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I remember discussing this on another forum last year and reading lots of differing views or approaches to the subject. A few luthiers chimed in and had some good suggestions, basically saying that you need humidity of at least 50/60%. I noticed my room humidity drop from 50-60% range to 30-40% range pretty quickly coinciding with heating the house up here in the NE US.
Last year I had this idea to build a special box big enough for a violin or two, add sensors to it that read humidity and temperature, then add a source of humidification that I could regulate with computer controls. I still think it's a great idea, I just haven't had the time to pour into it and make it happen.
Some people were using those room humidifiers which seem like a decent solution. My heat pump is in my attic, so I don't have the option to add a whole house duct humidifier because it would freeze in my attic. Later on I switch to my hydronic system using baseboard convective radiators. No chance for a humidifier there either.
I guess I could simply stretch some plastic over a wood frame for a box and wet a few sponges in it...that's a pretty unregulated Fred Flinstone approach but maybe it would work in a pinch so long as I don't over humidify.
Ideas? Suggestions? What has worked for you?
45 -55% is fine from everything I've read. Down to 40% and up to 60% should be the extremes.
Last year when I had the heat on in my house, it was not uncommon to have a humidity level at or around 20%. At that time I used a Dampit in the one fiddle I had. A few weeks ago I bought a Venta LW45 Airwasher 2-in-1 Humidifier and Air Purifier. It is rated to humidify an 800 square foot area. I set it up this past weekend when the night temps started dropping into the teens and the day temps have been in the 30's. I put it in the hallway outside my office (where I practice) so it can share the humidity into my office, den and bedroom. So far, my humidity level has stayed 40-45% (in my office) running the Venta on Setting 2 (It has 3 settings), but I'm sure the dryer air downstairs is "stealing" some of that humidity. (My house is 1700 square feet.)
-Humidifies dry room air while simultaneously purifying it by removing dust, pollen, pet dander, and other allergens
-For spaces up to 800 square feet, making it ideal for large open rooms
-Filter-free, energy efficient operation
-Produces no ions, ozone, or white dust
-3-gallon water reservoir with auto shutoff and water level indicator
-Includes a 10-Year warranty
3 models: 200, 400 and 800 square feet.
I may buy a smaller one (200 square feet) for my office or a 2nd larger one like the one pictured above (and the one I bought) to put downstairs to bring the whole house humidity level up.
Besides my violins, higher humidity is also healthy for humans as well during the winter.
I'm pretty sure Lowes item 786639 from aircare is what I use. They may have changed up models this year. It's the Evaporative type with cartridge wicks. I'm using about 2 to 3 gallons of water per day in the last week or so with gas heat Keeping room around 68 to 70.. Keeping humidity around 55 or so in the fiddle room. Noise might be an issue for some. It has an auto setting and will spin the fans faster if humidity starts dropping fast ( I suppose its that way).
Dampits seem to be the goto most use. Comes down to tool of choice I think. I also like the air purifier option but they didn't have that when I purchased this one.
Jim that looks like a pretty big humidifier as far as humidifiers go. A nice one too if it also filtrates the air.You make an especially good point, low humidity is a health issue too. Chapped lips, dry sinus. You almost become like a human raisin after a bit.
Anyone who has a forced air heating system can install one of those whole house humidifiers.Highly recommended. Though I really like that the one you have can humidify 800sqft
I once installed those and they work pretty good. They go in your duct work. Here's a link for anyone interested to look.WHOLE HOUSE HUMIDIFIER
I can't use one because my heat pump is in the attic and the water lines would freeze, plus I have switched over to my hydronic system. Can't add a humidifier to one of those either.
Most water has minerals in it which eventually collect and can cause problems with humidifiers. The small one I bought two years ago has green calcium build up in it. I am soaking the calcified parts with a vinegar spray which I hope will dissolve the minerals. I only tend to get maybe two years out of the portables because of my water.
Here's what I picked up at a local QVC outlet. I got a deal on two of them. Already had a few others upstairs. I really have no other choice for humidifying my whole house.
@starise The L45 Venta I bought is 17.5 x 11.5 x 13. Here's a short video that shows how it works.
Here's one that is about 4 minutes, but goes into more detail.
Yesterday, I purchased a second one for downstairs. With the two of them, I will have 1600 square feet of humidifying coverage. (My house is about 1700 sq ft.) The first one I bought on Amazon for $290, but they are now charging $399 (probably because we are in the humidifying season - just like AC's are more expensive in the summer). The second one I bought yesterday I got from Sylvane for $349 plus another 5% off with a coupon code, so the final cost was $332. A little over $600 for two. It's a lot of money to fork out, but I am tired of using humidifiers that don't really do the job, cause white dust, have to be filled multiple times a day, etc. These are guaranteed for 10 years. So, even if they only last for 10 years, that's $60 a year, about 40 cents a day (Nov - Mar) to keep my house properly humidified, only benefitting my house, my fiddles and me.
