Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Humidifiers - The Secret Behind the Perfect Atmosphere

Wintertime brings chills in the air, rosy cheeks from the cold, ice on the roads, and the obvious evergreens’ beauty.  But I do not want to bring winter into my home, so I shut up my windows and crank the heat up, which means my skin begins to get dry, my throats start to hurt, and static electricity abounds.  Do you have a similar story?  Our problem – we lack a healthy humidity in our homes.  Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor in the air.  When the humidity level becomes to low, our health is affected.  When the humidity level is to high, we feel sticky. 

In addition to the already stated symptoms, low humidity can cause static electricity, cause or aggravate respiratory problems, dry out nasal passages, and make you more susceptible to colds or the flu.  Painful shocks from person to person can also be directly linked to low humidity.  When hardwood floors lose moisture, they can separate at the seams.  Houseplants will wilt and even die.  Wallpaper may start peeling at the edges.  Low humidity can cause various problems. 

Low humidity levels are often blamed on the winter season, which is usually the case; however, our artificial heating systems only enhance the problem.  Humidity levels should remain at about 30-50 percent. 
How do you reach that target zone?  Humidifiers are an easy solution.  They not only increase the humidity in a safe, water vapor form way, some can even help save on your heating bills. 

Your body feels heat by a combination of two ways: one – temperature; two – humidity.  So, the more humidity that’s in the air, the warmer you will feel.  If humidity is added to dry heated air, you can actually turn your thermostat down and be just as comfortable. 

In order to choose the right humidifier, you need to take a few things into consideration.  Obviously you will look at the cost, the cost to run the humidifier, and the cost to maintain the machine, but that is not the only consideration.  You need to know the size of room that the humidifier needs to reach.  This will help you know how large of a capacity the humidifier needs to be; in other words, how many gallons per day of operation.  You can calculate your needs by measuring the square footage of the room you want to humidify, then use the below chart to determine what size humidifier you need. Then you need to consider what type of humidifier that you need – Warm Mist? Steam Vaporizers? Cool mist?  Console Humidifier?  The warm mist humidifiers are a heating system that releases warm, clean moisture into the air.  This humidifier will slightly elevate the temperature of the room.  You can also add medication to this machine, and it will simple put it into the air. 
Steam humidifiers can be a risk in that there is actually steam exiting the humidifier, which is an obvious danger to children.  This humidifier uses two electrodes to turn water into steam.  The vapors are then released into the air to moisten the air as well as heat it. 

Cool mist humidifiers can operate in one of two ways.  Impeller humidifiers use a quickly rotating disc to shoot cool vapors into the air.  Evaporative humidifiers use a fan to move air through a filter saturated with water, which then propels cool, moist air into the room.  Both the evaporative and impeller humidifier releases moist and cool air into the room, in contrast to the other humidifiers that release heat. 
Console humidifiers work like evaporative humidifiers but they humidify the whole house. 

So, in conclusion, when contemplating which humidifier you are going to buy, remember the three main questions. 

1.How much does the humidifier cost?  How much will it cost to operate, and how much will maintenance costs be? 

2.How large of an area does the humidifier need to cover?

AreaSize of Humidifier in Gallons
500 sq. ft. or smaller1.5 – 2.0
530 – 600 sq. ft.2.2 – 2.5
700 – 800 sq. ft. 3.0 – 3.5
900 – 1000 sq. ft.4.0 – 5.0
1000 – 2000 sq. ft.7.0 – 9.0
Over 2000 sq. ft.10.0 or higher

3.  What type of humidifier do you need?
Warm Mist?  Steam Vaporizer?  Cool Mist (Impeller, Evaporative)?  Console?

Things to remember:
  • Keep the humidity in your home between 35 – 40 percent by consulting a humidistat.
  • Place humidifiers on an inside wall, away from obstructions and as close to the cold air return of your furnace as possible. 
  • Regularly clean your humidifier to prevent the buildup of minerals and to prevent bacterial growth. 
  • If your house is too humid, the warm, moist air in contact with the cold, dry surface will create water droplets because the water in the air condenses. 
  • Place your humidifier on a hard, level surface that will not be damaged by spilled water.  DO NOT place your humidifier on the carpet or a cloth.
  • Warm mist and Steam vaporizer humidifiers boil water.  Keep children away from these units.
  • Make sure to check which type of water you should put into the humidifier.  Some require certain kinds. 
  • Never put anything in the humidifier that is not recommended by the humidifier manufacturer. 
  • Do not store or leave your humidifiers for long periods of time with water in it.  Undesirable odors from fungus and bacteria growth will develop.