Do you want to learn about humidifier benefits? Or want to get one for your home? Everything you need to know figuring out the best product on the market is the highlight in this article,
In the winter, dry air can wreak havoc on your skin, and this is why humidifiers are a must-have for every home in the winter. You may also need a humidifier during other seasons of the year, depending on where you live.
Humidifiers add moisture to dry indoor air, which helps prevent or relieve chapped lips, nosebleeds and cracked skin. Also, it helps alleviates erythema (redness of the skin), itching, and eczema flare-ups. Not only do they provide relief from these issues but also to respiratory problems such as colds and flu.
Suppose you’re looking for a new humidifier. In that case, there are different units to consider and specific features to look out for that make up the best one. Choosing the right one for you begins with an understanding of how humidifiers work. You also need to be aware of the maintenance requirements. It determines how to get the best results from your humidifier units.
All of these and more have been covered extensively in this post. Read on to find out all about the humidifier.
Why Humidifiers Important?
To fully understand how humidifiers work or why you need one in the first place? You must have a basic understanding of humidity and how it affects your indoor air quality.
Humidity refers to how much moisture the air contains. Think of how your bathroom feels after a hot steamy shower. That’s a high humidity environment with a lot of water in the air. On the other end is a low humidity space such as a desert that hasn’t seen rain for a long time or a cold winter morning. In places like this, the air contains very little quantity of water vapor.
Generally, the amount of vapor a mass of air can carry depends on the temperature. The warmer an air column is, the more water it will hold. Low humidity air usually could retain more moisture. Whether high or cold, the relative humidity in any space significantly impacts how comfortable you feel. Water will not evaporate in a high humidity space, so staying calm will be difficult (the body relies on evaporation. The opposite happens in a low humidity space. Low humidity can have the following effects:
- It causes dryness in the sink and mucous membranes: evaporation is higher when the humidity is low. Thus staying in low-humidity spaces causes side effects like dry and itchy skin, sore throat, itchy eyes, and dry nose. Low humidity will also cause plants and furniture to lose moisture too fast and dry out.
- It increases static electricity: you’ll probably notice tiny electric sparks when you touch surfaces or rub your palm against things during the winter months. This experience is called static electricity. While this is not always a problem, most people find it uncomfortable. Static electricity can also damage electronics in the home.
- Low humidity makes air feel colder than it is: low humidity has the opposite effect of what you’re likely to feel during summer. In winter, when the air is dry, you will feel colder than the actual temperature in the room.
The Benefits Of Using A Humidifier
Seeing how low humidity affects humans, pets, and objects in a home, it’s easier to see the benefits of using a humidifier. This device counteracts the effects of low humidity by adding more moisture to the air. It, therefore, solves many of the issues highlighted above.
Humidifiers are not just for the days where you wake up to find your nose is a little stuffier and your throat is a bit scratchier. Humidifiers can also help manage allergies, make skin smoother, relieve pain from dry eyes or sinuses, and reduce static electricity in the air. They are relatively easy to use, and many modern ones can be set up to self-adjust.
To summarize, these are some of the main benefits of using a humidifier:
- It helps to relieve symptoms of allergies, especially during peak allergy season in spring and fall.
- It reduces sinus pressure and pain by moisturizing sensitive nasal membranes with high humidity levels.
- It relieves dry-irritated skin by adding moisture to the air and on surfaces in your home – Reduces static electricity.
- It improves indoor air quality and is particularly important for those with asthma or other lung problems. It also can help reduce symptoms of a cold by moisturizing mucous membranes inside your nose.
- It prevents cracking in lips and makes skin softer.
How Humidifiers Work
So how exactly does a humidifier do all of these? There are different types of humidifiers, all operating based on slightly different principles. But what’s common to all is that they add water to the air, which is then absorbed by small particles in the atmosphere. These tiny droplets are what makeup fog or a mist, and the humidifier fan blows these moist air droplets over the warm air to make it more comfortable.
In the simplest form, humidifying your space may be as simple as placing a pan of water on the stove or even adding a wet towel close to your heating duct. However, using a humidifier is the most effective way to get the job done. Since there are different types, their operation mechanism tends to vary from one humidifier to the other.
