Think you may need a humidifier? Wondering how they work and if there are any dangers?

Hereís some basic information about humidifiers and some advice about how to keep them from turning into dirty air deliverers.

We Know: Information and Advice about Humidifiers

How do humidifiers work?

Humidifiers help moisten the dry air in your house. Humidifiers usually work in one of two ways:

  • Evaporating humidifiers blow air over a wet wick by means of a fan.
  • Mist humidifiers heat water and then blow the mist into the air.

What kinds of humidifiers are there?

You can buy small, table-top models that are effective for one or two rooms, console models that are bigger and can humidify several rooms, or humidifiers that humidify the entire house through the ducts of you heating system. The price range is from about $50 to more than $200.

Whatís the best humidity level for my house?

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), you should maintain the relative humidity in your house at between 30% and 50%.

Humidity levels above 60% may allow moisture to build up indoors and condense on surfaces, where bacteria and fungi can grow. You can measure humidity with an instrument called a hygrometer, available at your local hardware store.

Can humidifiers cause health problems?

They can if you donít clean them properly.

Bacteria and fungi can grow in the tanks of portable and console room humidifiers and can be released in the mist. Breathing dirty mist may cause lung problems ranging from flu-like symptoms to serious infection.

How do I prevent my humidifier from spewing dirty air?

Here are some tips:

  • Change the water daily. Empty the tank entirely when you do.
  • Clean the your humidifier, including the tank, when you use it. (Unplug it when you do.)
  • Use distilled or demineralized water. Replace any filters when necessary.
  • Donít let scum or film develop in your humidifier.
  • Clean the humidifier before you store it away, and when you get it out again.

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