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Indoor Humidity?

With hotwater/baseboard heat, are there any good solutions for humidifying a house? The portable humidifier units require frequent manual refilling with water, and can make a mess.

Comments

  • njtommy
    njtommy Member Posts: 1,105
    Do you have any duct work in the house?
  • MikeSpeed6030
    MikeSpeed6030 Member Posts: 69
    No ducts. Just hot-water heat.
  • BillW
    BillW Member Posts: 198
    Without ductwork and a fan (air handler) , your options are very limited. Showers, air drying clothes and cooking put some humidity into the air, but if you are getting static shocks, warping woodwork or excessive dryness, you may consider a steam humidifer, ductwork (heavily insulated) and a fan, controlled by a humidistat, and an hydronic coil in the ductwork to take the chill off the air. Expensive, and if not done right, could lead to condensation problems. Consider individual room humidfiers or just get one of those cast iron decorative "tea kettles" from LL Bean or Plow & Hearth, and boil it on your range.
    njtommy
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    Boil water on stove top.
    Keep ventilation fans off after showers.
    Check infiltration sources. Infiltration will drop humidity.
    Canucker
  • MikeSpeed6030
    MikeSpeed6030 Member Posts: 69
    Thanks, you confirmed my suspicions. I think I'll just get by with my two room humidifiers, mess and all. Spring can't be all that far away, right?

    A pot on the stove doesn't appeal to me. What if it goes dry while I'm inattentive?
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    Just options.
  • jacobsond
    jacobsond Member Posts: 90
    What is the humidity in the home. Just curious. Don't want to get that humidity to high. Then you will have questions about sweating windows and mold growth. My house maintains humidity around 30%-40% in winter 66 degrees in the house outdoor temp in the single digits or lower. Hot water baseboard heat only. No duct work. Any more than that an I have sweating windows. We use a single room ERV to get some fresh air into the master bedroom. The house is kind of tight.
    coming to you from warm and sunny ND
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,468
    I often run a whole house portable humidifier. Yes, it requires refilling twice a day when it's really dry out but it gets the job done and even seems to spread through the house on it's own as long as you keep doors open.

    This is what I've been using for years.
    http://www.essickair.com/ea1407-console.html

    You must replace the wicks once a season or so assuming you keep them wet. For whatever reason it seems like if you let them run dry even once, they're done. The machine shuts the fans off when the water is low, but you need to refill the two bottles that day. Water treatment is also recommended to keep nasty stuff from growing.

    It's a pain to fill the bottles, just another chore, but it does the job and it's simple. So far I haven't even bought new wicks for it this season because it's been so mild.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    ChrisJ" rel="nofollow"> :) ChrisJ said:

    I often run a whole house portable humidifier. Yes, it requires refilling twice a day when it's really dry out but it gets the job done and even seems to spread through the house on it's own as long as you keep doors open.

    This is what I've been using for years.
    http://www.essickair.com/ea1407-console.html

    You must replace the wicks once a season or so assuming you keep them wet. For whatever reason it seems like if you let them run dry even once, they're done. The machine shuts the fans off when the water is low, but you need to refill the two bottles that day. Water treatment is also recommended to keep nasty stuff from growing.

    It's a pain to fill the bottles, just another chore, but it does the job and it's simple. So far I haven't even bought new wicks for it this season because it's been so mild.


    Nice thing about radiant no humidifiers needed :)
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,468
    edited January 2016
    Gordy said:

    ChrisJ" rel="nofollow"> :) ChrisJ said:

    I often run a whole house portable humidifier. Yes, it requires refilling twice a day when it's really dry out but it gets the job done and even seems to spread through the house on it's own as long as you keep doors open.

    This is what I've been using for years.
    http://www.essickair.com/ea1407-console.html

    You must replace the wicks once a season or so assuming you keep them wet. For whatever reason it seems like if you let them run dry even once, they're done. The machine shuts the fans off when the water is low, but you need to refill the two bottles that day. Water treatment is also recommended to keep nasty stuff from growing.

    It's a pain to fill the bottles, just another chore, but it does the job and it's simple. So far I haven't even bought new wicks for it this season because it's been so mild.


    Nice thing about radiant no humidifiers needed :)
    Explain?
    How is how the heat is delivered relevant to whether or not humidifiers are required?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • bmwpowere36m3
    bmwpowere36m3 Member Posts: 512
    Implying radiant doesn't dry the air out as much and thus no need to add any humidity back in...
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,468
    edited January 2016

    Implying radiant doesn't dry the air out as much and thus no need to add any humidity back in...

    Which, makes absolutely no sense.
    Yes, steam and hot water radiators warm the air more but the overall room temperature is the same. The 180-200F air once it cools to 65-70F will have the same RH as any other system.

    Warming 0F to 20F air to 70F is what dries it out.

    Don't want dry air in a house? Fix the drafts.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    Chris all I can say is I never have to humidify. I have radiant heat.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,468
    Gordy said:

    Chris all I can say is I never have to humidify. I have radiant heat.

