Vertex Mechanical’s HVAC, Plumbing & Electrical Blog

Do Humidifiers Spread Germs and Mold?

Humidifiers are one of the best ways to combat dry winter air — and all of the misery that comes along with it. Keeping the relative humidity in your house between 35% to 50% can keep you feeling great, getting sick less, and spending less money on your heating bill. However, all humidifiers are NOT created equal. Single-room humidifiers (or portable humidifiers) can spread germs and mold bacteria — unless maintained by a strict cleaning regimen.

On the other hand, whole house humidifiers offer the maximum benefits of humidification — to every room in the house — without the same risk for spreading contagious bacteria and airborne mold. Learn more about how your portable humidifier can spread germs and mold and about our recommended upgrade.

Your Humidifier Can Spread Mold and Germs

Winter can be a beautiful season — think of fluffy blankets and a picturesque snow through ice-frosted window panes. As lovely as that sounds, winter is also the season of colds, asthma, scratchy throats, allergies, bloody noses, static shock, and the flu.

Chances are you’ve heard this before, but humidifiers really are one of the best remedies to the downsides of winter weather.

Portable or single-room humidifiers are basically a drum of water and a heating unit. Evaporating the water restores moisture to the air.

If you use your humidifier to alleviate asthma, you need to pay attention. While keeping your lungs moist and hydrated does help, breathing in airborne mold does not.

humidifier with ionic air purifier

Read more about how indoor air quality can impact asthma.

That’s right: single-room humidifiers ABSOLUTELY can spread germs (both the cold and the flu) as well as mold throughout the air.

woman sick after germs spread from single-room humidifier

So, how does this happen exactly?

In two ways. First of all, humidifiers sit out in the middle of the room or on the floor. They are exposed to and end up collecting a lot of the germs passed around in the winter — especially if you have kids. You want to be avoiding those germs as much as possible — but a humidifier can turn them into steam, allowing you to breathe them in like you’re at a Rhinovirus sauna and spa. It’s as simple as that.

So that explains how humidifiers spread the cold and flu, but what about mold? Since portable humidifiers use a reservoir of standing water to put moisture back into the air, they become a breeding ground for mold. As water stagnates, mold starts to develop — that’s true whether the water is on the floor of your basement or in your humidifier. When you add more water and start the humidification process again, that build up of mold gets dispersed into the air.

mold from single-room humidifier

Well, what can I do about it?

Clean your humidifier OFTEN — and we mean OFTEN.

How Often Do I Need to Clean My Humidifier?

You need to thoroughly rinse and dry your humidifier EVERY DAY to prevent mold growth.

We also recommend fully taking apart your humidifier and scrubbing it with dish soap once EVERY WEEK at the minimum.

That’s a significant investment in time to keep a single room humid and healthy this winter. Meet our solution.

Whole House Humidifiers vs Room Humidifiers (aka portable humidifiers):

You can buy a portable humidifier at Walmart or CVS — however, our recommendation is a whole house humidifier. It’s a pro-only solution.

Installed in your ductwork, whole house humidifiers connect to your water line and evenly distribute comfortable vapor to every room of your house at once. As the name implies, a single-room (portable) humidifier only helps one room at a time — our recommendation – a whole house humidifier – does all of your home’s rooms.

couple breathing better with whole house humidifier

But does a whole house humidifier spread germs and mold?

Since a whole house humidifier only uses pure water from the house’s water line, there’s no accidental cold or flu contamination — and there’s no stagnant water to grow mold! With a whole house humidifier, there’s only healthy and pure water vapor.

So, I know I need to clean a single-room humidifier every day. How often do I need to clean my whole house humidifier?

Most humidifiers have a replaceable media that should be done each spring, and in many cases can be done while we are there doing your annual or bi-annual maintenance on your furnace or maintenance on your AC. Once this media is replaced and the humidifier is cleaned up, it’s like a brand new unit again, waiting for winters return.

A humidifier will keep your entire house healthy and hydrated — that’s the power of the whole house humidifier.

Benefits of Humidification

To help you breathe better and save money, humidifiers can do quite a lot like:

1. Ease the symptoms of asthma
2. Reduce the frequency of static shocks
3. Prevent bloody noses caused by dry air
4. Help you feel warmer, letting you turn the thermostat down
5. Stop the spread of the flu (scientists think water vapor damages the virus on a molecular level)
6. Lessen snoring
7. Keep your hair from getting frizzy
8. Help prevent dry skin

And much, much more.

Whole House Humidifiers from Vertex Mechanical

Want to use a humidifier safely without having to clean it daily? You’ll want to upgrade to a whole house humidifier — the absolute best in the business.

We’re not a national chain, our technicians don’t work on commission and we don’t hard sell. Instead, we offer the HVAC solutions to make life easier.

Ready to learn more about whole house humidifiers? Get in touch with Vertex Mechanical today.

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