Shop By Category
Our Blog Facebook Twitter Secure Shopping

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%).

Winter Dry Skin
Dry air can also cause
skin damage.
Such conditions can have many effects on your health, from slightly frustrating to serious hazards. As an example - does being uncomfortable due to a dry nose and throat sound familiar to you? That's because insufficient moisture makes the mucous membranes inside your nose and throat - your organism's first barrier against airborne infections - dry and more susceptible to diseases like cold and flu. For another example, asthma sufferers may find that low humidity aggravates the symptoms they experience.

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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • An impeller humidifier has a rotating disc, which breaks the water into fine droplets that float into the air.
  • Lastly, 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.

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
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. 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

  • 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.

Allergy Be Gone Recommends:

Slant/Fin Ultraviolet Warm Mist Air Humidifier

Slant/Fin Ultraviolet Warm Mist Air Humidifier
Absolutely germ-free!

Bionaire Whole House Humidifier / Air Purifier

Bionaire Whole House Humidifier / Air Purifier
Perfect air for the whole house!

Honeywell Warm Mist Humidifier

Honeywell Warm Mist Humidifier
With adjustable humidistat, so you don't have to switch it on and off.

Hunter Care-Free Air Humidifier

Hunter Care-Free Air Humidifier
No need to replace a filter... ever!

We have a large selection of Face Masks, Goggles, and protective gear to keep you healthy while exposed to outdoor conditions!

Search Products By Condition / Sensitivity / Allergy:
Allergies  |   Asthma |   Childhood Asthma |   Dust Mites  |   Mold  |   Pet Dander  |   Pollen  |   Sensitive Skin  |   Sinus Pain

Search For Information About:
Allergists Directory  |   Allergies  |   Asthma  |   Dust Mites  |   Mold  |   Pet Dander  |   Pollen  |   Sinus Pain  |   Other Health Related Sites

Company Information:
Site Map  |   Free Newsletter  |   Allergy and Asthma Statistics and Facts  |  Allergy Blog  |