What is a Humidifier?
Humidifiers are machines that add moisture to the air, usually in order to combat a dry, arid environment. There are many different types of humidifiers, but they all have the same function; control humidity.
How Safe Is A Humidifier?
One main concern on many people’s minds in terms of humidifiers is whether or not the device is safe. No one wants to bring an unsafe appliance into their home and affect the safety of their family.
To ensure the safety of your humidifier, it is important to purchase product that UL or ETL tested.
UL, or Underwriters Laboratories, is an independent organization that writes and tests products for safety. To be UL approved means that the product has been put through safety tests and has passed all of them.
ETL is another testing laboratory that has been conducting safety tests since the 1800s. ETL listed products have been tested and have met all of the minimum requirements for the U.S. product safety standards. Both of these certifications mean that a humidifier is safe for your home and your family.
Risks of Using a Humidifier
For the most part, owning and operating a humidifier is inherently safe, and here are many benefits of using one in your home.
The risks that humidifiers present are usually not caused by the humidifier itself, but from improper use and maintenance of the humidifier.
The most common mistakes owners make when using a humidifier are;
- Irregular Cleaning: A humidifier typically needs to be cleaned after every use. If a humidifier is not properly cleaned after every use, harmful bacteria and pathogens can be released into the air.
- Not Changing Water: The water needs to be changed in the humidifier every time the humidifier is turned off. There should never be water left standing in the humidifier. Standing water is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, that once turned on again, the humidifier will release into the air.
- Not Checking Filters (if applicable): If the humidifier has a filter, it needs to be regularly checked, cleaned and replaced. If it is not, the filter will not do its job of filtering harmful contaminants. These contaminants will end up in the air you are breathing, if the filter is not clean.
- Using Tap Water: Tap water contains harsh minerals that can form deposits in the humidifier. These deposits allow for the growth of harmful bacteria, as well as produce “white dust”, a common problem in humidifiers.
Because humidifiers use water to moisten the air, there are certain risks involved when water is left standing in the humidifier.
- Warm, still water can grow harmful bacteria and mold that when then used will be released into the air. This can trigger asthma attacks in asthmatic people, or trigger cold and flu like symptoms for those that are sensitive to allergies. Even people with excellent immune systems can face serious uncomfortable symptoms resulting from mold, fungi, and bacteria in the air.
- There is some concern about the “white dust” that can be released from a humidifier that usually occurs when the water has too many un-dissolved minerals in it.
Both of the above problems can be solved by using distilled or demineralized water in the humidifier.
Tap water has minerals that deposit inside the humidifier and can promote growth of harmful bacteria. Also, white dust is caused by the minerals and deposits found in tap water. Using distilled or demineralized water can eliminate these problems.
Maintaining Your Humidifier
Regular maintenance is essential to keeping your humidifier running properly. Before buying a humidifier, read about the model’s maintenance plan to ensure the upkeep is one you want to commit to.
- In general, humidifiers need to be cleaned after each use.
- The inside of a humidifier should be wiped down in order to prevent the accumulation of minerals and bacteria. Humidifiers should also have their filters replaced at least once every season.
- Filters begin to discolor whenever they collect debris from the atmosphere, so whenever you noticed your filter losing its pristine color, it’s time to change it.
- Use distilled or demineralized water to avoid white dust and bacteria growth.
- Change the water after every use.
If properly maintained, humidifiers are very safe to own and use. Choosing to use a humidifier comes with an assortment of benefits including; reduced allergies, reduced infections, and increased comfort level of the home. Keeping your home’s humidity between 30% and 50% is essential for health and comfort, and using a humidifier is a safe and effective way to do so.