- How does a steam humidifier work? This is also called a vaporizer mainly because it boils water and releases mist as steam into the air. And it is the most straightforward mechanism for adding moisture into the air. Hence units like this tend to be expensive compared to others.
- How does an Impeller unit work? This type of humidifier features a rotating disc that throws water at a diffuser. This diffuser breaks the water into tiny droplets and releases them into the air in a fog-like form.
- How do Ultrasonic humidifiers work? This type of unit uses a diaphragm that vibrates at a fast ultrasonic frequency (like the elements on a high-frequency speaker) to break water into droplets and release them into the air.
- How do evaporative humidifiers work? Evaporative humidifier units typically feature a wick made from foam, cloth, or paper material which draws water out of a reservoir. The humidifier fan blows air over the wick to release moisture into the air through evaporation. Evaporative humidifiers can be self-regulatory because the rate of evaporation will drop as the relative humidity of the room increases.
Types Of Humidifiers
As explained, there are different mechanisms through which humidification devices add moisture to the air. Based on these, humidifiers can be grouped into the following categories.
1. Cool mist humidifier
Cool mist humidifiers do not use electricity to heat the water before releasing water vapor into the air. Instead, it operates based on the principles of evaporation. The fan in the unit blows over a moistened wick to liberate moisture into the air.
Cool mist humidifiers often come with a filter to trap impurities leaving only cool invisible mist to evaporate into the air. They are also much easier to clean and maintain. You will also find them more efficient in warmer climates and for humidifying larger areas.
The major downside of cool-mist units is that they tend to be noisier to operate because they depend on a rotating fan in the machine. The fact that they use filters also means you’ll spend more on maintenance, as you have to change filters to avoid a buildup of mold in the unit.
These types are perfect for allergy sufferers because they produce an ultra-fine water vapor that moisturizes the air. It also helps alleviate congestion and breathing problems caused by dry indoor air.
The benefits do not stop there! And unlike warm mist humidifiers, which use electricity to heat water to create steam, this machine operates without any heating element at all – meaning it’s safer around children and pets.
Also, they are more compact than other humidifiers, meaning it takes up less space on your desk or nightstand.
2. Warm mist humidifier
The warm mist humidifier works by releasing water vapor into the air. It contains heating elements that boil the water to disperse moisture as steam. The mist produced can warm the air slightly, although it may not be very significant.
Warm mist units are considered better for achieving a higher level of air quality as they reduce the effects of germs and bacteria. They can also be combined with some medicated products to provide relief for cough and other respiratory issues.
The warm air can also help your sinuses by nourishing them with more moisture to avoid colds from exposure to the cold. Also, warm mist humidifiers do not use an internal fan. Therefore, they are usually quieter, making them a better choice in places where silent operation is a priority.
On the flip side, warm mist units require more energy to heat water into a vapor before releasing it into the air. They also tend to get hotter to touch, which means they can be dangerous if you have kids or pets in your home.
3. Ultrasonic Humidifiers
Ultrasonic humidifiers release water droplets through vibrating mechanisms. These droplets are then circulated through a fan. The main benefit of using an ultrasonic humidifier is the silent operation. They create a cool fog while remaining virtually silent. They are also low in maintenance compared to other humidifier types.
However, ultrasonic units tend to leave behind white dust of residue, mainly if you use tap water or any other mineralized water. But there is a simple workaround to this problem. You can use distilled, filtered, or bottled water, and you can easily avoid this.
Ultrasonic humidifiers are designed to use a metal diaphragm vibrating at an ultrasonic frequency, much like a speaker. This creates water droplets that then spread into the air through its fan. These tend to be virtually silent and usually generate a cool fog. As with whole-home humidifiers, you can get the white dust settling in your atmosphere. Still, when distilled, filtered, or bottled water is used, such a problem usually does not occur. Ultrasonic humidifiers require minor maintenance and are easy to own and care for.
4. Whole-house humidifiers
Whole house humidifiers are large units designed to provide coverage for larger areas.
A whole-house humidifier can humidify an entire home. Consequently, they are pretty significant and can be challenging to move from one room to another (Some models are mount in a fixed position, as such, you can’t move them). They have large tanks (as much as 5 gallons), which means the water will last longer than smaller units.
