|Why a Humidifier|
Living in the Midwest has many rewards, and well it should because to earn those rewards we have to endure long and cold winters. This winter my outdoor thermometer has been stuck at around 0 degrees for most of December and January. Most of the time, I’m comfortable in my home, but as the thermometer drops the moisture in the air (the humidity) drops as well.
I knew I was reaching the critical stage a couple of weeks back when I went to pet my cat Tucker and I was zapped with about 1.21 jigawatts of static. (For some added winter fun, pull the bed covers over you and your cat, give them a pet and you will have a blue spark light show to rival Tesla and Edison alike).
So the topic of this article is of course humidifiers.
Having moderate humidity (the amount of moisture in the air) in your home promotes a healthier, more comfortable home environment. Maintaining the appropriate level throughout the year can be difficult with the use of heaters during winter months or in dry climates.
In those situations, the humidity level usually drops dramatically, creating an uncomfortable environment for your family and pets and can lead to health problems such as irritated sinuses, allergies and respiratory problems, and of course dry itchy skin and my least favorite, cracked skin and dry lips. And of course the dreaded static electricity
It can effect your home as well, structural issues such as shrinking /cracking wood in floors and molding, gaps and cracks and permanent damage in drywall and plaster, as well as permanent damage to furniture and artwork.
Humidifiers add much-needed moisture into the air to relieve those dryer than the Salt Lake conditions. They reduce the build up of static electricity in the home, and provide a heat index-effect making it feel warmer than it is, allowing you to lower your thermostat in winter and save energy which means lower heat bills.
How to select a humidifier
There are only a few differences between warm and cool mist humidifiers and the type that is better for you depends on which type is recommended by your physician, or which type helps you breathe better.
Cool Mist Evaporative Humidifiers
Work by air blowing across a saturated wick, moisture is absorbed and exits as vapor into the room.
* Note: You will have to replace filters with this type of unit.
Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifiers
These units work by a metal diaphragm vibrating at an ultrasonic frequency which creates water droplets that are discharged from the unit.
Warm Mist Humidifier
A heating element heats water and releases it up a chimney and into the room. These humidifiers actually boil the water which causes a distilled steam to be expelled into the room. This steam is like a gentle spray of warm water, as opposed to a vapor, and this is concentrated in the area closest to the humidifier. This warm mist is easier to breathe in a cool room. These units are often also used for steaming medications. They are a little quieter than cool mist humidifiers, and are sold in small portable units. They require more frequent cleaning due to the warm water which encourages bacteria growth in the unit.
To determine how much humidity is right for a room, use a hygrometer (a little square desk top unit – some come with the humidifier- a great feature to look for). The hygrometer measures the humidity level in the home, a healthy level is between 35 and 45 percent. I place one in the bedroom and in my living room to keep track of the levels.
What size humidifier should I purchase?
What size of room are you looking to humidify? Humidifiers are rated for coverage area in sq. ft. Take measurements to determine the correct room size you are looking for. Models for 700 sq. ft. are adequate for a bedroom or small room.
I get in the habit of refilling before I go to bed and then again when I wake up. I use my utility sink to refill the unit. It has become part of my bedtime and waking ritual, no big deal.
Also note if the model will require filter changes (cool mist evaporative models) check on availability, and how easy they are to change. Purchase a couple of filters along with your new humidifier, that way you can have the model you need on hand.
If the humidifier is for a bedroom, you may want to look for a unit that has a low or silent option. The model that I use has a soft hum to it, actually I have grown so accustomed to the sound, and I miss it when it is turned off, great white noise.
Many models have safety features where the unit will shut off automatically when the water reservoir is empty. This is really a must-have feature. If you cannot tell from the packaging, this is certainly worth asking the retailer.
Regular Maintenance & Warranty
Recommendations for Use and Care
Remove the water reservoir, and fill 2/3 full of water and a tablespoon of chlorine bleach. Let it sit for 20 minutes, and move the solution around to clean into the corners. Empty and rinse several times to remove all chlorine from the tank.
• Remove the filter or wick, and if these are washable, immerse in a sink of cool water, or rinse under running water. They may require replacing - inspect their condition.
Wipe the outside of your unit with a warm water/vinegar cloth. When time does not allow for a full cleaning, at the very least:
Besides my television, I can’t think of any other appliance in my home that I use more than my humidifier (OK my microwave, but you get the point) it runs almost non stop from November to the end of March. Just make sure that you follow the manufactures recommendations, and that you check it daily and do all the maintenance, an above all keep it clean and replace filters if needed. It is an invaluable friend for any season that your home is overly dry. Your family and your pets will thank you.