When you grow up somewhere with four seasons, you have fond memories of thing like the first snowfall of the year and going ice skating with your family.
The thing you forget about every year, however, is how dry your skin would get in the wintertime. This is because of the low level of humidity when it gets colder.
Now, as an adult, it’s up to you to prevent your family from suffering from the same.
A properly maintained and clean humidifier pad has other benefits too. These include preventing bloody noses, making your home less likely to harbor bacteria and purifying the air that you breathe.
Read on to find out exactly what a humidifier pad is and why you need to concern yourself with its maintenance.
What is a Humidifier Pad and How Does it Work?
The humidifier pad is sometimes also referred to as a water as a water panel, evaporator, humidifier filter or water pad.
The way a humidifier works is by blowing air over a source of water, which in the humidifier is the water panel. This air retains moisture from the water panel and is then released into your home.
Most home humidifier filters are made from an aluminum honeycomb mesh coated in liquid clay. While the honeycomb design is ideal for creating a large surface to absorb water, this large surface is also where mineral and particle deposits occur over time.
Why do you need a humidifier filter?
Very simply, your humidifier will not work if it does not have a filter. Otherwise, it would not actually do anything to improve the quality of the air in your home.
When the Air Quality Index levels for where you live are low, running a humidifier also helps to purify the air. Again, this will only be effective if you have a clean filter installed in your humidifier.
What is the Air Quality Index?
Two statistics that you’ll often hear when looking at humidifiers are the Air Quality Index (AQI) and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).
The AQI reports the level of pollution in the air and what the health concerns of that index are. The idea of the AQI is to keep people alert to the possibility of negative health effects as a result of breathing polluted air.
The AQI factors in five major pollutants: ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.
The index is given as a number between 0 and 500 which higher levels of pollution corresponding to a higher index. In relatively clean cities, you will find an AQI in the green zone between 0-50. However, in larger industrial cities, these results are logically higher.
The AQI starts to issue warnings at 100 as being unhealthy for at-risk groups such as infants or the elderly and an AQI over 300 is unhealthy for everyone.
Indoor Air Quality
Some people mistakenly have the idea that if they stay at home with the windows closed, they are avoiding the problem of bad air quality. However, this could not be further from the truth. A study by the EPA found in-home air quality to be two to five times worse than outdoors.
Ironically, this is the result of our modern-day tendency to keep ourselves in a confined environment. Furthermore, necessary activities like cooking and cleaning add smoke and other Volatile Organic Chemicals (VODs) to our home environments.
I know what you’re thinking, your family members have just found the perfect excuse for ordering in every day. But before they get too excited, remind them that many of the materials used to build homes, not to mention the furniture, all release potentially harmful VODs.
In fact, it seems more and more that by keeping our home shut to the outdoors, we’re actually trapping many pollutants in with us!
If you’re concerned about your IAQ levels, there are many products on the market that will monitor or test your home’s air quality. Additionally, more and more we are seeing products that that will help you keep yourself and your family healthy.
What are the Dangers of Poor Indoor Air Quality?
And the effects of poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) are not to be ignored. According to the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), prolonged exposure to poor IAQ can have negative effects on one’s health and self-esteem.
OSHA goes further to say that spending time in places with poor IAQ atmosphere whether it’s from poor ventilation, mold from water damage or even uncomfortable temperatures can affect one’s health.
The result for people in buildings with poor IAQ. Everything from headaches and fatigue at the beginning to fever and shortness of breath if the problem persists. Although their studies have focused on workplaces, it’s clear to see that we need to work hard to keep the air in our homes clean.
How Often Do Humidifier Filters Need to be Replaced?
The best way to keep the air in your home clean? Keeping to a frequent cleaning and replacement schedule for your humidifier filters.
Most manufacturers recommend that filters are replaced once per season. Other people say that replacing your filters once or twice a year is sufficient but of course, this depends on situational factors.
The air that comes through the filter will have different sized particles depending on the air quality not just in your city, but in your home as well. These particles can clog the holes in the filter’s mesh preventing the filter from working as efficiently.
How to Replace Your Humidifier Pad
We know it may be your first instinct to reach for the phone with something like this, but removing your humidifier pad whether to clean or replace it, is really quite simple!
First, you need to remove the cover. Covers usually are released by a button along the side of the unit or some newer ones are designed with a pressure panel to release the cover.
Next, locate the enclosure that contains the humidifier filter.
Remove the old filter from inside the enclosure and pop the new one in its place. Finally, replace the filter enclosure and humidifier cover and you’re all set.
Cleaning Your Humidifier Filter
Along with replacing your humidifier filter, ideally, you should be cleaning it on a monthly basis. If you’re filling your humidifier with hard water, then you should actually be cleaning it on a weekly basis for it to remain effective at maintaining a comfortable atmosphere and clean air in your home.
One method to safely clean your humidifier is with vinegar. With its natural acidity, it is an ideal cleaning product for disinfecting the filter. Do note that if you are prone to seasonal and dust allergies, you may want to wear a face mask when opening your humidifier and cleaning the filter.
To begin, unplug your humidifier from the wall, remove the tank and drain the water from the tray. Now each device is different, so you will want to consult your owner’s manual on how to disassemble the filter from the machine.
In a bucket or separate container mix distilled white vinegar and water in a ratio of 1:2. Place the filter inside the bucket so that it is completely submerged.
Use a brush and gently scrub any mold or mineral deposits that you find along the filter and then leave it to soak in the vinegar bath for an hour. Double check the filter for any remaining dirt and then rinse it out and before putting it back into your humidifier.
If you do not have vinegar in the house, you can opt to use bleach instead. As it is a much stronger chemical, you’ll want a much higher ratio of water to bleach. We recommend adding just one teaspoon of bleach for every gallon water.
Additionally, clear the area that you will use to clean the filter since bleach will damage your things in the event of a spill.
Make a Schedule for Replacing Your Humidifier Filters Now
So why is now the best time to replace your humidifier pad?
Simply because right now it’s on your mind. If you don’t replace it now, chances are you will completely forget until the first cold weather hits. The problem with that is that everyone else will be scrambling to stock up on cold weather supplies at the same time.
Avoid the headache and order a new humidifier filter while it’s still fresh on your mind.