Of course, the larger size also means more maintenance requirements. Cleaning the tank and the entire unit may be a bit challenging. You also spend a lot more on new filters and wicks. Whole house filters tend to release residues, as well, and that’s why you should use pure distilled water to fill the unit.
How to Choose the Best Humidifiers for You Need
Maintaining an optimal humidity level is essential to our health and well-being. But what should you consider when buying a humidifier? Below is a list of some critical factors that will help you make your decision.
The number one factor in selecting a humidifier is size. The first thing to consider is how big your room or the area that needs to be kept moist is. This decision should consider square footage and furniture placement and the style or design of the space. A small room might only need a small humidifier. In contrast, larger rooms may require more capacity for moisture output to maintain humidity levels throughout the space.
But you also have to consider the size of the unit itself. A humidifier needs to be refilled with water, which means the reservoir’s scope is quite essential. A small tank requires frequent refilling often, which will not be very convenient.
2. Type of humidifier:
Another primary factor to consider is the type of humidifier you want. There are four main types: cool evaporative mist, ultrasonic cool-mist, warm steam vaporizers, and Whole house units, as covered extensively in the previous section. Two significant factors that will determine which type of unit is the best for you are the purpose for buying the humidifier and where it will be used. This is in addition to all the other specific features of the humidifier type earlier mentioned.
- Where will the unit be used? The climate of the room can have an impact on the type of humidifier you will need. For example, a humidifier in a cold room may not release enough humidity into the air. So an ultrasonic or warm mist humidifier would work best.
- Purpose: Do you want your home’s indoor air quality improved? Or are you looking for a humidifier that can provide relief from dry skin and nose or throat irritation? For dry skin, a cool-mist humidifier with oil diffusers may be best. To relieve nasal and chest congestion, consider opting for a warm mist unit. It will add moisture in a way that helps to loosen mucus and clear your sinuses better.
This is not referring to the size of the reservoir or water tank. Instead, the humidifier capacity refers to how much moisture the unit can release within 24 hours. In some humidifiers, you may need to fill the tank more than once to achieve this output. Some units also have variable output capacities that allow for adjusting based on your preference. Watch out for these when making your decision.
Most humidifiers come with timers, which can be set anywhere from 15 minutes up to 24 hours. Some models come with timers that allow them to shut off once they have reached their desired humidity level or after one hour. This is an excellent feature for forgetful people who can’t remember to turn off the humidifier when they leave home.
5. Filter type:
An appropriate filter is the next most important feature to look for in a humidifier. This will depend on the style you buy and whether it uses vaporizers, steam, or ultrasonic technology. Some models come with both HEPA (wet) and charcoal activated carbon filters, while others with only one or the other.
While it may be tempting to buy the cheapest option to save money upfront, this can lead to high replacement costs and increased energy bills in the long run. A humidifier is often left running 24/hours. A low-quality cheap unit will not be unable to keep up with this.
7. Ease of Cleaning:
Cleaning is a must, or else you can get mold and bacteria build-up. It will help if you clean your humidifier at least once per week. Still, we recommend doing it more often if multiple people are living in the home. How you clean and how easy this will depend on the type of humidifier. Some units are low-maintenance, while others require special care. For instance, a humidifier with a removable tank will be easier to clean than one that is not removable.
High humidity is just as much of a problem as low humidity. Suppose your humidifier continues to add moisture to a room at some point. In that case, the air may become oversaturated, leading to a host of other issues. A humidistat ensures that this does not happen. It shuts off the humidifier when a specific humidity level is reached. However, suppose your humidifier does not have this feature. In that case, you can consider the option of monitoring it manually using a hygrometer and turning off the unit when the desired humidity level is achieved.
- Maintaining your humidifier is essential to ensure that it will continue working well and effectively. This section discusses the main things to pay attention to for cleaning and maintaining your humidifier.
How To Troubleshoot Humidifier Issues?
Many different humidifier parts can break down over time, but fortunately, they’re all easy to maintain. Find yourself running into problems or noticing some odd behavior with your humidifier. It may be helpful to troubleshoot the device by looking at these five areas:
- The water level in the water tank: Your humidifier needs a consistent water supply to operate appropriately. Some units are designed to turn off automatically if the humidifier runs out of water which is a good safety feature that helps prevent damage and hazard.
