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Rick Hyslop

Humidifiers

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Hey there I am just finishing setting up a new studio. Before that I worked from my home. I have noticed that it is drier in my studio than in my house. As it is now winter and I am living in Canada this could have something to do with it. I was wondering what people do for humidification. Also what is considered a good level to aim for and ways of maintaining such levels. With 4 seasons to deal with I guess there may be different solutions for different times of year.

Any help regarding this subject would be appreciated.

Cheers.

r.

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Rick;

During the heating season I use a wick type (blows air through an absorbent wick) floor model (I've had the same machine for 10 years; a Bemus) that has a humidistat (auto start/shutoff). Very effective, and holds enough water that I only need to fill it once a week.

Don't trust the humidifier's humidistat alone for %, though. I have a separate gauge that I know is accurate (thanks David!).

I aim for about 40 to 45% in the dead of winter. In very cold climates, going above that may cause condensation on your windows.

Don't know how the humidity in your area is in the summer. Here, some air conditioning is required, which keeps the level reasonable. If your shop gets really humid, and air conditioning is not required, you may want to get a de-humidifier for the summer months. I aim for 45 to 50% during the summer. Not difficult to achieve.

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I use a cheap steam-type vaporizer, controlled by a separate controller. The steam-type seem to be a lot better about not growing mold and bacteria, and shoving that stuff into your work place. Also the lowest maintenance of anything I've tried.

Jeffrey and I live in the same town, where humidity levels can reach 90%+ at times, so we both need to dehumidify in the summer, if we want to do the best for instruments in our custody.

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Whenever the shop humidity drops below 40%, pegs start letting loose, so that's my threshold. I just use a portable evaporative humidifier, and I have a very small shop, less than 500 square feet, but it still takes a fairly high capacity humidifier to keep the levels high in what passes for cold weather around here ( 20F down to -5F, for nighttime lows). AC keeps the humidity down OK in the summer.

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I need to vaporize, at most, 2 gallons per day to keep my workspace up to 40% during the lowest outside temperatures, and that will also keep the rest of the building (an additional 1800 square feet) up to around 32 percent. It's a pretty air-tight building though.

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Hey Jeffrey, David, Nonado.

Thanks for the info. My space is roughly 600 sq ft. I assume that a smallish consumer model would do just fine. I will look into the weather patterns in your areas in regards to mine and come to some conclusion. Do you think that the fact that the walls in my industrial space are untreated concrete block will have an effect on how much moisture will be lost. I suspect it might. I plan on painting, but perhaps sooner would be better than later. Regarding "airtightness" (my own word) I have some very minor draft issues here which I can control to some degree. David, I seem to recall you responding to a question here on a thread somewhere about the conditions at the VSA and you made some reference to outside air versus inside air. Can you re-explain that to me or re-direct me to that thread ? I have searched but can't seem to locate it.

Thanks very much to all of you.

Cheers.

r.

EDIT: Also David what effects, if any, do you think drafts might have on a space regarding humidity ?

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The luthier that I started learning from a few years ago loved his a Venta brand humidifier. Made in Europe, as I remember. I have thought about looking into acquiring one for my workspace.

Steve

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Hey Jeffrey, David, Nonado.

Thanks for the info. My space is roughly 600 sq ft. I assume that a smallish consumer model would do just fine. I will look into the weather patterns in your areas in regards to mine and come to some conclusion. Do you think that the fact that the walls in my industrial space are untreated concrete block will have an effect on how much moisture will be lost. I suspect it might. I plan on painting, but perhaps sooner would be better than later. Regarding "airtightness" (my own word) I have some very minor draft issues here which I can control to some degree. David, I seem to recall you responding to a question here on a thread somewhere about the conditions at the VSA and you made some reference to outside air versus inside air. Can you re-explain that to me or re-direct me to that thread ? I have searched but can't seem to locate it.

Thanks very much to all of you.

Cheers.

r.

EDIT: Also David what effects, if any, do you think drafts might have on a space regarding humidity ?

Here's information compiled from from several posts in that thread: (the part of the thread where humidity is discussed is at http://www.maestrone...mp/page__st__60

Cleveland during the November competition, estimated average:

Outdoor temperature, 40 degrees. Outdoor relative humidity, 60%.

Bring that outdoor air inside and heat it to 70 degrees, and the relative humidity drops to 20%.

Indianapolis in September, estimated average:

Outdoor temperature, 65 degrees. Outdoor relative humidity, 60 %.

Bring that oudoor air inside and heat it to 70 degrees, and the relative humidity becomes 51%.

Those are examples of how the humidity indoors relates to the outdoor temperature.

I remember that at times in the past, typical outdoor humidity information for the time of year and the region was furnished to VSA competitors. It would take some calculation to derive expected indoor conditions from that.

If that hasn't been happening recently, I'll ask if it can be reinstated, and maybe even a range of expected indoor humidity can be furnished.

For those who want to find out on their own, here's a link to a map of the US showing regularly updated current outdoor humidity:

http://www.usairnet....ative-humidity/

And here's a link which can help convert that to humidity at indoor temperatures:

http://einstein.atmo...y/Humidity.html

You can note that the current outdoor humidity where I live is 74%. Another pull-down memu on that site will funish a map showing that the temperature is 27 degress F (at the time of this post).

Applying the calculator, you'll find that the humidity inside my house would be 15%, were there not other sources of moisture. Some added moisture comes from things like cooking and showering, and I use a humidifier to make up the difference, to keep it up to 40%.

More detailed instructions on using the calculator:

Enter the outdoor temperature and humidity, and it will calculate the dewpoint.

Once you have the dewpoint, clear the humidity and temperature boxes, enter the indoor temperature in the temperature box, and recalculate to get the humidity indoors, the humidity you have once that outdoor air has been heated to room temperature.

