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Winter is fast approaching, bringing with it colder temperatures and drier air. While the dry air is a welcome respite after the humid days of summer, it also brings its own problems. From dry sinuses aggravating your cold to static electricity, dry air is annoying. Fortunately, these issues can be solved by having a good humidifier in your home. Of course, it’s all well and good to say that having a humidifier will help improve the quality of life in your home, but what does a humidifier do exactly, and why should you have one.

Humidifier Basics

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At its most basic level, a humidifier puts water vapor into the air to increase the level of humidity in your home. Humidifiers do this in one of two ways: with warm mist or cool mist.

Warm mist humidifiers heat up the water and emit warm steam into the air. There are generally two types. One will warm the water to about 170 degrees to form warm mist. The other actually heats the water to almost boiling, creating a hotter mist. This can warm the air in a cold room, which is a plus. On the downside, however, warm moisture can encourage fungal growth. Mold and algae can be an issue, so a warm mist humidifier has to be cleaned regularly and often. It is usually not recommended to have a warm mist humidifier if you have children because of the risk of accidents and burn.

Cool mist humidifiers come in two forms: Ultrasonic and Evaporative. Both use a wick that sucks up the moisture. In an ultrasonic cool mist humidifier, a small metal diaphragm oscillates and agitates the water until it forms a mist. A fan then blows this cool mist out into the room. Evaporative cool mist humidifiers blow dry air over a moist wick. The dry air then collects moisture and is then blown back out into the room. Cool mist humidifiers don’t require cleaning as often as a warm mist unit, but still need cleaned regularly to prevent mold and algae growth.

How A Humidifier Can Help

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Here is a list of five things that having a humidifier in your home this year can help with.

  1. Dry Skin. Let’s face it; winter can wreck that youthful glow and soft baby skin that you work so hard to keep. Dry, cold air will sap moisture from your skin leaving it dull, dry, and flaking. A humidifier lets you keep the moisture in your skin, keeping you looking radiant throughout the winter months
  2. Faster Healing. It’s pretty much a given that you’re going to get at least one cold this winter. A humidifier helps keep your nasal passages and sinuses moist, speeding up your recovery and reducing your coughing and sneezing.
  3. Speaking of Sinuses. If you’re prone to sinus infections, a humidifier can help immensely. By keeping your sinuses moist, you are more resistant to that stuffy feeling and clogging that often heralds a bout of sinusitis. Best of all, moist air reduces that achy feeling when you wake up after a night of breathing in cold, dry air.
  4. Goodbye to Static. Dry winter air causes a lot of static electricity. Nobody likes that feeling of wincing in dread before you touch a doorknob or a light switch. By increasing the amount of moisture in the air, you can actually reduce or even eliminate those annoying shocks. Maybe then your cat won’t look at you sideways when you try to pet him.
  5. Snoring. This is a year-round fix, really. If you or your partner snores, a humidifier can help with that. People tend to snore more when they have dry sinus passages. Plus, moist air feels warmer, so that can help you get a better night’s sleep.

Some Tips on Humidifiers

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No matter what type of humidifier you choose, it’s vital that you clean it regularly. There’s nothing worse than having a humidifier tank full of mold and algae, because that’s what you’re going to be spraying into the air. And that’s not going to help anything.

When you clean your humidifier, use regular white vinegar to do it. The acid in the vinegar will kill any mold or fungus that’s in there. If you don’t want to use vinegar, use a bleach/water solution of 1 teaspoon bleach to one gallon of water. Keep in mind that if your humidifier has a filter, don’t rinse it with the cleaning solution. This will reduce the lifespan of your filter.

Change your filter according to the directions. We at ThinkCrucial have a great selection of humidifier filters that will save you a bundle over the life of your appliance.

When you clean out the tank, use a bottle brush to reach the nooks and crannies. You’d be surprised what sort of stuff can lurk in the corners. If you can’t reach them, mix 1 cup of vinegar with 1/2 cup of cold water and add 1/3 cup uncooked rice. Cap the tank and shake it. The rice will act as a scrubber and get into the areas you couldn’t reach. Make sure that when you rinse the tank, you don’t leave any rice in there.

Humidifiers are a great way to relieve some of the effects of the cold dry air that winter brings. Keep these tips in mind, and your humidifier will keep you breathing easy for years.

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