Adding a whole-house humidifier to your heating and air conditioning system is something you can do yourself to improve your air quality and comfort. Did you know that a humidifier adds moisture to the air to prevent dryness that can possibly cause irritation in many parts of the body? Yes, that is right! Humidifiers can be particularly effective for treating dryness of the skin, nose, throat, and lips. Humidifiers can also ease some of the symptoms caused by the flu or common cold. But, you have to take note that overusing humidifiers can potentially worsen respiratory problems. It is important to know how to use it properly.
We also have to understand the usage of a humidifier. Humidity acts as a natural moisturizing agent that can relieve dryness. For this reason, humidifiers are often used for relieving dry skin, sinus congestion, headache, cracked lips, dry cough, irritated vocal cords, bloody noses and nose irritation. You may be prone to these discomforts when the air in your home is dry. This is usually common when an air conditioner is being used during the summer or during winter months.
There are also different types of humidifiers. You can choose depending on your preferences, budget, and the size of the area you want to add moisture to. Here are some types of humidifiers; central humidifiers, evaporators, impeller humidifiers, steam vaporizers, ultrasonic humidifiers. Usually, humidifiers are often classified as console or portable. Console units are meant to add moisture to the entire house. They are often very large in size but usually have wheels so you can easily move them around. Console units are meant toad moisture to one room. Personal (or portable) humidifiers are the smallest, and are the best choice if you need a humidifier while traveling.
For central humidifiers, they are built directly into your home’s air conditioning or heating unit. These are the most expensive types of humidifier, but they’re the best choice if you want to add humidity throughout the entire house. Traditional humidifiers carry a potential risk of burns from the steam they emit. Central humidifiers don’t emit steam. As for Evaporators, it blow moisture through a moistened filter. Fans power the unit and expel the humidity into the air from a single-unit system. Evaporators are actually more affordable than central humidifiers, but the downside about it is that they only work in one room at a time. They may also expel too much moisture into the air. This can be problematic for people with asthma, as it raises the likelihood for mold growth.
About impeller humidifiers, it work with the help of rotating disks that run at high speeds. These units are often less expensive. They’re also among the most child-friendly devices, because they create cool mist and carry no risk of burns. The downside is, like evaporators, they only work for single rooms. They can potentially cause breathing difficulties for people with allergies and asthma when they’re overused.
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Adding humidity to the air may be beneficial, but too much humidity can cause health issues. High humidity levels can worsen respiratory problems and create uncomfortable dampness in the air. This can encourage the growth of dust mites, mildew, mold, and harmful bacteria. It is highly recommended that humidity stay between 30 and 50 percent. A hygrometer can determine how much humidity is in your home. Some central humidifiers come equipped with hygrometers, but you can also find them at hardware stores. Test the humidity daily, especially if someone in your household has allergies or asthma.
Unclean humidifiers can cause bacterial growth that can promote coughs and colds. Steam vaporizers can get dirty quickly, but they’re also among the easiest to clean. Rinse out all the used water between uses. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, clean the unit regularly to prevent bacterial growth. Wash the bucket and filter system every two to three days during usage. Humidifiers can potentially emit minerals and microorganisms. They’re not necessarily harmful, but the residue can bother people with asthma. Use distilled water to avoid this problem.
Burns are the most common injuries associated with humidifiers. Take special care if you have children. Never let children handle humidifiers, and don’t place a warm-mist steamer in a child’s bedroom. Allowing a unit to expel too much moisture can create condensation on the walls. As a result, mold can grow and spread throughout the home.
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If you are wondering about where to install your humidifier, you need to decide first on where you are going to install it. Your options may be limited by your existing heating and cooling system’s set up. Again, we recommend you to follow this example installation to the end to have a better understanding of what you will be doing and then make your decision. Keep these few things in mind:
- Mount the unit on the return air duct whenever possible. You can mount to the supply side, but the system works much better on the return side and poses less of a threat to your furnace, should there ever be a malfunction involving water and electrical components.
- Make sure there is enough room above the unit to mount your humidistat. It's suggested to be at least 6" above the unit.
- Try to make the bypass connection as short and straight as possible.
- Aprilaire units are able to be flipped around so that the bypass can be on either side.
- Be sure you have room to remove the unit's cover, water pad/panel, and other parts for easy maintenance and repair in the future.
- Visualize your drain path to be sure you'll be able to maintain a downward slope towards its destination. This ensures proper drainage and prevents stagnant water from building up in the line. Again, the shorter, the better.
If you use your humidifiers with care, it can make a significant difference when it comes to dry skin and airways. However, keep in mind that this is just a home remedy, and not a medical treatment. Stop using a humidifier and call your doctor if you have symptoms that don’t improve or seem to be getting worse because of the humidifier.
To learn more about the pros and cons of having a humidifier, click here.