It seems like we’re all breathing a little easier now that 2020 is behind us – what a year! With this fresh start, now is the perfect time to think about breathing easier in your home, literally!
Dry air tends to be responsible for a lot of sinus pain and pressure this time of year as well as increased asthma and dust allergy symptoms. The reason for this is that dry air dries out the tissue in your sinuses and other membranes, leaving you more susceptible to infection, inflammation, and dehydration – annoying problems that can easily be remedied by installing a humidifier in your home. Humidifiers increase the moisture levels in your home by emitting either steam or water vapor, which can work wonders for anyone suffering from dry skin and other common respiratory issues and conditions, especially during the winter.
When considering a humidifier for your home there are a few options:
- Central humidifiers: These are built directly into your HVAC system and are also known as “whole house humidifiers.” They maintain the moisture levels through your entire house by adding moisture back into the air flowing into your ductwork.
- Ultrasonic humidifiers: These are popular options for people who do not have the option to install a central humidifier, though they are not nearly as effective. They draw from a reservoir of water within the unit and produce moisture through ultrasonic vibration.
- Impeller humidifiers: Also called a “cool mist humidifier,” these units release mists of water into the air. It’s important to note that these units are especially prone to develop mold so they must be kept impeccably clean to ensure that you’re not breathing in harmful bacteria.
- Evaporators: These are similar to Impeller Humidifiers but use a different mechanism to release moisture. They are also an inexpensive option but do require frequent changes to the filters.
- Steam vaporizers: These use electricity to create steam that cools before leaving the machine. If you have small children, you may want to consider another option as these contain a heating element that could cause burns if touched by little hands!
With all of these units, the primary issue to ensuring that they work properly and remain cost effective is proper maintenance. While humidifiers can be great for clearing your sinuses and allowing you to breathe easier, they can actually prove to be health hazards if they are not maintained and monitored properly. Like most appliances that deal with moisture, humidifiers that are not cleaned regularly can breed mold and bacteria which can easily be released into the air. Here are a few tips to keep your humidifier clean and running properly:
- Use Distilled or demineralized water: Distilled and demineralized water have lower mineral contents than tap water which can create deposits inside your humidifier promoting bacterial growth.
- Clean humidifier and change water often: You should clean your humidifier at least every 3 days and change the water daily to prevent film or deposits from developing inside. Unplug the unit, empty the tanks, dry the inside surfaces and refill with clean water. This is especially important if you’re using a cool-mist or ultrasonic humidifier!
- Change filters regularly: If your humidifier has a filter, change it at least as often as is recommended by the manufacturer. Change it more frequently if you can see that the filter is dirty. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to regularly change the filters in your HVAC system as well!
- Follow the instructions: If you have a whole house humidifier built into your HVAC system, be sure to read the manual or ask your A/C Masters HVAC specialist about proper maintenance.
- Replace your humidifier: This one depends on how frequently you use your humidifier, but over time bacteria and mineral deposits may become impossible to clean and remove. If you’ve had your humidifier for several years and use it frequently, it might be time to get a new one just to ensure that you’re breathing clean, fresh air that is free of bacteria.
It’s also important to monitor your humidity levels. Low humidity can make it harder to breathe, but too much humidity can make you feel congested and can also build up moisture on your walls, floors and other surfaces. Excessive moisture comes with its own problems such as mold, dust mites and bacteria that may trigger severe allergic responses or asthma flare-ups. Many humidifiers have a built in humidity level read, but if yours doesn’t you can always purchase a hygrometer to measure humidity from any hardware or department store.
Whichever type you choose, we highly recommend installing a humidifier in your home to help you breathe a little easier this winter. If you have questions about installing a humidifier in your home or how to properly maintain yours, talk to one of our HVAC specialists today by calling (757) 847-5252!