Do you own an air humidifier, or are you considering getting one?
Anyone who has struggled indoors throughout the dry winter months understands why they are important. But have you considered what happens when you don’t regularly change the humidifier filter?
The American Lung Association educates US citizens about hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an allergic reaction triggered by inhaled allergens. Humidifier lung can develop if you don’t maintain your air humidifier well. It’s caused by breathing in fungus growing inside the unit.
If you want to breathe fresh, healthy air, you need to take good care of your humidifier. Follow our guide and avoid the potential risks of unclean air.
We’ll explain the different types of humidifiers and their benefits, as well as telling you how to clean and maintain them. Read on!
There are many benefits to breathing humid air, and we wrote an article recently about the purpose of an air humidifier.
In winter, when we tend to have the heating cranked up, the air can get pretty dried out, compared to what we experience for the rest of the year. Some people are more sensitive to dry air than others. Often, dry air can lead to cracked skin and sinus issues.
What’s more, when the mucous in our nasal cavities dry out, we are more susceptible to respiratory infections. An air humidifier makes the air more comfortable to breathe by misting it with water. If you’re already suffering the ill effects of a cold or allergies, improved air quality and humidity is a huge relief.
The ideal indoor air humidity is between 30-50%. Generally, most people prefer 45-50%, but it’s important to note that you don’t want to let the air go above 50% humidity. That’s because the humidity in this range or higher can cause mold and bacteria growth.
Rather than run your humidifier continuously, only use it when you need it, and monitor the humidity to prevent it from rising too high.
Types of Humidifiers
If you’re about to buy an air humidifier, you should know that there are a few different kinds.
Central humidifiers are usually built into the house as part of the air conditioning system. Evaporators are small humidifiers, which moisturize the air with fans and filters. Impeller humidifiers cool the air by misting with fast-moving disks and are safe around children.
Steam vaporizers work by heating water, then forcing it to cool before it’s misted. The mists have the potential to cause burns, especially if you have children in the house.
Ultrasonic humidifiers release moisture via vibration. A cool mist version is available that is safe around children.
The placement of your air humidifier is important. Since not all models are the same, advice may differ – always default to your manufacturer’s manual for the final word.
Raising the humidifier off the floor is a good idea to avoid the unit getting kicked over and sending water everywhere. At least two feet off the ground on a table in the middle of a room works well. Putting the air humidifier on an absorbent mat is a good tip since if it gets knocked, your furniture might be saved from spills.
Some users like to put their unit on top of a dresser or other furniture item, but take care if you choose this. If you place a tall humidifier that mists upwards, high up on furniture, make sure that excess moisture isn’t hitting the ceiling.
How to Clean a Humidifier
Refer to the guidelines supplied with your air humidifier for the instructions specific to your model. Not all units work the same way, so what follows is general best-practice advice.
Advice varies on how often you should clean your air humidifier, and this will also depend on the frequency of use. Ideally, cleaning your unit after every use is optimal and in doing so, make sure that the water tank is bone dry before the next use. If this isn’t practical, aim to clean it every three days or at least once a week.
When replacing the tank water, don’t fill it from the tap – use distilled or demineralized water instead. Distilled water is evaporated and collected to make it pure and free from most minerals, viruses, and bacteria. Demineralized water may still contain viruses and bacteria, so it’s the second-best option.
You should replace the water daily because standing water may develop mold, bacteria, or fungi.
If you don’t clean your humidifier every few days, you’ll get a white buildup inside, known as scale. If not removed, this can become airborne and negatively affect your health.
Use a manufacturer-approved cleaning solution, such as water and vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Be very careful if using a strong chemical like bleach because any chemicals left behind in the tank may cause adverse health effects.
If your air humidifier is old and hasn’t been cleaned regularly, consider replacing it.
Replacing the Humidifier Filter
Your humidifier filter is designed to stop microbes from entering the air. If you don’t regularly change them, these microbes will build up until they can’t be held back from contaminating the air!
For this reason, you need to follow the directions in your humidifier manual in regards to changing the filters on time. If you cannot find this information, a good guide is to change them at least once every three months and time it at the start and end of a season, like in winter.
Your Air Humidifier
We’ve shown that your air humidifier can relieve and help prevent respiratory illnesses when properly maintained. Don’t dispense unhealthy particles and bacteria into the air because you didn’t change your humidifier filter regularly!