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Learn More About Air Humidifiers

 

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  • Learn More About Humidifiers

    If you have a question about air humidifiers that is not covered here, please e-mail us at info@allergybegone.com and we will do our best to answer it.

    What is a humidifier?

    A humidifier is an appliance that adds moisture to the air. They come in many shapes and sizes, from portable models to whole house systems hooked up directly to the furnace or A/C systems.
    • The most common is an evaporative humidifier. It consists of a fan that blows the air through a damp wick filter, thus enriching it with moisture. Most popular brands are Honeywell, Bionaire, Hunter and Holmes.
    • An impeller humidifier has a rotating disc, which breaks the water into fine droplets that float into the air. A good example of such humidifier would be the Air-O-Swiss brand.
    • An ultrasonic humidifier uses a metal diaphram vibrating at an ultrasonic frequency, which creates water droplets that exit the humidifier in the form of a cool fog. For the best in ultrasonic humidifiers, choose Air-O-Swiss.
    • A steam humidifier (also called a warm mist humidifier or a vaporizer) boils water, releasing steam and moisture into the air. The least expensive of humidifiers, these usually have a medicine cup, where you can add medicated inhalant to be released with the vapors. Choose between Honeywell or Slant/Fin humidifiers.

    What are the benefits of using a humidifier?

    • Humidifiers help prevent winter infections, and alleviate the symptoms of cold, flu, and asthma attacks by keeping the mucous membranes that protect your respiratory airways moist. Proper humidity also helps relieve sinus pains and dry, sore throat.
    • Help prevent dry, itchy skin and chapped lips
    • Reduce static electricity
    • Prevent expensive wooden objects (furniture, musical instruments, hardwood floors) from cracking and warping.

    How do I choose a humidifier?

    That mostly depents on how large a room you wish to humidify. Every humidifier has its capacity listed in gallons - that shows how many gallons of water in releases into the air within 24 hours. As a rule of a thumb, you can use the following table:

    Area500 sq. ft.
    (or less)
    500 - 650
    sq. ft.
    650 - 850
    sq. ft.
    850 - 1000
    sq. ft.
    1000 - 2000
    sq. ft.
    Over 2000
    sq. ft.
    Humidifier Rating
    (gal./day)
    1.5 - 2.02.2 - 2.53.0 - 3.54.0 - 4.57.9 - 9.010.0+

    This table assumes that the air condition in your home are average. For extremely dry air, you should choose a humidifier with a rating at least one category higher than the one dictated by your room size.

    Most humidifiers are designed to humidify the air within a single room, and you might need one for each room where you spend your time the most - if you do not want to carry the humidifier from room to room. Larger, less portable models are available, which can cover a whole apartment or a floor. Or, for a more comprehensive solution, a Whole House Humidifier can be installed, adding moisture directly to the air coming from a furnace or a whole house A/C system.

    Another issue is choosing between a warm mist and a cool mist humidifier, and that depends mostly on your personal preferences. To sum it up, cool mist is easier to breathe than warm mist, but warm mist is more useful when treating colds.

    What are the most common problems associated with humidifiers?

    The most common problem is the noise. This may range from slight buzz to the sound of boiling water in case of a warm mist humidifier. Ultrasonic humidifiers are the most quiet of all (virtually noseless!), since they do not use a fan.

    Another problem is the "white dust". Tap water usually contains a certain amount of minerals, which settle down on walls and furniture when the water vapors are released into the air from a humidifier. Or, they can settle down inside the humidifier tank, creating scale buildup. This problem is usually solved by adding special chemicals to the water inside the humidifier tank. Such chemicals may come in a form of liquid, pads or cartridges. Using distilled water in a humidifier should also do the trick.

    Sometimes, when an unused humidifier is left filled with water for too long, microorganisms start growing within its tank, producing a stale odor. When a humidifier is turned on, the microorganisms from the tank will get into the air you breathe. Good practice is to always empty the humidifier tank when not in use and wipe it dry. Bacteriostatic chemicals that prevent microorganism growth are also available - some manufacturers even pre-treat the wicks in the evaporative humidifiers with them. Slant/Fin even uses a patented germ-killing ultraviolet light in its humidifier design.

    Taking care of your humidifier

    • Replace the wick filter in an evaporative humidifier at least once a month, and right before the start of humidifier season.
    • Empty the tank, wipe all surfaces dry, and refill the water in portable humidifiers daily to reduce any growth of microorganisms. Be sure you unplug the unit from the electrical socket first.
    • Use water with low mineral content to prevent the build-up of scale and the dispersal of minerals into the air.
    • Keep steam vaporizer humidifiers out of the reach of children. Steam and boiling water may cause burns.
    • Do not humidify when indoor humidity levels exceed 50 percent. Higher humidity levels may encourage the growth of mold in the home. Hygrometers may be used to measure humidity levels. Some humidifiers contain a built-in humidistat which may be adjusted to the proper moisture level.
    • Do not permit the area around the humidifier to become damp or wet. If dampness occurs, turn the output volume of the humidifier down. If the humidifier output volume cannot be turned down, use the humidifier intermittently.
    • Clean the humidifier, as directed, at the end of the humidifying season or when the product will not be in frequent use. Before storage, make sure all the parts are dry. Dispose of all used demineralization cartridges, cassettes, or filters. Store the unit in a dry location. After storage, clean the unit again and remove any dust on the outside.

    Additional tips

    • Excess humidity (50% and over) encourages mold and dust mites. Keep the humidity within the 30% - 40% comfort range.
    • Any humidifier will add moisture to the air, but you may not be able to reach a comfortable humidity level when using a humidifier with a capacity lower than your room size
    • Manufacturers tend to exaggerate the coverage area for their humidifiers. Choose a humidifier with a slightly larger coverage area than the room you're buying it for.
    • Hot steam coming out of a steam humidifier can be dangerous - keep them out of reach of the children

    Where can I find more information?

  • EPA Indoor Air Facts: Use and Care of Home Humidifiers

    Go back to:

  • Air Humidifiers
  • Humidity Information Page

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