Allergy Be Gone Newsletter - November, 2005
Winter Humidity Problems And How To Solve Them
Dear Valued Customer,
A common problem with the coming of the cold season is the lack of humidity in the air. One of the main reasons for this is that heating systems in your home reduce your household humidity to under 35% which is below comfort level (40% - 50%).
Not only does low humidity affect your health, it can also damage your possessions. Hardwood floors, wooden furniture and expensive musical instruments lose moisture and contract when the air in a home is extremely dry. This can cause them to develop cracks or for the floor to separate at the seams.
How can I increase the humidity inside my home?
While there are many possible solutions to a low humidity problem, like using sprayers or boiling water on a stove, the most effective and convenient one is to use a humidifier - an appliance that adds moisture to the air.
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:
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. Cool mist is easier to breathe than warm mist, but warm mist is more useful when treating colds and other respiratory illness and takes on a second task as a vaporizer.
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.
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