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Decide on the healthiest humidifier for your family. Winter is mostly the time when people think about humidifiers. However, even in warm weather or dry climates, babies, youngsters, and adults can come down with “summer” colds, and those with asthma and allergies can benefit from humidity the entire year. Humidity is simply putting moisture into the home’s air for easier breathing eliminating stuffiness and congestion in the nasal, sinus, and respiratory passages. Equally important is that the air can have too much moisture that can cause overgrowth of mildew, mold, bacteria, viruses, and dust mites. These pathogens thrive in very humid air. This is not rocket science and some units provide humidistats so you can control the amount of humidity in the air ideally between 30% and 50% while other authorities say 40% to 60%. With dry air, your humidity can drop to only 10%. You will be able to tell if your humidity is too high when your windows condensate and drip moisture where mold can grow. This guide will provide you with information for your selection for your baby and other members of your family.
Warm-Mist, Cool-Mist, Whole-House
Warm-mist humidifiers or a steam vaporizer use hot water that can cause burns and injuries if the unit is tipped or the water spills out. It’s best to use cool-mist humidifiers for youngsters. Warm- and cool-mist units are proportionately successful. By the time the vapor reaches mucous membranes and airways the vapor is the same temperature degree anyway, so it is best to use the cool-mist. Some warm-mist humidifiers use filters for blocking hard water minerals that must be cleaned and eventually replaced.
Cool-mist humidifiers are less expensive since there is no heating element for an added energy expense. These are available in three types—ultrasonic, evaporative, and impeller. Ultrasonic humidifiers operate by using a vibrating nebulizer for emitting water vapor. Evaporative units use a fan to blow air over a filter or wick, costing about $10 to replace depending on the humidifier model you choose. Impeller units use a rotating disk to disperse moisture into the air. Either type will cost from $25 to $175.
Regardless of which one you buy, the unit must be kept meticulously clean to discourage the growth of mold, bacteria, and other pathogens. Use 9 parts of water to 1 part of household bleach, rinse, and dry thoroughly.
The third type humidifier is the central whole-house system that is installed in-duct or to the forced-air furnace. These are the best, more costly, and more effective for constant humidity. They will need to be installed by an HVAC professional and are usually plumbed into the water supply for the house.
Room Size Considerations
To measure the square-feet of your room area, multiply the length by the width. If your room is 15 feet one-way and the opposite wall is 12 feet that is 15 x 12 equals 180-square feet. Now you can browse by square footage and the type of unit for your needs. A small humidifier will vaporize up to 300-square feet and a medium-sized unit will cover 300- to 500-square feet.
You can get by with a portable or tabletop humidifier or vaporizer for the small- and mid-sized rooms, where water tank refilling is more often. Be sure to check the water type to use: water from the faucet or distilled and distilled is always best.
Larger sized console-type humidifiers will cover from 500- to 1000-square feet. They are usually on casters for easy moving from one room to another. They produce a great amount of moisture in the air and are evaporative or ultrasonic types.
Again, the ultrasonic units are quieter since they use no fan and vibrate as a nebulizer. Some might have a waterfall sound or a soft boiling water hum that is more like a white noise in the background that will not interfere with your television, music, or conversations.
Larger humidifiers covering 1000+ square feet would be a great purchase with an ultrasonic console unit. When your baby is with you in different rooms, or your toddler is crawling or walking from place to place, these larger units will cover a much larger floor space. On the other hand, an evaporative humidifier can be useful, but might need to be placed away from bedrooms because they make more noise than an ultrasonic. Both of these units can be a little more difficult to move if they do not have wheels. They do not need water refilling as often as the smaller units for smaller square footage areas.
There are some very attractive models in the marketplace today that will fit in with your home or office décor.
Cleaning, Humidistats, Timers, and Using Simplicity
Keeping your unit clean is paramount to avoid bacteria. Select a unit that is easy to clean, whether the manufacturer states daily or weekly cleaning depending on the size of the unit. It’s best to empty the water daily in a small tabletop unit and to clean it only takes a little vinegar or bleach stated in the instructions you will receive with your unit. Thoroughly clean and disinfect the unit for storing when not in use. You always want a clean mist to breathe in, not a mist laden with germs.
Select a humidifier that will fit under your sink faucet or one with a removable tank for refilling with water. Choose one that fits your needs. If you select an evaporative unit, be sure the filter or wick is easy to clean and replace. You will want easy-to-understand panel controls that will display your settings and level of humidity for a tabletop or console model. Digital controls are an added convenience with some models.
Humidistats are built in for automatically shutting off the unit when it reaches the humidity level that you set. Most models will automatically shut off when the water reservoir is empty, a great safety consideration, especially for your baby’s nursery or bedroom. If the unit you are considering does not have a humidistat, several types can be purchased for around $10 to sit nearby your unit. Check out hygrometers and humidistats online for monitoring your device.
Console and tabletop units allow you to set the timer for how long you want the unit to run, then it will shut off after the allocated time.
FAQs and Tips
- You can run humidifiers 24-hours each day non-stop. Be sure the water level is appropriate.
- Never put salt into a humidifier, vaporizer, diffuser, or any device that produces a moist mist. Salt makes the water boil at a higher temperature (warm-mist) humidifiers. You will never create nature’s “ocean mist” and you will ruin metal components and have a salty mess to clean up from furniture.
- Cool-mist humidifiers are safer around babies, children, elderly, and pets because there is no heating element to boil water.
- A humidifier with a 2- to 3-gallon capacity water tank will run 12 to 16 hours before refilling. Be sure to read the instruction booklet that comes with the unit. This will be contingent upon whether you run it on a low or high setting. Fill your unit each morning for continuous daily operation. The higher the setting the quicker the water is used.
- Some cool-mist humidifiers have no visible mist and that is nothing to be alarmed about. Read you instruction booklet that will discuss this. As long as the water reservoir is decreasing its level water, you are okay.
- Practice cord safety because a cord dangling over furniture and in the walking area can be a tremendous tripping hazard.
- Always put a humidifier where a youngster, elders, and pets cannot reach it. Higher-up areas are best and avoid placing the unit close to the wall.
- Always unplug the unit when you fill it with water or clean it. The heating element on a warm-mist humidifier can burn you.
- Make sure your humidifier is impeccably clean, free of mineral build-up, dead bugs, lint, and any other debris—this will adhere to the insides and filters or wicks.
- Hygrometers tell you that you need humidity. A humidistat tells the humidifier to control the humidity at the level you set for console and portable types.
- Humidifier capacity does not mean the amount of water the reservoir holds. Capacity means the amount of moist mist dispersed into the air. Since the water tanks are smaller, you will need to refill the tank several times a day for a 2-gallon output capacity The output also depends on running the humidifier at a low or higher setting. The higher the setting, the more water is used.
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No Medical Advice
IMPORTANT: We wrote this article to be helpful with educational and informational purposes only. The information in this article is not meant to convey medical advice and does not constitute the practice of medicine. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, qualified medical advice from a professional. See our full medical disclosure for more.