There’s a renewed focus on maintaining healthy indoor air quality in public spaces and at home. Using a humidifier is one way to keep indoor humidity levels in a safe range at home year-round. For homeowners, choosing the right type of humidifier and using it in close collaboration with your HVAC system can make every room in your house more comfortable and keep your family healthy!
What Does a Humidifier Do?
Humidifiers slowly release water vapor into the air. Adding moisture to the air increases your home’s humidity level to recommended levels. The EPA recommends indoor humidity levels remain under 60% and ideally between 30 and 50%.
When indoor humidity levels are too high or too low, you’ll know it.
- Low humidity often causes respiratory problems like dry eyes, nose, and throat. For those with underlying conditions, low humidity may exacerbate existing symptoms, such as asthma.
- High humidity can cause mold and mildew growth on walls, windows, and other areas of your home. Elevated moisture levels can also accelerate bacteria growth and make irritation caused by dust and allergens worse.
What Type of Humidifier Do I Need?
There are several types of humidifiers available. Using a portable humidifier for houses in dry climates may not provide enough moisture to alleviate symptoms of low indoor humidity. Your local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning technician can help you choose the right humidifier for your home and climate.
Some of the most common types of humidifiers are:
- Integrated Central Humidifier – Homes in dry climates may have a whole home humidifier built into their HVAC system. This is often the most expensive route, but it’s a good investment for families living in desert or cold climates with long periods of low humidity.
- Impeller humidifier – Impeller models emit a subtle cool mist using rotating disks. These are often relatively large units, although some may be portable.
- Steam Vaporizer – Perhaps the most common and affordable option, a vaporizer pushes steam through an exhaust port to increase the humidity of a single room. Steam vaporizers are light and portable, making them ideal for homes with seasonal low humidity.
Evaluating Your Options
Not sure how much humidifiers costs? There’s a wide range of options. Portable humidifiers are inexpensive, usually between $30 and $100. That’s certainly less than a whole house humidifier, which starts at around $200 and can cost up to $1,000. Still, there are some trade-offs, particularly in maintenance.
Dirty Humidifiers Can Be Trouble
Any dirty humidifier can cause health problems, but you’ll need to change the filter on a whole-house humidifier much less often than a portable model. Dirty humidifiers can result in a gradual buildup of bacteria, mold, and mildew. The normal function of the humidifier – to diffuse water vapor efficiently – causes these irritants to spread quickly throughout the home.
You can use portable humidifiers safely if you follow these tips:
- Keep it clean – Plan to clean the humidifier every 3-5 days with a wet rag and soap. You’ll need to unplug the unit, remove the water reservoir and wipe down the entire surface area. Some manufacturers recommend using a solution of about 3% hydrogen peroxide and water or bleach. Be sure to follow the owner’s manual!
- Replace the water daily – Letting water sit for long periods can result in bacteria and mold buildup. Replace the water before every use, empty the reservoir before traveling, or put the unit away for the season if you don’t use it all year.
- Change the filter on time – Some humidifiers include a filter. Replace or wash the filter regularly to reduce the risk of mold and bacteria. We recommend you change your humidifier filter as often as you change your HVAC system’s filter, which should be every 1-3 months.
Just the Right Spot: Humidifier Placement
Get the most out of a portable humidifier by placing it in the correct room in your home. Keep it away from air purifiers to avoid getting the paper filter wet. You can place your humidifier upstairs or downstairs, depending on where you spend the most time. Ideally, we’d recommend putting your humidifier in a central area of your home that doesn’t already have sources of humidity, such as the basement or bathroom.
To start, try using your humidifier in:
- A central hallway that connects to bedrooms or home offices
- The living room
- Near a staircase, so moisture can travel to the second story
Punctual, Professional HVAC Experts Are a Breath of Fresh Air
From choosing a humidifier to evaluating your home’s indoor air quality, you can count on the trained technicians at One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning to provide exceptional service with every visit. Take control of your home’s air quality and HVAC system. Request an appointment or call (800) 893-3523 today!