    See my above statement.
    My dad doesn't either and he has forced hot fudge.

    His house doesn't leak like mine. Mine is more like a fine mesh screen than a barrier. :)
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    Canucker
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    You must live in a submarine with screen doors.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    I have lived in very tight envelopes that still require added humidity. They were also forced air.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    Gordy said:

    Boil water on stove top.
    Keep ventilation fans off after showers.
    Check infiltration sources. Infiltration will drop humidity.


    My initial post
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,468
    edited January 2016



    Ok @Gordy you win.


    To the OP, I still recommend the humidifier I spoke about a few posts above. Sealing up drafts will also help reduce the need for it.




    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    Canucker
  • jacobsond
    jacobsond Member Posts: 90
    Still wondering what you guys consider low humidity. Tough to give advise unless you know how bad the problem is.
    • If outside temperature is 20 to 40 degrees, humidity indoors should not be more than 40 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 10 to 20 degrees, humidity indoors should not be more than 35 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 0 to 10 degrees, humidity indoors should not be more than 30 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 10-below to 0, humidity indoors should not be more than 25 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 20-below to 10-below, humidity indoors should not be more than 20 percent.
    • If outdoor temperature is lower than 20-below, inside humidity should not be more than 15 percent.
    A little web search got this.Humidity in your home should be less than 50% all the time and lower in winter from another pro site Im on. So If the OP can give us the humidity level maybe there is a problem and needs a humidifier maybe not.
    coming to you from warm and sunny ND
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,468
    jacobsond said:

    Still wondering what you guys consider low humidity. Tough to give advise unless you know how bad the problem is.
    • If outside temperature is 20 to 40 degrees, humidity indoors should not be more than 40 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 10 to 20 degrees, humidity indoors should not be more than 35 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 0 to 10 degrees, humidity indoors should not be more than 30 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 10-below to 0, humidity indoors should not be more than 25 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 20-below to 10-below, humidity indoors should not be more than 20 percent.
    • If outdoor temperature is lower than 20-below, inside humidity should not be more than 15 percent.
    A little web search got this.Humidity in your home should be less than 50% all the time and lower in winter from another pro site Im on. So If the OP can give us the humidity level maybe there is a problem and needs a humidifier maybe not.

    What is this based on?
    I would assume an older home like mine with terrible windows will tolerate humidity less than a better home.

    I would also assume (wow, using that word a lot.) that a really tight home with good insulation, good vapor barriers (spray foam?) and really good windows would tolerate much higher levels in cold weather.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    when you start getting copious amounts of static electricity it's to low.

    I'm usually 30-35% no matter what. With no intervention.
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,704
    When I lived with my parents using a FHA system I always walked around with a coin in my pocket. I would hold the coin tight in my hand and ground myself to the light switch before turning lights on and off. I discovered it's the arc in contact with the skin that hurts so if it arced to something metal there wasn't any issues. So I could have pain free enjoyment of the lightning bolts in the dark. After I moved out they started using humidifiers like Chris showed so no more static.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    Canuckerspoon22
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 722
    ChrisJ said:

    jacobsond said:

    Still wondering what you guys consider low humidity. Tough to give advise unless you know how bad the problem is.
    • If outside temperature is 20 to 40 degrees, humidity indoors should not be more than 40 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 10 to 20 degrees, humidity indoors should not be more than 35 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 0 to 10 degrees, humidity indoors should not be more than 30 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 10-below to 0, humidity indoors should not be more than 25 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 20-below to 10-below, humidity indoors should not be more than 20 percent.
    • If outdoor temperature is lower than 20-below, inside humidity should not be more than 15 percent.
    A little web search got this.Humidity in your home should be less than 50% all the time and lower in winter from another pro site Im on. So If the OP can give us the humidity level maybe there is a problem and needs a humidifier maybe not.

    What is this based on?
    I would assume an older home like mine with terrible windows will tolerate humidity less than a better home.

    I would also assume (wow, using that word a lot.) that a really tight home with good insulation, good vapor barriers (spray foam?) and really good windows would tolerate much higher levels in cold weather.
    It's my understanding that the opposite occurs. @ChrisJ leaky old houses like ours keep the structure dry because of the energy transfer through the assembly. Heating the house in winter probably dries out the "good bones" these old homes have rather quickly. We're paying for those good bones though.
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,468
    Canucker said:

    ChrisJ said:

    jacobsond said:

    Still wondering what you guys consider low humidity. Tough to give advise unless you know how bad the problem is.
    • If outside temperature is 20 to 40 degrees, humidity indoors should not be more than 40 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 10 to 20 degrees, humidity indoors should not be more than 35 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 0 to 10 degrees, humidity indoors should not be more than 30 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 10-below to 0, humidity indoors should not be more than 25 percent.
    • If outside temperature is 20-below to 10-below, humidity indoors should not be more than 20 percent.
    • If outdoor temperature is lower than 20-below, inside humidity should not be more than 15 percent.
    A little web search got this.Humidity in your home should be less than 50% all the time and lower in winter from another pro site Im on. So If the OP can give us the humidity level maybe there is a problem and needs a humidifier maybe not.

