Humidifiers have found their way into the majority of households across the United States. It is well-known that they are beneficial to people’s health in numerous ways. But not many know what happens if you don’t use them properly. Here, we answer all the burning questions about them, such as how to take care of one properly, how to use it to your advantage, and ultimately — can you use tap water in a humidifier?
Can Humidifiers Be Dangerous?
A device that helps items in your home last longer and also improves your health is undoubtedly a worthwhile investment. However, what many users do not know is that, if misused, humidifiers can seriously put people’s health at risk and cause mold buildup on the walls. To prevent that, you need to take special care when it comes to maintaining these devices.
Clean Your Humidifier Regularly
Humidifiers use water to work. That means that the inside of these devices is a suitable breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Therefore, you need to clean all of the parts of a humidifier thoroughly every three to five days.
That includes meticulous cleaning of the reservoir and regular filter change. Otherwise, it can lead to the formation of mineral deposits in the device. Bacteria and mold spread easily on such porous mineral surfaces.
As a result, every time your humidifier releases water vapor or mist, those harmful particles will come along with it. That puts you at risk of breathing them in. Doing so may harm your health.
Here are some of the symptoms to look out for:
- A full-on asthma attack
- Allergy attacks
- Irritable cough
- Shortness of breath
- Lung inflammation
- General malaise
The symptoms will go away soon after you get rid of their cause. But long exposure to harmful vapors from a dirty humidifier could lead to long-term health problems. The most common ones are lung scarring, weight loss, and even some chronic ailments.
Keep Track of Humidity Levels in Your Home
Indoor humidity levels are particularly important when it comes to the proper use of your device. The optimal moisture levels will vary from one season to another. Generally speaking, they should not go over 50% in the summer. As for winter, 25–40% humidity is considered ideal.
If humidity levels are too low, you will experience dry mouth, lips, nostrils, and throat. You will also likely have occasional dry cough attacks. On the other hand, if the air inside your home is too moist, the mucus in your respiratory system will become too dissolved. That will make you cough a lot to expel it from your lungs. If the situation lasts long, mold will develop on your walls. Unfortunately, its spores carry respiratory risks of their own.
To best keep track of humidity levels inside your house, you could buy a hygrometer. Or you may want to invest in a humidifier with a built-in humidistat. That one would automatically keep track of moisture levels in the room and adjust them accordingly. However, even if you have a regular humidifier, a tell-tale sign of too much moisture is condensation on your windows.
Replace Water in the Humidifier Daily
It is common knowledge that stale water promotes the spread of mold spores and bacteria. So make sure to empty your device every day. Then, wipe the reservoir dry, and add fresh water. Needless to say, whenever you’re refilling your humidifier, don’t forget to unplug it.
Can You Use Tap Water in a Humidifier?
When it comes to keeping your humidifier in mint condition and ensuring it doesn’t pose a threat to your health, the critical factor is the type of water you use in it. Regular cleaning, filter replacement, and tracking air humidity are undoubtedly relevant, but those will only take you so far. If you use the wrong kind of water, you won’t be able to avoid the side effects for very long.
Some humidifier manufacturers state that it is safe to use tap water in their products. However, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) advises against it. In order to clarify why, we break down how different types of water behave in humidifiers.
Tap water is always readily available, and it is also the least expensive one on the list. And since it is perfectly safe for consumption, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be used in a humidifier, right?
Wrong. Tap water is safe to drink because it contains all essential minerals necessary for people’s health. However, it is precisely those minerals that are harmful to a humidifier.
As tap water evaporates from the device, it leaves a mineral buildup suitable for bacterial growth inside the reservoir. Not only that, but some of that residue spreads with water vapor through the air. That makes it very likely you will breathe it in. It also deposits on your furniture, so you could inhale it even at a later time. It goes without saying that such an outcome can worsen asthma symptoms and cause allergies to flare up.
You should also avoid using boiled water in humidifiers. When you bring water to the simmer, you get rid of harmful organisms that may have been in it. But boiling will not dispose of its mineral content, so it won’t make any difference in a humidifier.
Distilled water is the best water to use in your humidifier. Such water has been completely purified. Special distillation processes ensure that all residue of minerals, like calcium, potassium, and sodium, is removed from the water.
Therefore, since its mineral content is minimal or non-existent, you can safely use distilled water in humidifiers. Scale formation on the inside of the device will be almost absent, which will make cleaning it a breeze. Not to mention that you won’t have to worry about residue deposits around your home. Overall, there won’t be any negative impact on your and your family’s health.
Emitting Water Vapor
Humidifiers are exceptionally handy devices that emit water vapor to raise moisture levels in a room. There are many different types on the market, but they all work on similar principles. What they all have in common is that they help people with various conditions linked to dry air, such as:
- Dry mouth
- Congested nose
- Flaky skin
- Cracked lips
- Achy sinuses
- Persistent cough
- Sore throat
- Asthma symptoms
They are also beneficial to your wooden furniture as, by raising humidity levels, they help prevent dry cracks in it. Not only do they prolong the lifespan of your furnishings but also of your indoor plants. They prevent them from withering from excessively warm and dry air. Humidifiers also help lower the levels of static electricity in your home caused by low moisture levels in the air.
Hopefully, this article told you everything you wanted to know about how to use humidifiers to your best advantage. Remember that the rule of thumb for optimal results is to use distilled water. On top of that, regular device cleaning and humidity level monitoring are essential.
To truly grasp the change that humidifiers can make in your home, here’s some additional reading material for you! Check out where to place one in the bedroom and whether to add essential oils to the water in them. Another thing that may come in handy is to learn a bit more about a related product, the dehumidifier. Which one do you think would work better for you?