it.

They are certainly very effective at helping you get perfect humidity levels in all rooms of your home. 

Ultrasonic Humidifiers

This unit adds moisture to the air by breaking liquid water into small droplets that are then delicately pushed into the atmosphere by fast pulsating ceramic discs.

These are mainly cool-air machines, but there are also more complicated types that can boil or sterilize water using UV radiation. They then turn it into water vapor. 

These varieties frequently produce a visible mist and, unlike some others on the list,  are extremely safe.

That being said, they may release small mineral particles into the air from the water sporadically.

These tiny dust particles can eventually settle on surfaces and furnishings, leaving regular cleaning for you. And no one likes that! 

Can I Keep My Humidifier On All Night?

As we stated, leaving your humidifier on for too long is not recommended (over 12 hours).

However, leaving it on overnight can work wonders!

Overnight humidifiers can add moisture to dry skin as well as our mouth and throat.

If you struggle with breathing problems when sleeping, a humidifier may help, too.

It is worth noting, though, that you should aim to keep the humidity in your room at 30% or lower before utilizing a humidifier.

This will help prevent any mold and mildew from forming. And, of course, maintenance is key. Regularly clean your humidifier.

This is especially important if you regularly run it overnight. Therefore, the air in your room will remain healthy and safe to breathe in. 

Where Should I Set Up My Humidifier? 

A humidifier should typically be kept in an open part of a room, such as on a bookshelf or desk.

Make absolutely sure that your humidifier is placed away from you when you’re sleeping, so it doesn’t produce too excessive moisture overnight. If it does, you could become ill.

Generally speaking, we recommend setting up the humidifier around three or more feet away from the bed.

However, six feet should suffice as well. It’s important to note that  just because the mist from your humidifier may feel nice, it doesn’t necessarily imply it’s helping you.

As for places where you shouldn’t put your humidifier, there are many areas. Some places you should definitely avoid are:

  • Tight spaces
  • Areas where direct sunlight shines in
  • On carpets and rugs
  • Close to electrical circuits and outlets
  • Next to televisions, computers and other technological devices that are similar 

Overall, you should refrain from putting your humidifier near anything that is electrical.

We also recommend keeping it away from your window as direct sunlight could impede its function. 

Some people are known to keep their humidifiers on the floor, but we don’t recommend this, either.

For the best humidifying results, we suggest keeping it around two or three feet above the ground. 

If you place a humidifier on the ground, the air in your room will become adversely affected.

Therefore, the device will be pretty pointless. Furthermore, doing this can lead to water damage on floorboards and carpets, leading to costly repairs. 

Some Benefits Of Running A Humidifier All Night

There’s little doubt that humidifiers can help you get a better night’s sleep.

Many people wake up feeling more refreshed than ever after using one of these devices.

Some people report that they wake up with no nasal or throat congestion for the first time in years. Simply put, they can be little marvels!

Here are some of the many benefits of using a humidifier while you sleep.

Your baby having restless nights? A humidifier can even help them sleep more soundly! 

  • Better night’s sleep and improve sleep quality
  • Less nasal and throat congestion 
  • Fewer nose bleeds (if you suffer from them regularly)
  • Helps people recover more quickly from illnesses and helps wounds heal faster
  • Can decrease the risk of various infections
  • Helps to reduce static electricity
  • Helps keeping your skin moisturized and healthier
  • Helps you breathe better and have a clearer voice in the morning
  • Reduces electricity bills 
  • Keeps your houseplants healthy
  • Limits and even prevents dry rot in furniture

We could go on and on discussing the various benefits of using a humidifier throughout the night and, indeed, throughout the day.

By using one carefully and not going overboard, you could see your health and even your home’s health improve in a surprisingly short amount of time. 

In Conclusion 

Knowing how often and how long to use a humidifier is essential to reap its benefits. This applies to new owners as well as seasoned humidifier users.

Overall, it is best to limit your humidifier use to approximately 12 hours a day.

By doing this, you will prevent any mold and mildew from forming in your rooms.

But, leave it on too long, and you could end up breathing in too much moisture.

This is why you need to set up your humidifier in the correct place, ideally, at least three feet from your bed as you sleep. 

Whether your humidifier is in your bedroom or living room, you should turn it off after around 8 to 12 hours.

Then, test your room’s humidity levels sporadically to check everything is where you want it to be.

Photo of author

BY M. Kogan

Hello, I am Marcio. I am an architect and designer, alma mater is Mackenzie. Retired in theory, but an architect never retires completely. Along with architectural projects, I am a filmmaker and have completed some short documentaries. Filmmaking and design are my passions. In HomeQN I write about home decoration and foundations. The goal is to teach homeowners to DYI as much as possible, and when this is not possible, enable them through knowledge, to evaluate service quotations and choose the best service technicians.

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