    What is this based on?
    I would assume an older home like mine with terrible windows will tolerate humidity less than a better home.

    I would also assume (wow, using that word a lot.) that a really tight home with good insulation, good vapor barriers (spray foam?) and really good windows would tolerate much higher levels in cold weather.
    It's my understanding that the opposite occurs. @ChrisJ leaky old houses like ours keep the structure dry because of the energy transfer through the assembly. Heating the house in winter probably dries out the "good bones" these old homes have rather quickly. We're paying for those good bones though.
    I don't know.
    Higher humidity levels with ice cold plaster walls and or floors that cause condensation is bad. Same thing goes for windows, if they're constantly forming condensation it's a bad thing.

    I believe this is what @jacobsond s numbers were in reference to.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Canucker
    Canucker Member Posts: 722
    For sure, constant, visible condensation is bad, regardless of build quality. Our houses would tolerate periodic wetting much better than a much tighter house as the moisture can dry because our higher ACH and crap insulation lets the studding/sheathing get much warmer than a newer building. We just pay more to heat and cool them
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
    Gordy
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    I just light a fire. With four masonary fireplaces I could all most turn the house inside out B)
    Canucker
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    edited January 2016
    It's pretty hard to get a comfortable humidity with zero condensation. There is a fine line. Especially in sub zero weather. Humidity comfort levels are a person to person variable.
    Canucker
  • jacobsond
    jacobsond Member Posts: 90
    My comment just came from a web search. Many pages said similar. The other pro site I visit the air quality "expert "indicates always less than 50%.In winter more like 30 to 40. All this discussion and we don't know if the OP has 20% which to low or 40% which is ok. I like to have a starting point to solve a problem maybe the OP only needs a little humidity added. Maybe he dosent.
    coming to you from warm and sunny ND
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    There is what is exceptable to the structure, and the occupant. If the occupant is complaining then the humidity is to low.

    Old building material can absorb a lot of moisture. More so than newer structures. The tighter the wall cavity the more prevalent that is.

    My house was built in 1952. No bath exhaust, no kitchen exhaust. No rotting building material. All original Windows.

    This humidity concern to structures comes into play with much tighter envelopes, and wall cavities.
    Canucker
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,468
    edited January 2016
    1952? Our house was already 90 years old then :). One of the first things I did here was install a Panasonic 80cfm bathroom fan with insulated 4" duct to the roof. Got tired of mildew issues from the shower. Also installed a 200 to 440cfm variable exhaust over the stove. Do they lower the humidity in the winter? Im sure but my bathroom ceiling is spotless and no one gets headaches from CO poisoning on Thanksgiving.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    I also did bath fans, kitchen, basement. Point is..........
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,932
    If you folks think you have a humidity problem, try maintaining a place which is somewhat draughty -- especially when the wind blows -- and which contains books and paintings and antiques and a couple of grand pianos. Then you really pay attention to the humidity -- and as a practical matter, I try to keep it around 35% or so in the winter, and let it go where it will in the summer. I have found that so long as it changes slowly and never, ever condenses things are OK.

    Condensation -- even a trace -- on the windows (all storms)? Too humid, and damage will be occurring elsewhere where you can't see it.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,468
    edited January 2016

    If you folks think you have a humidity problem, try maintaining a place which is somewhat draughty -- especially when the wind blows -- and which contains books and paintings and antiques and a couple of grand pianos. Then you really pay attention to the humidity -- and as a practical matter, I try to keep it around 35% or so in the winter, and let it go where it will in the summer. I have found that so long as it changes slowly and never, ever condenses things are OK.

    Condensation -- even a trace -- on the windows (all storms)? Too humid, and damage will be occurring elsewhere where you can't see it.

    Jamie, have you ever seen the Twilight Zone episode "The New Exhibit" ?

    "Martin Senescu works at a wax museum. His boss and best friend, Mr. Ferguson, informs him that the museum will close, to be torn down and replaced by a shopping mall. The dispirited Martin asks one request; to spare the wax figures of Jack the Ripper, Albert W. Hicks, Henri Désiré Landru, William Burke and William Hare.

    Mr. Ferguson complies, and Martin takes the figures home, to the dismay of his wife, Emma. They keep the figures in the basement, under high air conditioning and constant care. Emma, who is terrified of them and concerned by their effect on Martin, doesn't know what to do. She seeks the advice of her brother, Dave, who tells her to shut off the air conditioning and melt Martin's collection. She sneaks out of bed one night, goes down to the basement, and tries to shut off the air conditioner. The wax figure of Jack the Ripper pivots his knife-wielding hand towards Emma, who screams."


    What that doesn't say is, he had taken good care of them so long he couldn't stand the thought of them being damaged.

    This is often how I picture you based on some of your stories. I just hope your pianos never come to life to kill people. :)
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment