The How-To's of Humidifying
Why use a humidifier?
Humidifying an area keeps the air from drying to the point where it begins to cause damage. Extremely dry air can damage furniture, electronics (through static build-up), and even your skin and hair. Exposure to dry air can aggravate respiratory problems, too. Most humidifiers can be adjusted to keep the moisture in the air to a level that you find comfortable and that fits your situation - perfect for both dry winter months and in arid climates.
Higher humidity also helps your body feel warmer. Keeping a room at 40% relative humidity instead of 20% with a humidifier will make the room seem several degrees warmer. When the air feels warmer, you can turn down the central heat to save money.
How does dry air affect my body and furniture?
Without proper humidity levels, the air becomes "thirsty" for water. In this state, air will actually absorb moisture from any object it can, including wooden furniture, your skin, and your hair.
With too little moisture, wooden furniture will become brittle and crack. Similar things will happen with your body. Too little moisture in the air causes your skin to become dry and cracked. Your hair will dry out and show split ends, frizz, and feel brittle.
Furniture finish delays the furniture problem, while applying lotion and conditioner to skin and hair will slow the damage to your physical person. However, these measures are only temporary ways to mask the problems that accompany dry air.
How do I run a humidifier?
Basic operation is very simple. First, fill the unit's tank with water. Then just plug it into an outlet and turn it on to begin the humidifying process. The water will need to be refilled periodically during operation.
Most models come with a variety of features such as timers and target humidity levels that you can program - check your user's guide to learn how to use these settings.
What is the different between a warm mist humidifier and a cool mist humidifier?
Warm mist humidifiers have a heat element that produces a warm, soothing vapor. Because of the steaming process, they do not cause minerals to be deposited into the air, so you can use tap water without concern. However, because of the high temperature of the water, they are not recommended for those with young children.
In contrast, cool mist humidifiers producing water vapor through a rapidly turning a disk inside the water tank. A filter is used to trap minerals and impurities, and because the vapor is not heated, there is no risk of burning. Cool mist is a better choice if you're hoping to alleviate dry air in the summer, since it won't raise the temperature in the room.
Will cool mist humidifiers cause health problems?
As long as the humidifier is kept clean, it should not cause any problems with your health. While cool mist units do not boil water like the warm mist ones, a standard cool mist humidifier uses a synthetic, anti-bacterial pad to evaporate water.
As an alternative, ultrasonic humidifiers create water vapor by transmitting energy through the water with high-frequency vibrations. These ultrasonic vibrations, which are above the range human and most animal hearing, also help kill bacteria, so the mist produced is clean and pure.
What noise level can I expect from my humidifier?
An ultrasonic humidifier is virtually silent. There are practically no moving parts included, and the ultrasonic vibrations are high frequency, beyond the range of your hearing.
Cool mist and warm mist humidifiers depend on a fan to push moist air into the room, producing a small amount of noise.
A few humidifiers still use a water pump to push water from the tank into the evaporation chamber. These produce a sound likened to a fish tank without bubbling, but these still are not loud.
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