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Five Things to Consider When Buying a Humidifier

Having a humidifier in your home is essential in order to maintain environmental control of allergens. Dry air may bring on or exacerbate eczema, may lead to itchy or inflamed mucous membranes, and can dry out allergens which makes them more easily airborne and more readily inhaled.

Considering the following five questions before investing in a humidifier will ensure that your purchase is not only suited to your specific needs, but that it will run as efficiently and safely as possible.

Should I get a warm mist or cool mist humidifier?

In terms of humidifying the air in your home, there really is no difference between warm mist humidifiers and cool mist humidifiers. However, there are specific differences that may make either a warm mist or a cool mist unit ideal for your situation:
  • Warm mist humidifiers may be especially soothing for those who have a cold or the flu.
  • Warm mist humidifiers offer germicidal protection by boiling the water before it is released into the air.
  • The boiling water and steam emitted by warm mist humidifiers could potentially be dangerous if young children are around.
  • Warm mist can help make the cold air in your home feel warmer (although humidification in general, whether through warm mist or cool mist, will help make your home feel warmer).
  • Cool mist humidifiers are easier to keep clean.
  • Cool mist humidifiers are generally louder than warm mist humidifiers.

Air O Swiss 7135If you cannot decide between warm mist and cool mist humidification, there are a few units that allow you the option, including most Air O Swiss and Germ Guardian humidifier models. Enjoy the best of both worlds with these units that enable you to select either warm mist or cool mist humidification.

What type of humidifier should I get?

There are a few different ways that humidifiers propel moist air into your home environment. These various functions translate to different maintenance requirements for you. Before purchasing a unit, it's good to know how your unit works so that you understand how best to care for it and keep it working at peak performance. Here's a brief breakdown of humidifier types:

Air-O-Swiss 2055 Air Washer/Humidifier
  • Impeller humidifiers - Constantly rotating discs break water into ultra fine droplets. Impeller humidifiers release cool mist into the air. The Air-O-Swiss Air Washer and Humidifier turns its rotating discs into "air washing" features through its ionizing technology.
Air-O-Swiss E2441 Cool Mist Evaporative Humidifier
  • Evaporative humidifiers - These use a fan blowing over a wet wick to release moisture into the air. These are generally loud and potentially dangerous because of the breeding ground for germs they provide. However, our Air-O-Swiss E2441 is an exception in both these areas. The unit is nearly silent and has a Hydro Stick to help keep the water clean.
Air O Swiss S450 Steam Humidifier
  • Warm mist humidifiers - As mentioned above, warm mist humidifiers boil the water which is then emitted as steam.
Germ Guardian Ultrasonic Humidifier
  • Ultrasonic humidifiers - High frequency vibrations in ultrasonic humidifiers spray a cool mist fog into the area. Conveniently, the vibrations used by ultrasonic humidifiers kill most microbes.

What germicidal measures should my humidifier have?

If not properly maintained, humidifiers can actually cause more problems than they solve. Standing water can breed bacteria and mold which is then spewed into the air and inhaled. Thus, humidifiers need to be emptied and cleaned consistently. But improper cleaning in itself can also pose health hazards. When harsh chemicals such as bleach are used to clean the unit, the chemicals can become airborne and inhaled.

Due to the possible risk and the high-maintenance nature of humidifiers, manufacturers have taken measures to provide germicidal protection. (Note: These measures do not replace the need for regular maintenance.)

Some germ fighting options include:

  • Silver Sticks or Cubes and Carbon Filters - Air-O-Swiss humidifiers now use their included Hydro Cell (a carbon filter) to help keep water clean. While Pure Guardian used integrated silver ions in the tank and Stadler Form, the more traditional Silver ion Cube.
  • UV light - Kills microbes safely and effectively, but requires the replacement of bulbs.
  • Ultrasonic vibration - Kills germs at the same time as water is "shaken" into tiny droplets.
  • Boiling - Warm mist humidifiers kill germs by boiling water before it is released into the air as steam.
  • Combination - Several units include more than one germicidal feature to provide you with added peace of mind.

How many humidifying units will you purchase?

Where to Place Your HumidifierGiven the many benefits of home humidification - keeping your home's paint, wood, and furniture from drying out; offering natural relief from cold and flu symptoms; soothing irritated sinuses; and lowering heating costs by making the air feel warmer - you may decide to purchase multiple units.

For instance, if you have young children, you know first-hand how many colds they pick up during the colder months - and you know how miserable it is for them (and you) to get up in the middle of the night to tend to stuffy noses. Furthermore, given the FDA's recommendation not to give children under two years of age cough medicine or other over-the-counter cold medication, natural relief is more important than ever. Humidifiers placed in children's rooms offer significant nap-time and night-time relief.

The same goes for sick adults. Enjoy the benefits of night-time relief and the good night's sleep you require through humidification in the bedroom. Some units even feature a medicine cup for adding vaporizing cold medications.

If you're interested in cutting down on heating bills, you may consider humidifying units for other areas of your home as well. Adding moisture to the air - up to a certain level - helps the air feel warmer and lessens the need to turn that thermostat up.

What capacity should my humidifier have?

Deciding what type of capacity you want your unit to have is not as daunting as, say, deciding the same for an air purifier. Basically, the larger the capacity of your humidifier, the less often you will have to refill it. However, this must be balanced against considerations such as how easy or hard the unit is to refill, how much space you have for your unit, and how heavy the unit will be if you have to carry it to the bathroom or kitchen to refill. Many of our largest capacity humidifiers hold almost two gallons of water and can literally run for days without needing to be refilled. Our smallest unit, the portable Germ Guardian Table Top Humidifier holds slightly less than a quarter of a gallon.

For more help choosing the right humidifier, see our Humidifier Buying Guide or call one of our experienced and friendly customer service representatives at 1-800-339-7123.