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By Laura Matney

Warm air humidifiers for your home

It's winter. If you are fighting dry, itchy skin and trying to soothe overtaxed sinuses, then you might be in the market for warm air humidifiers. There are a few things to consider before picking the humidifier that is right for you.

What does a humidifier do?

We all know that winter air is dry air, and if you live in cold weather climates, running your furnace will dry the air out even further. This can lead not only to itchy skin, but also increase allergy, cold and flu symptoms.

A warm or cold air humidifier will replace the moisture in your home and alleviate those winter symptoms everyone hates. They can even help you heat your home more efficiently. Warm air humidifiers heat the water in the unit to a boil and release steam into your home. Because they do release steam, it is important to consider where you will be using the unit if you have children. Curious children could be at risk for burns.

Finding the right humidifier for you

Know where you want to use it first. Room size does matter. You want to know the dimensions of the room you will be putting the humidifier in for usage. It is recommended that you pick a size slightly larger than the manufacturer recommends to ensure you receive the optimal humidity level (30-50 percent).

For small or medium rooms, and for easy room-to-room portability, a tabletop humidifier is a good option. For larger rooms, a console model would be the right size. A console model is larger than a tabletop model, but can still be moved from room to room. There are also whole house models if you want to humidify your entire home at once.

Factor maintenance costs into the cost of your humidifier. It is important to think about what kinds of additional costs will be incurred, beyond the price of purchasing the unit such as replacement filters, costs to clean and maintain the humidifier. If your home has hard water and/or a salt-based water softener, know that you will need to replace your filter more frequently and costs will increase.

White mineral dust can mess things up. Humidifiers have come a long way, and most do not produce the white mineral dust that used to be common. However, allergy sufferers will want to note that if you have a salt- based water-softener, the sodium is not easily removed by the humidifier filters and a dust will be produced, which can increase symptoms.

Features to consider

There are features available that you want to consider. For example, ease of cleaning is important. You will need to drain, rinse and dry your humidifier daily. Weekly, you will need to use vinegar and bleach for deep cleaning. This will help prevent the spread of mold and other impurities that can make you sick. You will also want to keep in mind your personal style – there are humidifiers that will match your decor – and whether you want a humidistat or timer. Humidistats turn your machine off when it reaches a preset level of humidity. Timers can be programmed to turn your humidifier on at a set time, but you will want to be cautious about leaving water sitting in a tank for too long, as it can breed microbes if the humidifier isn't dried completely between uses.

There are many things to think about when purchasing a warm air humidifier. Thinking about personal style, maintenance costs and size before your purchase will help your home to be warmer and your family to be healthier. Before you decide, do your research and find out what type of humidifier is right for you, then install and breathe easier.

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