Can humidifiers cause mold? Yes, if the unit isn’t maintained well or if it’s used more than needed.
Mold growth has been a major concern over the use of humidifiers. This device releases moisture, which is one of the ingredients of a mold infestation.
Although molds can be a potential problem with humidifiers, there are easy ways to prevent them. Below,
I discussed how molds grow because of humidifiers and what you can do to prevent it from happening.
Can humidifiers cause mold?
Humidifiers can be your friend or foe, depending on how you use them. If you don’t utilize it properly, your humidifier can become the harborage of molds and even worsen the mold growth around your house.
Here’s how it happens:
1. Humidifiers can cause excessive moisture in the air
Humidifiers are used to restore moisture levels in the air during dry conditions. It comes in handy during winter and other days when your home has dropping humidity levels.
However, if used excessively, this device will increase your home’s humidity level abnormally. The excess moisture will settle on surfaces or get absorbed by porous materials.
This will make your home susceptible to mold growth, especially if you use the humidifier regularly.
Overall, excessive moisture due to humidifiers is a common problem among households. It’s because many users aren’t aware of this risk.
2. Humidifiers can grow molds inside.
If not cleaned regularly, humidifiers can grow molds inside their water reservoir. This is more common in units with opaque water tanks since it’s dark inside. Still, transparent water tanks are not invincible to mold growth.
Not replacing the water inside, failure to clean, and using various additives can trigger mold growth on your humidifier.
If not addressed right away, your humidifier will start to diffuse the spores together with water molecules. This will wreak havoc in your home as the spores will stick to surfaces and multiply. And as the humidifier releases the spores, the infestation will get bigger by the day.
3. Humidifiers can cause mold if placed against a wall.
Another thing you should be careful about is the location of your humidifier. You should never place it against or too close to a wall. It’s because moisture will get concentrated on the wall and eventually trigger a mold problem.
Drywall is notoriously prone to molds since it’s very porous and will easily absorb moisture from humidifiers nearby. It doesn’t help either if there’s insulation inside as such material will soak in more water molecules.
Take note that even concrete walls can also harbor molds if you place a humidifier right next to them. While it’s more durable than drywall, it still has a porous surface that can trap organic matter and tiny particles.
How to prevent humidifiers from causing molds
Molds due to humidifiers are very easy to prevent with the right approach. Here are some of the steps you can take:
1. Clean your humidifier weekly
It’s important to clean and sanitize your humidifier weekly to prevent mold growth. You can use white vinegar and an old toothbrush to brush the walls of the water tank. You can also soak diluted vinegar in the tank to get rid of deep-seated gunk and dirt.
Also, make sure that you replace the water in your humidifier daily. This way, mold spores won’t have the chance to grow and spread inside the tank.
2. Watch over the humidity levels
If your humidifier doesn’t have a built-in humidistat, you should purchase a hygrometer. This way, you can measure the humidity levels of your home. If it’s higher than 50%, you shouldn’t use a humidifier. If you do so, there would be excessive moisture in the air, which can trigger mold growth.
Overall, this will greatly help prevent mold problems as you use humidifiers. Make sure that you place one in every room where a humidifier is used.
3. Consider using an additive
If you’re worried that your humidifier may form molds, you can add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide into the tank. This will neutralize mold spores and prevent them from spreading into your home. Don’t worry because hydrogen peroxide is safe and won’t cause irritations.
Aside from that, you can get humidifier tablets. These are made specifically to prevent mold buildups on water tanks.
4. Don’t use hard water
Hard water will cause mineral buildup inside humidifier tanks. This buildup can become start mold growth as well as the proliferation of bacteria.
Instead, you should only use distilled water or purified water. These water types won’t cause mineral buildup and white dust in your house.
5. Replace old humidifiers
Humidifiers that are older than 10 years must be replaced. It’s because the water tank likely sustained scratches where bacteria and mold spores may cling. Also, these indentations will make it impossible for you to remove mineral deposits.
Also, old humidifiers with built-in humidistats may no longer have accurate readings. The humidistat may lose its calibration, which will cause over-humidification in your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q Do humidifiers make mold worse?
A: If you already have molds in your home, running a humidifier could make it worse. It’s because the humidifier will add up to the excessive moisture, which feeds mold growth. Before you use a humidifier, make sure that your home doesn’t have excessive humidity levels already.
Q: How do I know if my humidifier has mold?
A: A musty smell is an indicator that your humidifier has mold. You may also notice a different colors like black, pink, gray, white, and so on with a puffy appearance. Take note that these molds won’t just be present inside your humidifier, but also in the areas adjacent to it. And if the molds in your humidifier have been around for long, there’s a chance that the problem has already spread around the house.
Q: What humidity level kills molds?
A: If you want to deprive molds of their much-needed moisture, you should keep your indoor humidity at 50%. If you want to kill the spores, a 35% humidity level would be ideal. However, this might be too low for some, so anywhere from 40% to 50% would be fine.
Q: Do molds go away once moisture is removed?
A: Moisture will slow down the growth of molds. However, it will not necessarily kill them at once. Some of the remaining spores may just go dormant and reactivate once humidity levels spike. If your house has a massive mold problem, professional remediation is the best way to go.
Q: Can humidifier mold make you sick?
A: Humidifier molds can make you sick as they can easily spread around your home. The humidifier will act as a diffuser of the mold spores while it’s in use. This can cause irritations and even attacks for those with asthma. Be sure to check your humidifiers regularly and clean them once a week to prevent this problem.
Can humidifiers cause molds? Yes, but there are many ways to prevent this from happening. Proper cleaning, daily water replacement, proper location, and humidity checks are some of the steps you can take.
And if you start noticing an odd smell or color in your humidifier, you should stop using it. Clean it right away or consider a replacement if the unit is already old.
Home Air Quality is founded by Bernard K to provide information on Indoor Air Quality in Homes and enlighten people about what they need to know about creating and maintaining a comfortable and healthy home environment.
We believe that “Quality air brings a healthy life.”