As the winter approaches, you may begin to notice that your mouth, throat, nose and eyes feel drier. These symptoms could be due to low moisture levels in your home.
Inhaling dry indoor air can be detrimental to your health. It can cause skin irritation, asthma, colds, bronchitis, dry throat, or even nose bleeding. Dry air can also cause wood furniture to dry out and crack. Besides, moist air conducts temperature better, especially during winter and helps indoor plants to thrive.
In this article, we discuss the various ways you can humidify a room, including using a humidifier and 8 alternative methods.
How to Measure Humidity Levels in Your Home
The best way to measure humidity levels in your home is by using a hygrometer. It is an inexpensive humidity gauge that you can find in your local hardware store. It will indicate the exact moisture levels in a room.
Ideally, the moisture levels should range between 35-50%. If lower, the indoor air is dry, while if it is above 60%, the room is over-humidified.
How to Use a Humidifier to Humidify a Room
Humidifiers are appliances that produce water vapor to add moisture to the air. They are available in different sizes and designs.
Types of Humidifiers
There are 5 main types of home humidifies as follows:
- Evaporative humidifiers. Their design constitutes of 3 main parts – a water reservoir, wick, and a fan. The wick absorbs water from the reservoir, and the fan distributes it to the room as cool moisture. These types of humidifiers are quite affordable but are prone to mold growth in the wick pad and reservoir.
- Vapor humidifiers. They are also known as warm mist humidifiers. They operate by boiling water to create steam. They have a fan that distributes the steam. Their main advantage is that heating the water gets rid of pathogens and inhibits mild growth.
On the downside, they use up more energy to heat the water. Also, if knocked over, the hot water can cause scalding.
- Ultrasonic humidifiers. Although a few can boil water or use UV light to sterilize the water, they are cool air appliances. They have vibrating ceramic discs that pulverize water into tiny droplets that are released into the air. They are quite safe but may release water minerals to the immediate environment.
- Impeller humidifiers. These are cool air humidifiers. They have rotating discs that rotate at high speed, releasing water droplets in the air. The mist is visible. They can over-humidify a room if not correctly set.
- Central humidifiers. The above types of humidifiers are portable and designed for single room use. On the other hand, central humidifies as fitted permanently as part of the HVAC system to humidify the entire house. Some have a rotating drum that pulverizes water into mist, while others steam the water.
These units are expensive to install but effective at humidifying the entire house. Since central humidifiers are more complex to install, it is best to consult an HVAC professional before buying one.
Tips for Using a Humidifier
- Do not place the humidifier on a carpet, metallic, or wooden surface. The moisture may damage these types of surfaces. If placing it on the floor, ensure it is two feet above the ground.
- Use the humidifier as need be. For example, run the humidifier for a few minutes in your bedroom before going to bed. Or for a few minutes near tropical house plants. Run the humidifier constantly if you live in low humidity areas or during low humidity season
- Refill the humidifier regularly. For instance, a one-liter humidifier will need to be refilled with water after running for 8 hours. In comparison, a 3-gallon unit needs refilling after 12-15 hours. It is best to change the water with every refill to prevent bacteria manifestation.
- Use purified, distilled water instead of tap water in the humidifier. Tap water has high levels of minerals that build up as plaque in the humidifier and wear out the filters. These minerals could also deposit on the surrounding surfaces.
- Clean and sterilize your humidifier regularly. At least 1-3 times per week. The EPA recommends using 3% hydrogen peroxide to clean the humidifier.
- If you are running the humidifier for extended periods, go for one that has a built-in humidistat. It senses when humidity levels are excessively high and controls the output.
- Consider a built-in bacterial control feature. It reduces the risk of bacteria manifestation in the water tank.
Disadvantages of Using a Humidifier to Humidify a Room
While humidifiers are generally safe to use, they are associated with certain disadvantages. For instance, they can over humidify a room. Excess moisture can lead to mold growth, which leads to adverse health effects. It can also damage wallpaper, plaster and paint.
They are also high maintenance as they require regular cleaning and water change. If you do not clean it regularly and properly, it can encourage bacteria incubation.
Therefore, some people are keen to use natural, easily accessible, low-cost methods to humidify a room. Below is a look at 9 natural methods of humidifying a room.
8 Alternative Methods of Humidify a Room
1. Incorporate some house plants in your interior décor
Plants absorb water from the soil through the roots for mineral transportation. They then release excess water through the leaves in the process of transpiration. They also improve aeration in the room as they take up carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
2. Open the bathroom door when showering
If you can, leave the door open when showering. The steam from the showerhead or bathtub will escape to the immediate rooms increasing moisture levels.
3. Leave water in the bathtub
Once you are done showering, do not drain the water in the bathtub immediately. Allow it to sit for some time. As the water cools down, some moisture will slowly evaporate into the adjacent rooms. Do not leave the bathtub with water if you have small children, as it poses the risk of drowning.
4. Hang clothes to air-dry indoors
Set up a drying rack in the room you want to humidify. Instead of drying your clothes in the dryer, wring out the excess water and spread them out on the drying rack. As they dry, moisture slowly evaporates to the air, humidifying it. This method is not only affordable, but it also saves you energy bills involved with using a drier. It works best for small clothes and intimates.
5. Put clean water in a bowl and place it near a source of heat
Put water in a metallic or ceramic bowl. Place the water near heat sources, e.g. on top of HVAC registers or near a window under direct sunlight. The heat will cause the water to warm up and evaporate into the air.
If the room is big or the air is too dry, place several bowls of water near heat sources in the room. Check on the bowl every few days to determine whether you need to refill it with water.
This method also works for glasses or vases of water. However, the water evaporates much slower than in a bowl as they have a smaller surface area. You could also place shallow trays of water in direct sunlight.
6. Boil water on the stovetop
Boiling water on a stovetop is one of the fastest ways to increase moisture levels in the air. Ensure to keep the cooking pot open when boiling the water to allow the moisture to evaporate. You could also boil water in a kettle and leave it on for a few more minutes to produce adequate steam to raise moisture levels in the room.
7. Mist the room with a water spray bottle
Fill up a spray bottle and spray around the room to add moisture to the air. Although this method is effective, you can easily over mist the room. Do not mist so much that you leave wet surfaces behind. You could also mist the curtains sparingly.
8. Use an essential oil diffuser
Essential oil diffusers work well for humidifying smaller rooms. Since water serves as a carrier for the oil droplets, a diffuser has a humidifying effect. Unlike a humidifier, it outputs less moisture. Therefore, it may not be the best idea if the air is too dry. Keep in mind that you should only run a diffuser for 30 minutes at a time.
The right humidity levels in your home are essential for comfortable and healthy living. Watch out for signs of dry air and use a hygrometer to confirm the moisture levels in different rooms. Then choose one or more methods of humidifying your home from the above discussed. Be careful not to over humidify as it can have adverse side effects such as mold growth.