Humidifiers 101: Use, Maintenance and Storage

Humidifiers can be incredibly beneficial to you and your family. They help combat dry, arid air by adding clean moisture as necessary. However, like many of the other components of your HVAC systems, they do need regular maintenance. When not properly cared for, they can actually be the cause of illnesses rather than the cure.

Problems Caused by Dry Air

While it is true that drier air is cooler air, particularly during the hot Florida summers, air that is too dry can cause a host of problems. You and your family may experience such things as nosebleeds, chapped lips, dry sinuses that cause headaches, and even dry skin that is itchy and uncomfortable if there is not enough humidity in the air. The goal is always to find the perfect balance which is ideally anywhere between 30% and 50%. While the humidity in many places decreases substantially during the winter months, this is not always the case in Florida.

Problems Caused by Too Much Humidity

When the air inside of your home is too humid, there are a number of problems that may occur. First and foremost, the air will feel very stuffy and warmer than it really is; this, in turn, causes your air conditioner to work overtime and inefficiently. What’s more, as your home cools, the moisture can condense on and between your walls, causing problems like rot or mold. Not only are these costly repairs, but they can also cause some pretty serious illnesses, too.

HumidifierTypes of Humidifiers

There are several types of humidifiers that you and your family may be able to utilize. These include the central ones that are installed alongside your central air conditioner, the ultrasonic models that produce a mist via vibrations that occur faster than the speed of sound, impellers that use a rotating disk, evaporators that blow air through filters or belts that are wet, and finally steam evaporators. With these, a machine creates steam that cools before it exits through a fan. The water inside of these is very hot and, for this reason, they are not recommended for households with children.


Depending on the type of humidifier you choose, the maintenance that is necessary will vary a great deal. First and foremost, you will want to make sure that you do not use standard tap water as this creates deposits that can lead to the growth of mold and bacteria. Next, make sure that you change the water often and be sure to completely clean the tank using a sanitizing agent that prohibits the growth of bacteria every three days. Bleach or hydrogen peroxide solutions work well. Finally, it is also important that you change the filters regularly and ensure that the area around the humidifier is kept dry.

For many Floridians, humidifiers are not necessary during part of the year. If you will be storing yours, make sure that you drain it and thoroughly clean it beforehand, and it is best to remove and throw away the filters or cartridges prior to storing. When you take the unit out of storage, be sure that you clean it again and replace any filters or cartridges if they were not removed.