We all have those days when we don’t feel like leaving the house--especially when the weather is too harsh outside. Be it the harmful UV rays of the scorching heat in summers, the annoying stickiness of monsoons or the icy fogginess of winters, there’s no greater pleasure in taking a break and indulging yourself in the comforts of your home for a day (or more). But even though we decide to stay in to avoid the brutal air outside, are you sure that the air you breathe inside your house is safe for your well being? Chances are that it might not always be!
Ever felt a certain degree of discomfort or suffocation inside the house that you begin to crave the fresh air outside? Ever noticed your skin becoming extremely dry, or experienced sudden headaches and constant irritation in your nose despite taking all the precautions? You might be doing everything right but the indoor air of your house can be to blame. When the humidity levels in your surroundings are imbalanced, the air can become dangerous for you to breathe and can end up making you sick. So how do we make sure that the air around us is safe? A humidifier is your saving grace!
When the air around us lacks a perfect balance of moisture and is too high/low on humidity levels, a humidifier acts as a natural moisturising agent to purify our surroundings and makes the indoor air safer for us to breathe. It’s an appliance which forces moisture into the air in the form of an invisible mist or steam that controls the amount of humidity in our surroundings.
It generally has a large reservoir of water attached to its base. When we switch it on, the right amount of air then passes through its filter and evaporates some amount of water, which increases the moisture of the air. The amount of water that gets evaporated depends on the relative humidity present in your room. If the humidity is high, less water is evaporated into the environment and if there is low humidity, a humidifier will release large amounts of steam.
On the basis of their size, humidifiers are of two kinds:
Being extremely large in size, these humidifiers have the ability to add moisture to an entire house or room, effectively, and usually have wheels, making it easy for you to move them around.
These portable humidifiers are much smaller in size and can be used while travelling to places where there might be chances of experiencing very high/low humidity levels.
On the basis of their functionalities, humidifiers are classified into five types:
These humidifiers are directly built into your home’s existing air conditioning or heating units and are extremely expensive. However, they are the best choice if you wish to maintain the necessary amount of humidity in your entire house all the time.
Being electrically powered, these air humidifiers heat the water first and then cool the mist before expelling it into the air. They are often used as facial steamers or for curing nasal blockages. They are the least expensive form of humidifiers and found in almost every drugstore. They come in relatively small sizes which also makes them travel-friendly.
An ultrasonic humidifier is considered one of the best room humidifiers among the lot. It produces a cool mist with the help of ultrasonic vibration and varies in prices, depending on the size you need for your room/home.
These humidifiers are often less expensive than others and function with the help of rotating disks which run at high speeds. They’re considered one of the most child-friendly devices as they let out cool, pleasant mist and carry no risks of burns.
Powered by fans, these humidifiers function from a single-unit system and let out their steam into the air through a well-moistened filter. They’re more affordable than a central humidifier but work only in one room at a time.
Humidity refers to the amount of water vapour suspended in your environment. Over time, when the temperature of your house increases either due to the scorching rays of the sun in summers or when you shut your homes up tight to avoid letting the cold air of winter seep in, it leads to a reduction of moisture in your surroundings. Although air conditioning might prove to be helpful for a while, it fails to deliver the correct amount of humidity that you require in every season.
The ideal level of humidity in any house should be between 40-60%. If it’s more or less than this, chances are that the air you breathe is dry and very unsafe. An imbalance of humidity also increases the possibility of the growth of various bacterial and viral infections in the air which can prove to be extremely detrimental for your health. Therefore, some of the most common results which occur due to the presence of high/low humidity at home and can also help you recognise whether you require a humidifier or not include the following:
However, the best way to check if you need a humidifier at home or not is by measuring your air’s dryness using a humidity gauge meter. This can easily be found at any drugstore. Hence, keeping your home within the recommended range can prove to be beneficial in many ways.
By ensuring the right levels of humidity and moisture in your home, a humidifier can help you enjoy some or all of the following benefits:
1. Many health experts agree that humidity levels above 40% can rapidly deactivate virus particles in our surroundings and make them less infectious. Thus, a humidifier can effectively prevent the occurrence of the influenza virus and reduce the risk of flu and cold at home.
