A Complete Buying Guide to a Humidifier

You may not consider it as highly important, but air quality around you is one of the essential conditions which contributes to your overall health.

Negative attributes can cause health issues and trouble, therefore be always aware of your surroundings.

These may sound scary at first, but don’t worry there is a solution to every problem and this problem’s solution is called humidifier.

In general, you want to focus on three key indicators:

  • freshness
  • cleanliness
  • humidity

It’s understandable that the air outside is more beneficial for us, richer in oxygen and contains fewer pollutants than our “home” air, however, the outside air isn’t clean and without particles either, so it should be filtered as well.

As far as humidity is concerned, you should try to keep relative humidity between 40-50%. This way you limit the occurrence of dust mites, mold, mildew and bacteria.

During winter, you should keep humidity even at lower rates, 30-40% so you avoid window and surface condensation. You wouldn’t want to gather humidity at one spot. Nonetheless, it’s highly probable that your home features high humidity because this is an issue which is present in many homes, buildings and structures.

Humidifier Guide

How Humidifier Works

A humidifier is a machine that affects humidity and can help improve your everyday life.

It basically adds moisture to the air and thus pushes low humidity levels of dry air into the desired range which was mentioned above. This little helper can fight congestion, dry skin, sinus discomfort and even influences static energy. [source]

You see there are many factors that humidifiers can improve so you should think hard before choosing once. Take all the pros and cons and most of all your requirements into consideration. Some people have problems with dry skin others with congestion, pick the one that suits your needs.

We will get to the different types of humidifiers in a minute.

Before First Use

Let’s imagine that you have already chosen one and it has come to your doorstep.

The first thing you should do, after opening the package, is read the manual. This part is immensely important since different humidifiers have different features and thus are operated differently.

Always remember to read the manual thoroughly!

In addition, it will help you while assembling the machine. A humidifier can have different additional parts, such as wheels or different mist openings. Be sure to clean the water container in your sink before the first usage. Just simply run water over it and clean any visible dirt or stains.

Once cleaned, add distilled water to the reservoir.

It’s possible that your humidifier will allow tap water as well; however, by distilled water, you can be absolutely sure there won’t be any additives.

Fill the container up to the mark, if you need to add a filter directly to the water, do so and you are set to go.

Where to Place Humidifier

Cool Mist HumidifierAs far as positioning is concerned, find a nice smooth and level surface, at least 12 inches away from walls, to put your humidifier on.

It’s also a good idea to pick a higher spot with nothing underneath or above the area of effect. Plug it into a socket and turn on the humidifier.

Depending on the model you have selected, you may have additional settings. Some knobs and buttons may be available for adjustment. This way you can set settings to your custom preference, plus if you get confused feel free to read the manual again.

In addition, there may be spaces destined for oils, aromas and vapor rubs. This would be the perfect time to add them. When you aren’t in the room, turn of your humidifier, it shouldn’t be used in an empty room.

How to Clean Humidifier

In terms of cleanliness, try to clean it twice a week if you are using it regularly to avoid bacteria growth.

Nonetheless, occasional users shouldn’t ignore this aspect either, since mold and bacteria can spread in a blink of an eye. You can use water and soap for everyday cleaning, but hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar should kill any developing bacteria during a more detailed washing.

Evaporative vs. Ultrasonic Humidifier

Now, let’s talk about the different types of humidifiers available on the market. The two most popular are ultrasonic and evaporative humidifiers. The goal of both of them is the same, however, in some cases, or rather homes, a certain type might be better suited.

Evaporative Humidifier

An evaporative humidifier is the simpler from these two in terms of construction.

To put it in other words, this type of humidifier consists only of three main parts: a fan, a wick, and the water container.

Thanks to the internal fan it’s able to pull air from the outside, transfers it to the wick filter filled with the water from the reservoir. The air takes in some of the moisture and is then thrown into the outside world again. This time a little richer in terms of humidity and thus helping your environment to get to that 40-50% mark.

Moreover, it can be self-regulated, since the air that is being enriched already has some level of humidity itself. The wicker calculates the data and adds a given dose of water that is needed for optimal moisture of the air.

Pros
  • Simpler construction
  • Cheaper
  • Safer for children and pets
Cons
  • Operating noise from fan
Be careful to change the filters once they have ceased to carry out their function. If you don’t have a routine already built up, check this part of equipment regularly for any signs of weaker durability. This is certainly a vital point to follow because filters play an essential role in the distribution of moisturized water.

Ultrasonic Humidifier

An ultrasonic humidifier has a water reservoir that serves as the primary source of moisture.

The difference is that this time we can find a metal plate that moves at ultrasonic frequencies. These vibrations are extremely powerful, so much that they are able to break water particles.

Once the particles are in such state, they change into a cooling vapor which is invisible to the naked eye and exits into the room without anyone noticing it. On the plus side, they are quieter than the before-mentioned evaporative version.

Pros
  • Quiet
  • Almost invisible
  • Energy efficient
Cons
  • Produce white dust
  • A bit expensive
However, they produce white dust, whose occurrence is linked to minerals in the water which can eventually be mixed with the end product into the air. This can be easily handled by regular maintenance.

When deciding on whether to buy one or another, you should pay attention to multiple factors such as cost, noise, and most importantly your needs and the room in which the humidifier will run.

