Humidifiers are an essential component of any allergy sufferer's
environmental control regimen. Proper humidification can provide significant relief from dry and irritated sinuses, stuffy noses,
dry skin, and itchy eyes. In addition, humidifying your home can prevent the exacerbation of eczema, help to lower heating costs, and protect
furniture and wood floors from the effects of over-drying.
Purchasing a humidifier is a sound investment in the health
of your family, your budget, and your home, but once you have your humidifier, how do you get the most from it? Humidifiers do require
regular and thorough maintenance; without it, they not only don't run efficiently, but they pose a serious health risk. Bacteria
and mold that can easily breed in an unmaintained humidifier are propelled into the air and inhaled - obviously a terrible situation
for those with allergies, who are already more sensitive than others.
While many units feature built-in germicidal measures, such as using silver to purify water or zapping microbes with UV light,
it's important to know that these are NOT a substitute for regular cleaning. Furthermore, pay attention to what you clean your units
with is also important. Using bleach may seem instinctive in order to cleanse your humidifier of any mold or bacteria; however, in
addition to the fact that bleach's harsh fumes are never good to inhale, if the humidifier isn't cleaned properly, vaporized bleach
will be impelled into ambient air and inhaled each time the unit is running. Consider using white vinegar to clean instead.
Aside from keeping your humidifier free of microbes and germs, minerals can also build up in the tank and in the machine itself.
One handy product that works to remove mineral build up in almost all humidifiers is
EZ Cal Cleaner and
Descaler by Air-O-Swiss. This simple, dissolvable packet removes
mineral build up and other contaminants from your humidifier. When finished,
rinse and you're ready to use the humidifier again. Each box comes with three packets, and it's recommended to use EZCal every two weeks. That
will vary though, depending on the mineral content of your water.
Following is a basic checklist of areas you need to consider when it comes to maintaining your humidifier. Be sure to consult
the owner's manual and specific maintenance guide pertinent to your particular unit.
||Replacement parts - Know what parts of your humidifying unit will need regular replacing. For instance,
does your unit feature UV bulbs or, in the case of some Air-O-Swiss humidifiers,
Mineral Pads, HydroStick or demineralization cartridge? Other possible parts
that may need replacement are evaporator wicks,
discs, and filters. Again, make sure to familiarize yourself with your unit's unique features. It's a good idea to always have replacement parts on hand so your unit is ready to use when you need it.
||Cleaning - It's a good rule of thumb to thoroughly clean your humidifier at least once a week. Empty your unit,
fill it with a mix of water and white vinegar in a 4:1 ratio, let it stand for about half an hour, and rinse completely.
||Water type - Ideally, your unit should be filled with fresh water daily. Repurpose old water by watering
plants with it. In addition, using distilled water will minimize mineral deposits that may form around your unit or
produce buildup within it. With certain types of humidifiers, specific types of water work better. For instance, if you have softened water,
consider and evaporative humidifier, as the sodium in softened water can damage the components of an ultrasonic humidifier.
||Storage - Before putting your unit away when humidifying season
(usually the winter time) is over, be sure to thoroughly clean your unit and dry it completely. You should
also do this at the beginning of the season before you use your humidifier.