- The filter and cartridge (demineralization cartridge): If your humidifier is producing moisture that is adversely compromising the air quality of your space, check the filter and cartridge, or better still, replace them if need be.
- Check for condensation within the humidifier: If you notice excess condensation, it could signify that the unit has been overworked and needs cleaning. Cleaning out the device will also prevent mold and bacteria buildup and should be scheduled regularly.
Lastly, check to ensure there isn’t any debris clogging up the mist outlet on top of your humidifier. If you notice a blockage in this area, you may need to clean the unit out.
How to Maintain Your Humidifier
You need to take care of your humidifier, like every other appliance. It is essential because the condition of your humidifier can affect your indoor air quality. Here are a few maintenance tips to keep in mind:
- When filling the humidifier, use only distilled or filtered water to avoid introducing impurities. Never use tap water when filling your humidifier. Chlorine or other chemicals present in tap water can build up over time on surfaces inside your humidifier. Also, it would be helpful if you considered using an additive to cool the mist unit to reduce bacteria growth or mold.
- Keep an eye on your humidity levels. Some units have a humidistat that makes this more straightforward, and this will automatically adjust operation for optimal results.
- Replace the filter as needed. It would help if you did this once per season or based on the manufacturer’s instructions since this varies from one unit to the other. You should also remove lint from the air intake filters regularly. For a steam vaporizer type of unit, make sure to clean the boiler at least once a week.
- If you’re going out of town at any time, it’s a good idea to clean and empty your humidifier. You can do this by removing the water tank, opening up the base to pour out any standing water inside, and wiping down all surfaces with a sponge or cloth.
How Much Cleaning & Maintenance Does My Humidifier Need?
It’s worth noting that humidifier maintenance doesn’t have to be done very often. A general rule of thumb is once every six months or so, depending on your use level. If you live in an area with low humidity, you might need to do maintenance more often.
The frequency at which you will need to clean or replace the device also depends on the unit type.
Suppose your humidifier design includes using a wick filter or evaporative pad; In that case, this means frequent cleaning and replacing the said features. The exact frequency will depend on the size of your humidifier. Some home humidifiers are designed with a demineralization cartridge or filter, which is another type of maintenance item you might see and should pay attention to.
It’s also worth noting that different models may have more complex requirements for maintenance than others.
- Do I need a humidifier?
The answer to this question depends on several factors. Still, the most important is the relative humidity condition in your home. To prevent dry air from doing damage to your home and harming people and pets, you need a humidifier.
The best way to know if you have an emergency that requires you to getting a humidifier is by testing the relative humidity in your house with a hygrometer. Make sure that it falls between 30-50%, or else there could be some issues.
Using a humidifier is recommended in the cold winter months to prevent chapped skin, dry and cracked lips, or other respiratory infections caused by the lack of moisture in the air you breathe in. Humidifying the air is also beneficial for those with allergy issues of any kind.
- How often should I fill my unit?
It depends on specific needs and how much moisture is needed for you to feel comfortable. Generally, most people should only need about one gallon a day for their unit. Typically, the size of the reservoir will be clearly stated by the manufacturer. You can look out specifically for how often you will need to refill the unit as this will have significant impacts on how convenient using this humidifier will be
- When should I clean my humidifier?
If you find that your humidifier produces a bad smell, it may be time to clean the unit. You can soak it in vinegar throughout the night or use bleach and water. Be sure not to mix these ingredients as this will create harmful fumes! Follow the directions from your user manual for cleaning instructions if they differ from what we recommend.
- Why does my humidifier smell?
An unwashed humidifier will always smell. As such, ensure to clean the unit regularly, let’s say twice every week. Also, wash the filter and allow it to dry before replacing it with the device.
- Why is my humidifier not working?
The possible cause of the humidifier not working could be electrical failure. If you discover your device is not working, in this situation, check if you plug it correctly into the electrical socket. If this is done correctly and still not working, call a technician to help troubleshoot the problem for a solution.
With so many humidifier options to choose from, it is essential to do your research before purchasing. The best way to find a suitable unit for you and your family is by understanding how they work and what features are most beneficial for your needs. You should also be aware of any maintenance requirements and the potential benefits of using one to get the best results possible.
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