Humidifiers offer welcome relief in dry, bitter winter months. Bringing moisture to the air that can help control skin and respiratory ailments common with winter weather such as chapped skin and lips, irritated eyes and throat, inflamed nasal passages, allergies, cough, and sinus headaches, heating and cooling companies know humidifiers solve a variety of problems. However, like any appliance, there are some risks to consider with humidifier use.
Humidifiers come in a variety of styles, including portable/room units and whole house humidifiers, steam, ultrasonic, and impeller models, each with their own operational intricacies and risks:
- Dirty water
Most common in portable units with a reservoir, as opposed to whole home units which take fresh water as needed via your home’s water supply, humidifiers with dirty water from filter or tank cleaning neglect can emit contaminated water into the air. This can result in flu-like ailments, or in severe cases, pneumonitis or Legionnaires.
- Excess humidity
Some humidity in the air is good, however, you can have too much of a good thing. Your local indoor air quality service can tell you lots of tales surrounding the dangers of excess humidity. Mold, mildew, bacteria, dust mites and more thrive in damp environments. With portable systems, it is not uncommon for mold to grow where moisture has continuously accumulated on nearby walls/ceilings. This can negatively impact occupant health and worsen respiratory problems.
- Mineral buildup or ‘white dust’
Pure, clean water is essential to humidifier operation and lifespan. Unfiltered, hard tap water contains high levels of particle and minerals compared to purified and distilled water. These will not only be distributed into the air and onto surrounding surfaces, aggravating respiratory issues, but can buildup up on essential humidifier components, causing them to wear down faster.
- Risk of burns
Traditional humidifiers emitting moisture via steam carry the potential risk of burns. Whole house or central humidifiers, attached to heating and AC units, however, do not emit steam. This safeguards the children and elderly, those most at-risk, from burns.
How to Handle Humidifier Concerns
Most humidifier issues result from improper maintenance and cleaning. To avoid humidifier-related issues:
- Clean all essential components per manufacturer instructions regularly.
- Change filters regularly and do not allow water to sit in the humidifier too long.
- Carefully monitor humidity levels. If your humidifier doesn’t have a built-in hygrometer, as is common with portable models, pair it with a standalone meter to safeguard proper moisture levels in your home. The EPA and Mayo Clinic recommend indoor humidity levels be kept in the 30-50% range.
- Ensure a supply of clean, pure water to your purifier. If you do not have access to distilled water, consider the addition of a reverse osmosis system.
- Remove visible scaling (mineral buildup) regularly with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.
- Opt for a whole house humidifier from your local home air conditioning company, which not only requires less maintenance, but operates more precisely, safely, and efficiently than portable models.
Patience with your portable humidifier all dried up? Contact H&H Heating & Cooling today.