Maintaining the right humidity level in a home is important for the health and comfort of its occupants, and it can be an important element of home maintenance.
Air that is too dry can cause wood and other materials to shrink and crack. Air that is too moist can damage wall coverings, rust hinges and create a host of other issues.
Proper use of a humidifier during the winter months can help save on heating, health care and home repair costs.
Step 1: Purchase a hygrometer to measure the moisture content of the air in the home. Ideally, humidity levels should be between 30 and 50 percent. Levels above 60 percent promote the growth of mold and dust mites, while levels below 30 percent create a breeding ground for viruses.
Step 2: Cool air humidifiers eliminate the dangers associated with warm air humidifiers. Ultrasonic humidifiers are easy to maintain but can leave a fine dust of mineral deposits throughout the home. Evaporative wick humidifiers, when maintained properly, are the safest and most effective means for humidifying most homes. Calculate the square footage of the home and choose a humidifier that will cover the area adequately. Table-top humidifiers are relatively inexpensive, but the water tank will need to be refilled multiple times a day.
Step 3: Bacteriostatic water treatments that kill bacteria and mitigate lime build up are readily available and should be used each time the humidifier is filled. Without a bacteriostatic treatment, humidifiers can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Step 4: Humidifier filters should be changed at the beginning of the season and disposed of at the end of the season. Proper use of a bacteriostatic water treatment will eliminate the need to replace the filter more than once a year. Purchasing a new filter at the end of each season, before disposing of the old filter, is a good habit to get into.
Step 5: When not in use, remove the filter and empty the water from the tank and reservoir to inhibit mold and bacteria growth. Avoid storing the humidifier in an attic or garage where temperatures may get excessively high.
Step 6: Clean the humidifier at the beginning of each season with a mild bleach water solution. Use canned air or a vacuum to remove accumulated dust. If necessary, descale the water reservoir with a cleaner made specifically for use on humidifiers.