For many people, cracked lips, bloody noses and dry sinuses are synonymous with winter, thanks to dry indoor air resulting from central heating units.
Humidifiers can ease these symptoms for many people; however, it’s important to use caution to avoid unexpected problems.
Using a Humidifier in Winter
While humidifiers are especially helpful for dry skin and sinuses, they can actually make you sick if humidity levels get too high. Likewise, when they get dirty, humidifiers can breed bacteria and mold; so it’s important to clean your unit regularly and carefully monitor humidity levels in your home.
Different Types of Humidifiers
All humidifiers emit steam or water vapor to increase moisture levels in the air; however, there are a variety of different types, including:
- Ultrasonic units, which produce cool mist using ultrasonic vibration
- Central humidifiers built into home air conditioning or heating systems
- Impeller unites, which generate cool mist using a rotating disk
- Steam vaporizers, which use electricity to generate steam that cools before leaving the unit
- Evaporators that blow air through a wet filter, wick or belt
Monitoring Humidity Levels
Any humidifier can sooth dry skin and sinuses, as long as it’s powerful enough to moisten the air in your home. Ideally, home humidity levels should fall between 30 and 50 percent. If the levels fall too low, you may develop irritated nasal passage, dry skin or itchy eyes. On the other hand, if they ascend too much, humidifiers can create condensation on floors, walls and other household surfaces, resulting in bacteria growth, mold and dust mites.
To ensure that your humidity levels fall where they should, use a hygrometer, which looks similar to a thermometer, but measures the amount of moisture in the air. You can find a hygrometer at your local department or hardware store. Some modern humidifiers also have built-in hygrometers, which provide convenient, accurate readings.