The ABCs of Humidifiers
What is a humidifier? A humidifier is a device that is designed to add moisture to the air inside your home. The purpose is to minimize the negative effects of dry air on our health as well as on our home furnishings.
Can you have too much humidity in the home? Yes, that’s why the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that the humidity level not be 50% or higher. Levels above that mark encourage the growth of organisms that aggravate allergies and asthma.
What are the benefits of humidifiers? A humidity level of 30% to 50% improves the health of your family, protects your floors and furniture, and may reduce your heating bills. The accompanying resource lists and explains these benefits.
What types of humidifiers are available? Humidifiers include steam vaporizers, evaporators, ultrasonic humidifiers, impeller humidifiers and whole home humidifiers. Only the whole home unit humidifies the entire house; the other four are portable models appropriate for single rooms. Read our resource to learn more about the various types of humidifiers.
Choosing a Humidifier
How do you decide which humidifier is best for you? If you wish to add moisture to only one room, then consider the following:
- Do you plan to keep a humidifier in a child’s room? A cool mist unit is safer than one that heats or boils water.
- Decide if you want to be able to adjust the humidity settings on your humidifier. Some models have settings for adjusting the humidity, while others do not.
- How big is the room that you are planning to humidify? Read the specs to make sure you buy the right machine for your space.
If you want to humidify your entire house, please consult with an air quality specialist. Only a professional will be able to help you select the right whole home (central) humidifier for your needs and install it correctly.
Humidifier Tips and Tricks
Maintain the proper humidity. Be sure to add the right amount of humidity to a room or your home. Purchase a hygrometer to measure the moisture — remember to keep the humidity level between 30% and 50%.
Use distilled water. Tap water can release minerals and other particles into the air that cause bacterial growth. Always use distilled, demineralized or purified water in your portable humidifier.
Keep your portable machine clean. Empty the water tank and clean the humidifier after every use. Standing water may contain mold or fungi. Scale, a common residue that builds up in humidifiers, which may cause lung problems, should be removed by cleaning with water and vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or a cleaner recommended by the manufacturer.
Regularly maintain your whole home (central) humidifier. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacing filters. Call a professional for regular maintenance per the manufacturer’s recommended schedule.
Replace the humidifier as necessary. Hard-to-clean deposits may build over time and encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. No machine lasts forever!
Infographic Provided by American Residential Services
Scott Swisher is Vice President of Risk Management and Safety at American Residential Services/Rescue Rooter. Swisher has more than 29 years of experience with home service companies, including emergency HVAC service; plumbing, sewer and drain service; electrical; and attic insulation.