Add A Little Moisture To Your Life

Recently, I became aware that much of the problems I’d been having with my sinuses was the result of the dry air in my home.

I noticed that I would invariably contract some kind of cold or sinusitis at the beginning of winter.  My doctor told me that this is the time when we keep all the doors and windows closed and turn on the heat.  The heat from our furnaces basically sucks the moisture right out of the air.  She recommended a humidifier.

I, as I always do, researched the hell out of the subject.  You have your cool mist humidifiers, your warm mist humidifiers, your evaporative humidifiers, etc.  You can find a ton of information discussing all the differences online, so I won’t go into all that here.  Instead, I’ll just tell you what I ended up going with and why.

First, I chose warm over cool.  I figured as long a I was heating my home anyway, I might as well contribute to the effort with a warm mist instead of cool.  (no, I didn’t think about the summer months during that decision – lol – hoping I won’t need it in the summer).  I also did not want to spend a lot of money, as this was really an experiment at this time.  After some careful research and deliberation, I went with the Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier.

It was simple, VERY cost effective, and as I came to find out, does the job very well.  The Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier has two humidity settings and this setting pretty much dictates the amount of moisture it puts into the air, as well as the amount of time a full tank of water lasts.  For me, I’m comfortable on the low setting, and I get roughly 20 hours on a full tank.  If I run on the high setting, it’ll go for about 12 hours.

What like about this model:

  • I like the fact that it automatically turns off when the water tank is empty.
  • I do not have to turn it off to fill the water tank.  Just simply lift the tank straight up by the handle.  Fill it and replace it.
  • it is virtually silent.  The only thing you hear is maybe a gurgle or two as the tank releases water into the heating chamber.
  • It’s easy to take apart for cleaning.

I won’t list what I don’t like about this model, because what I don’t like really applies to all water-boiling warm mist humidifiers.

Scale!  No, not that it’s too heavy or anything like that.  It’s the hard, flaky, nasty looking substance that forms and cakes on and around the heating element.  It’s caused by the minerals in our water, and if you have hard water as I do, you’ll have a lot of it.  You can virtually eliminate it by using distilled water, but who wants to buy 30 gallon jugs of distilled water for a month’s use?  Costly, bulky and just a general pain in ass.  Not for me.  Baring that however, you must clean it regularly.

I’ve gotten in the habit of cleaning it every 4 to 5 days.  The manual says to soak the heating element in white vinegar for 20 minutes, however, I’m here to tell you it takes a lot longer than that if you have very hard water – and I do.  One time I had to let it soak overnight for the scale to break free.

However, I have a tip (that works for me) for loosening up the scale faster.  But, before I share it with you, I want to warn you to be EXTREMELY careful, and I guarantee you, that Vicks will most certainly NOT condone this method.  Please, use caution if you’re going to this!

What I do is this: I follow all the instructions in the manual, and after rinsing out all the loose scale, I fill the chamber with the vinegar as recommended.  Here’s where I deviate from the manual and go rogue.  I plug the unit back in, and turn it ON until the vinegar gets warm to hot.  I do not allow it to boil!  As soon as I see a bubble or two, I turn the device off and unplug it.  So far, for me, it’s only been an hour or two before the scale can be very easily removed with a stiff tooth brush.  I use a plastic spoon to help with some of the more stubborn areas, however, be careful with this as well, as you do not want to scratch the coating around the heating element.  I believe it’s some form of Teflon.

Here’s another tip to minimize the amount of vinegar you’ll need to fully submerge the top of the heating element.  I place an object (actually I use water valve tank cap) underneath the base at the opposite end of the heating element.  This allows the vinegar to flow and concentrate around the heating element, requiring less vinegar for it to be fully submerged.  I’d say this requires about half the amount of vinegar needed if you just keep the base flat on the surface.

Well, that’s my recent foray into humidifiers.  I hope it’s been helpful.