Or if you have dewpoint info from the weather service, that saves a step.

The numbers are pretty frightening when it gets really cold outside. Let's say it's 30 below, and the outside air is holding as much moisture as it possibly can (100% humidity). That makes the dewpoint -30 F. Bring that completely saturated air inside and heat it to 70 degrees F, and the relative humidity becomes less than 2% !

Rick, I can't tell you how much moisture will be needed to overcome drafts, and some porosity in concrete block walls. Each situation can be different, so you'll need to experiment on your own to find out how much water needs to be vaporized to keep it up to 40%. I have many customers using the cheap Sunbeam #1388 series steam vaporizer, the same one I use, and haven't heard from anyone that it wasn't up to the job (it's also the lowest-maintenance of anything I've tried). It doesn't have a controller though, so you'd need one like this one from Grainger, which works well. If you don't have an account with Grainger (they sell to business only), I sell them for about the same price: (edit, I see you're in Canada, and I don't ship to Canada)

http://www.grainger....0121231125901:s

Like most products I have tested, the display may not show the true humidity level in the room, so it's best to set the unit using an accurate hygrometer, rather than by the numbers on the screen. The first batch I got was dead-on. The most recent batch I got reads about 8% low.

Ouch, that turned out to be a rather long-winded and rambling post. If something's not clear, or isn't addressed, I'll try to answer it.

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I don't have a shop, but a few dozen stringed instruments of varying types all require some sort of humidity control for the sake of stability.

I run a Sears type evaporative humidifier in the LR/DR where the instruments live. When temps fall to freezing and below, I will run 4-6 gallons of water a day through it. It's surprising to see how rapidly the RH will fall if I let it run dry. I usually set it up when the temps require heating the house. In the summer months, central A/C keeps the interior at or below 50%.

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I use a cheap steam-type vaporizer, controlled by a separate controller. The steam-type seem to be a lot better about not growing mold and bacteria, and shoving that stuff into your work place. Also the lowest maintenance of anything I've tried.

The low maintenance thing is and attractive attribute... as I do not love cleaning my unit every couple weeks (which you need to do if you don't want weird stuff growing in the tank), but I also hate remembering to fill the thing so I like a larger tank that the wick styles offer. Oh well. :) The one I use is pretty easy to clean though. I go through a couple/few filters a season depending on how much dust I raise in the shop.

Anyway, a link to the type I use is below. Also not expensive (around $100), and as I mentioned, the units have lasted 10 years so far. Holds 6 gallons. Has a 9 gallon output (run on high) should you need it... but I'm only humidifying around 300 sq. feet and the shop is pretty tight, so I go through about a gallon a day or so in the dead of winter.

I also use one in the house. Keeps the whole space at about 40%, run on low.

http://www.essickair...-house/821-000/

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My shop's less than 400 square feet, concrete block construction, about 60 years old, with three exterior walls. I had a pretty good 3-gallon a day humidifier, but when the filters start to load up, that capacity goes down. Rather than tune 60-70 violins a day, I spent $120 on a 12 gallon rated humidifier with automatic fan controls and humidistat. It runs a lot less, consumes far less filters, and keeps the humidity up where it needs to be. Well worth the additional $40 investment.

I'd say spend a few dollars on something with about 3 or 4 times the rated capacity you think you need. You'll make up the extra cost in the long run, or at least break even on cost, with a lot more reliable performance. For a 600 sf block building get something rated for an 1800 sf house. The Essick console humidifiers are generally rated pretty good, and are also sold under the Kenmore name.

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Wow!!! Thanks to everyone for all the info. David that's the thread I was talking about, thanks that's great, never too much info. I will review all of these great ideas and try to come up with a good plan for my space.

Thanks MN.

Cheers.

r.

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I'm pretty sensitive to mold, and also to some of the humidifier chemicals to control mold, so I've stuck with the steam vaporizers. Should any mold or bacteria exist in the water, they will be killed when the water is heated into steam (or so I presume).

Mine is currently jury-rigged with an automatic water supply, kind of like the water supply to a refrigerator ice maker. It adds water at the rate of about 3 drops per second, and the water level is controlled by a drain. So the old water is constantly exchanged with fresh water, and I only service it about once every two months, to dump loose (not encrusted) mineral scale which .falls out of the steam chamber onto the bottom of the reservoir. Probably could go a whole season without needing to do that, but I'm slightly anal. :P

With about ten years on the Sumbeam steam vaporizers, I've only replaced one once. Cost about $20. No filters, wicks, or any other maintenance expenses.

The automatic water supply is only practical if you have a convenient water supply, and drain though.

I haven't tried the one that Jeffrey uses, so I should do that.

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Hey there David. That is interesting I was considering a similar scenario as you have explained. I don't have the water and drainage but was considering something like a 10 litre water jug, tubing, gravity and crossed fingers.

Thanks for the post.

Also Happy New Years to everyone out there.

Cheers.

r.

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Rick, if you don't have some water purging, there could be more mineral buildup. Not necessarily a game changer, but something to think about if you live in an area with high water mineral content, like I do.

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Another important thing:

When choosing a humidifier, dehumidifier, or separate controller, be sure to get one that will "remember" its previous settings if there is a power interruption. Some of the electronic ones don't. You wouldn't want to be away for a day or two, and return to find that the humidifier had been running constantly, or not at all.

Jacob, your extra reservoir setup looks nice, and simple.

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You wouldn't want to be away for a day or two, and return to find that the humidifier had been running constantly, or not at all.

Absolutely true... and I notice the controls change on these models from year to year. My favorite of my two humidifiers is the older one that has a dial type control... the digital controls they install now are touchy.

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