Good Questions: Humidifiers?

Good Questions: Humidifiers?

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Maxwell Ryan
Nov 17, 2004

Dear AT,

I am trying to purchase a humidifier but I am overwhelmed by:
a. how ugly they are
b. the vast differences in price for similarly-sized units
c. the dearth of information on just how necessary it is to have a "germ free" unit
d. the need to buy filters and replacement parts
e. the fact that no one has a positive recommendation (all I hear about are which humidifiers to avoid).

Our apartment is approx. 900 square feet. I want a quiet humidifier which blows warm mist. I don't need it to be germ-free, unless you feel this is an absolute necessity. I'll pay up to $150 for a good humidifier, but would prefer to spend less. I am happy to clean it as often as necessary...

Any advice/suggestions much appreciated.

Cheers, Kirstie

We say what Consumer Reports says:

  • Honeywell HCM530
  • Honeywell HWM-260 Humidifier

    For style (and good experience as well), we are always a sucker for Bionaire models. All of these are not unattractive and don't cost too much. (Thanks, Kirstie!) MGR

    From Consumer Reports:

    Cleaner humidifiers, cleaner air

    Humidifier filter.

    Humidifiers require regular cleaning. The more you use yours, the more vigilant you must be. That's because mold can grow within 48 hours on wet surfaces, and mold in the tank or in the water can then be transferred into the air, potentially causing itchy eyes and breathing troubles.

    Even units with antimicrobial finishes on tanks and wicks will become scaly and moldy if they're not cleaned. Some manufacturers claim that adding bacteriostatic solutions to water will slow bacteria growth. We didn't test this claim. For the best results, follow these tips:

    Change the water daily. Empty the tank, dry all interior surfaces, and refill with clean water.

    Clean your humidifier often. Although some parts may be washable in the dishwasher, they still need to be descaled with vinegar and disinfected with bleach. Completely dry all parts between descaling and disinfecting. And after disinfecting, carefully rinse the tank to avoid breathing harmful chemicals. Follow the manufacturer's directions and schedule for descaling and disinfecting parts and replacing filters, wicks, and the like.

    Clean it before you store it. And clean it again when you take it out of storage for the heating season.

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