2. No matter how clean your home is, there are always some bacteria or germs lurking around which can cause certain allergies to flare up. Using a humidifier at home has been proven to reduce the growth of these pathogens like bacteria and viruses which thrive on a high humidity environment. Apart from relieving common allergies, it can also reduce allergic reactions in those who suffer from respiratory problems like sinus, asthma, etc by a significant amount.
3. Dry air can easily result in persistent coughs all throughout the day. Keeping a humidifier at home can ensure the presence of more moisture in the air which further moistens your respiratory tract and releases the trapped or sticky phlegm which causes you to cough.
4. If the air around you is dry, your nasal airways are less likely to be properly lubricated for air to pass without making any noise when you sleep. Ensuring the right amount of humidity in your environment through a humidifier can thus, help reduce snoring at night.
5. Adding moisture in your surroundings does not only prevent the dryness of the air that you breathe but allows you to get rid of dry skin, itchy scalp and chapped lips too. Using an evaporator in the form of a facial steamer also allows you to enjoy several beauty benefits.
6. If the air in your home is extremely dry, it can also lead your valuable wooden items or furniture to crack up. This can further result in an extensive amount of repairs. Adding a humidifier to your place can help prevent that by restoring the lost moisture in your surroundings and protecting your wooden items from drying, shrinking or cracking.
7. Ever wondered why the paint on your walls or the wallpapers of your home dry out too quickly and start peeling/chipping on their own? The lack of moisture in your home can be one of the reasons for that. With the help of a humidifier, you can easily extend the lifespan of paint on your walls or wallpapers and control the humidity of your surroundings.
8. Places with low humidity are more prone to causing static shock or electricity. Therefore, you can easily prevent the occurrence of such instances by ensuring the right levels of humidity at home with the help of a humidifier.
Finding the right humidifier begins by being aware of the exact amount of humidity present in your home and measuring it through a humidity meter. For instance, if the humidity levels at your place are extremely high or low, then you must invest in a console humidifier that will cover your entire house. You should also decide how much square footage you are aiming to cover and how many rooms and buy a humidifier according to the size required. You can also choose between a warm-mist humidifier or a cool one, depending on your family or seasonal preferences. For instance, many people prefer to use a cool-mist humidifier in summers to make the air even more soothing and pleasant.
It’s recommended that you should clean your humidifier at least once every 3 days if you’re using your humidifier on a daily basis. This will ensure that the air you and your family breathes is free of bacteria, mold (fungi) or any problematic pathogens in your surroundings.
It’s important to perform a deep-cleaning of a humidifier regularly to make sure that the air you breathe is perfectly safe. First, unplug the humidifier before you clean it. Use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution which is easily available at pharmacies to remove all the possible dirt or mineral deposits from the tank. Make sure that you rinse the tank after carefully cleaning it to prevent any harmful chemicals from becoming airborne. If the area around the humidifier becomes wet or damp too often, start using it frequently and not on a regular basis. If you use a humidifier once in a while, make sure that you drain and clean it before storing it away in a perfectly safe and separate space at home.
Since a humidifier is largely responsible for creating breathable vapour for us, the bacteria in the air as a result of an unclean humidifier can make us susceptible to severe illnesses, so make sure that it is cleaned regularly and properly before being used. You should also make sure that the temperature of your humidifier is regulated as high levels of humidity can increase the number of allergies and infections for those suffering from respiratory problems. Allowing your humidifier to expel too much of moisture can also prove to be detrimental as it can create condensation on the walls and as a result, fungi mold can grow and spread throughout the entire house. Lastly, make sure that babies don’t come near any warm-mist humidifiers at home as they are likely to cause slight burns.
Yes, a humidifier is perfectly safe for a baby’s room. In fact, many people have begun to use humidifiers in child nurseries as they prove to be very beneficial for them. A baby’s skin is very sensitive to harsh climates or places with high humidity. The dry air can otherwise cause chapped lips or red patches on a baby’s skin.
Since a humidifier adds the right amount of moisture into the air, it helps in healing the dry, irritated skin of the baby and also, eases his/her symptoms of allergies, cold or any other respiratory problems. However, it’s recommended that a cool-mist humidifier should be placed in a baby’s room instead of a warm mist one as it can prove to be a bit risky in case the baby gets too close to the unit.
So, when are you planning to breathe cleaner, fresher air at home?
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