Warm Mist vs. Cool Mist Humidifiers

There is also another distinction in terms of humidifiers that you can take into account. Based on the attributes of the vapor they are releasing into the air, we distinguish warm mist humidifiers and cool mist humidifiers.

Cool Mist vs. Warm Mist

Cool Mist Humidifiers

Cool mist humidifiers are typical for their considerably cooler end product and are available as evaporative as well as ultrasonic types. They have a great radius of an effect since, for example, an ultrasonic cool mist humidifier is able to increase the moisture in large rooms and in some cases even entire houses.

In addition, they have lower consumption of electricity because the water isn’t warmed before dispersal into the air. For many parents, this is the choice to go with as you can avoid using hot water around babies. If you are thinking about an evaporative version, know that they use a fan to populate the room with a cool mist and thus are a little bit noisier.

Warm Mist Humidifiers

As for warm mist humidifiers they use an internal heating system that raises the temperature of the released mist which is similarly very discreet.

In addition, the boiling eliminates all bacteria or mold that might be present in the water before letting it out for you to breath. Contrary to cool mist humidifiers, these are best suited for smaller rooms, offices and more intimate settings such as bedrooms, not entire houses.

The boiling process is an essential part of the humidifier which occurs during every usage, every time you turn on the product and therefore, a more detailed approach to cleaning is needed since you can find mineral deposits in it. Nonetheless, many have grown fond of this warm mist releaser mainly during cold months and in colder environments.

Health Benefits of Humidifier

Let’s get into health benefits of humidifier a little bit more in detail.

I know I have foreshadowed some of the advantages linked with humidifiers, but this paragraph will dive deeper into this topic. There are several basic health benefits that may contribute to your overall fitness.

Reduce risk of infection

First of all, the usage of humidifiers reduces the risk of infections. This is mainly due to the fact that bacteria can’t travel effectively in moist air conditions and therefore, there is a smaller chance of getting sick.

Softer and more vivid skin

Number two, on our list, is a softer and more vivid skin. Dryness was already mentioned before, but I would like to emphasize this one more time, as dry skin during winter time is a common and widespread issue for both women and men as well.

Cracks in your skin or fast paces aging can be avoided with the help of this air releaser which will give a younger and fresher appearance.

Comfortable sinuses

Do you have trouble with your sinuses during winter or all year around? A well-placed humidifier can help you with this issue, too. That uncomfortable feeling when you wake up with dried out sinuses or hoarse voice after a good night sleep can be easily avoided.

Humidifiers can, in fact, help you recover faster and easier from the above-mentioned infections, flu or dry sinuses.

Protect your belongings

In addition, they also have the ability to protect your belongings. Plants, in particular, can greatly benefit from correct humidity levels and thus catch toxins out of the air. However, this is only possible when plants are in top form, too.

Dried out soil and leaves can be boosted by humidifier usage and provide your apartment or house plants with ideal conditions. This will then contribute to your overall healthiness. Nevertheless, not only living inhabitants are affected by bad humidity, furniture that has spent a vast majority of time in such circumstances can have mold or cracks hidden inside.

Humidifiers can influence the financial aspect of your household as well because moist air feels warmer and therefore you won’t feel the need to turn on heating which will eventually translate into lower bills after the winter season.

Dehumidifier

DehumidifierThe last topic I would like to talk to you about is the opposite situation, a room that needs less humidity, a room that needs a dehumidifier.

In the beginning, we have discussed certain levels of humidity that are recommended.

The basic signs of high humidity according to Healthline.com are:

  • musty odor
  • allergic symptoms to mold and dust mites
  • growth of mold
  • cupped wood floors
  • the feeling of stickiness or mugginess
  • condensation and water stains
  • wallpaper coming down

So far we have described the conditions that are less favorable to moist air, but every coin has two sides and you can find yourself in a place that would need dehumanization.

The first and probably the most notable sign of high humidity in your home is visible condensation on your interior windows. Be sure to check the conditions in these rooms, if you encounter this phenomenon often, as such conditions are excellent for mold and fungus growth or the starting point for the rotting process.

Tip: Open a window to let the air inside, to create better circulation.

How and Where to Use Dehumidifier

When using a dehumidifier, remember to change its position and use it in all the rooms that may be exposed to exceeding moisture. If you haven’t caught this in the beginning, it’s quite possible that you may find mold spots on the ceiling, in the basement and over your walls.

Rooms where hot or boiling water, that creates steam, is used are often struck. Steam is lighter and therefore rises to the ceiling, that’s why you find mold spots mainly up there. However, if bad conditions persist be sure to check other places as well.

At this stage, a dehumidifier can help ease the effect, but the core problem needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Apart from visual leads, you may also smell the mold’s specific odor which is also an indication that something isn’t right.

If you don’t see the mold but smell it, start looking for it because if not treated it can get only worse with time!

So there you have it, a humidifier can help you live a healthier life but if the humidity in your house is at sky levels try to use a dehumidifier or improve air circulation.

Be always aware of the circumstances you live in and choose a product accordingly. I hope all of this information gave you a little bit of insight into the world of healthy air and that you will make your living conditions as comfortable as possible.

Martin Martens

I have graduated electronics and information systems at Ghent University. I like to learn new things in the field of technology and apply it in our household. I'm also a passionate traveler. Read more...

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