Humidifiers are great for relieving cold symptoms and making winter more bearable, but sometimes they have another purpose: wrecking furniture! It's true--the water in humidifiers is often tinted with an ugly mustard color which will stain anything it comes into contact with. Water in the humidifier turning yellow is one of the most common complaints people have with humidifiers.
This happens because mineral deposits start building up on the heating coil inside of the humidifier. In turn, this causes the heating coil to change pH levels and creates a discoloration in the water. This is certainly a concern because it provides evidence that metals could be leaking into the air that you breathe. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to prevent this from happening!
This blog post will give you some tips on how to avoid this problem so that the air you breathe (and your furniture!) remains clean.
1. Replace the humidifier water and filter frequently.
It takes a fair amount of maintenance and care to keep your humidifier water clean. One of the most important ways to prevent yellow water is by replacing both the water and filter frequently. By doing this, you'll decrease the amount of time that the humidifier is running with dirty water, which will minimize the amount of build-up on the heating coil. The water can be replaced any chance you get, and be sure to remove the water when the humidifier is not running.
Be sure you are also changing your humidifier filter regularly. Over time, the microbial lining on the filter breaks down and loses its effectiveness. The filter plays an important role in protecting the heating coil and preventing mineral deposits.
To maintain optimal performance, a humidifier filter should be replaced every season (about four times per year).
2. Make sure to use distilled water in your humidifier.
Avoid using hard water to fill up your humidifier; the minerals in hard water can contribute to yellow discoloration. Using distilled water in your humidifier can prevent yellow humidifier water because it is mineral-free and cannot harm the heating coil on its own.
Whether you use hard water or distilled water, consider using a filter to remove any contaminants before adding water into your humidifier tank. Humidifier filters are an essential part of the mineral removal process, so even distilled water alone won't prevent yellow humidifier water.
3. Turn the humidifier off for a few hours each day.
Don't let the humidifier run constantly. If you're not going to be using your humidifier for an extended period of time, make sure to empty out the water so that it doesn't have a chance to turn yellow. Even when your humidifier is not running, the stagnant water creates an environment that allows mold and bacteria to thrive. It is better to remove the water completely for a few hours each day.
If yellow humidifier water is a persistent problem, it may be time to get a new humidifier. Check for other signs that replacement is needed: Are you also seeing fine white dust around the area your humidifier is placed? This is also evidence of metal leakage, which is a threat to your health.
4. Clean the humidifier regularly using vinegar or bleach.
Vinegar or bleach will help to dissolve any mineral deposits that have built up over time. The yellow humidifier water is often caused by the minerals in hard water, so using vinegar or bleach will help to remove these deposits.
For best results, pour one cup of white vinegar into the tank and let it sit for an hour before rinsing with cold water. For stubborn stains, you can soak a towel in bleach and use this to scrub the inside of the tank. Be sure to rinse with cold water afterward and allow it to air dry completely before using again.
Leave the Filter Alone!
Please note that you are only bleaching the inside of the humidifier unit, not the filter itself. Bleaching a humidifier filter will strip away the antimicrobial lining that prevents the quick buildup of mold and bacteria. If you are not comfortable using vinegar or bleach, there are commercially available humidifier cleaning solutions that can be found at most stores.
If all else fails...
Sometimes yellow water cannot be prevented and your humidifier needs replacing instead of maintenance. If the yellow discoloration has occurred frequently or there are other signs that there could be metal leakage in the air (like white dust), you should consider getting an entirely new humidifier. In any case, following these tips will contribute to the prevention of water discoloration in your humidifier.