@GregW I just looked up that AirCare model you have. After looking at a lot of humidifiers, that's the one I almost went with until I found the Venta. It seems well made and has good reviews, but I went with the Venta instead because it doesn't have any wicks/filters that have to be changed, and it is German made and comes with a 10 year warranty. Both, were selling points for me.
Thanks Jim I wasn't aware of these humidifiers. Looks like one of the best ways, if not the best way to humidify a large open space. Thanks for sharing those videos!
In working with steam and ultrasonic piezo disk humidification systems I can see that they don't last for very long, even the commercial ones. Really anything that passes water for humidification seems to eventually get mineral deposits on it or damage from the minerals. Even the one you have which is a tank of water that is being evaporated constantly will eventually leave something behind, most of it in the bottom of the tank though. I have well water which is fairly hard. Still looks like the cat's pajamas for what it does.
I have a few open spaces in my house, but it's mostly compartmentalized rooms. No huge open floor plan.In the coldest months with no air moving other than convection through the radiators I wonder if one unit would distribute throughout my house. I guess this is why I went the smaller portables route. I payed 40 bucks each for two of them. I only need one for the studio. I probably shouldn't look at it this way, but if I get two years out of it it's a throw away item. I hope I can get three if I keep it cleaned. The darned thing was working pretty well last night. Came back this morning excited to see how well it had performed. I have outlets on switches and had it plugged into one of those. Then I turned off the lights...duh.
I'll check again today after I plugged it into the right outlet
With your floor plan the smaller portable ones might work better for you, Tim. And, at $40 a pop, if they last 2-3 years, that's not a bad deal. We live in an old farm house with 4 rooms downstairs and 4 rooms upstairs, but there is a door way from each room into the next room, not rooms off a hallway, and a large staircase smack dab in the middle between the two floors, so we get good circulation. The two Venta L45's should be ideal for us.
You are right that mineral deposits can be a real problem. That is why when we used an ultrasonic humidifier we had a lot of white dust, especially on any electronic equipment. We have well water, too.
Venta recommends a light cleaning every two weeks, at which time you add a water treatment additive that prevents mineral deposits. Since the water treatment additive does not evaporate, it only has to be added once every two weeks. It provides a sheeting action on the tank walls and water wheels so minerals won't deposit. Then, they recommend a more thorough cleaning twice a year, or before storing it away for the summer, using a cleaner they make for a deep cleaning to ensure any possible residue is removed.
Like I said, we've only been using Venta for a week, but so far, I am impressed with the job it is doing. Sure beats the older humidifiers and hanging reservoirs of water on each radiator in the house. Hopefully, I'll be singing this tune by the end of the winter, too.
Thanks Jim and Pierre. Sometimes those simple solutions are the best solutions. I believe if this was only a violin issue and not a health issue as well I would opt for only a solution that treats just the violin. I will still be ordering a Dampit to be sure.
I used these portables before but never considered the maintenance aspect of owning them. They use a piezo disk, or they are "ultrasonic"...hey I wonder if it's the same kind of thing used for instrument pickups? Looks very similar. In this case though they would run power through one and make it vibrate. Imagine 500 of these all layed out on a plate and that's basically what a commercial utrasonic unit looks like. Those unfortunately need a lot of attention too.
In order for these portable ultrasonic units to stay healthy they should have descaled water. That can get expensive depending on how much humidity you need. Walmart out here is .84 a gallon. As Jim mentioned though, if you don't do that minerals are floating in your air. They won't hurt you, however the minerals over a winter can build up on a violin, counter tops AND the piezo disk.
The design has a few holes in it....the piezo disk is laying in a pool of water at the bottom. Anything that collects in the bottom goes there. The bottom should be cleaned once a week. They can look pretty gunked up if not using descaled water after even a few weeks. The one I have that's two years old and never used descaled water has green calcium deposits all over it Not sure if I can revive that one.
I wonder if there is a smaller version of the Venta?
The Venta comes in 200, 400 and 800 square foot coverage machines.
If you decide to get one, don't buy it directly from the company. You can find better offers if you search around.
Also the ultra sonic humidifier can plug your furnace filter rather quickly and cause you furnace to be very inefficient, some recommend changing the filter once a month if you use a ultra sonic humidifier,
At 50.00 a pop I'll stick with a wick type
Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.
I'll stick with a wick type
Mark, just curious, how often do you need to change the wick? When I was researching humidifiers, I read that the wicks become less efficient over time because they can begin to collect dust, etc., making it harder for the air to flow through and become humidified. Is this a problem in your opinion??
the replacement wicks run about 25.00/box and are a pack of 4 for the console. I also use a Cap full of liquid that they sell specifically for these that knock down scaling on the wicks. for me the biggest drawback on this humidifier is noise and having to fill everyday. if I had it in a main living area id probably have to take the fan off auto mode and keep it on low. Its amazing to me how much water a heating system can take out of the air and we don't run the thermostat above 70. I'll have to say it can get annoying lugging a bucket from a bath to this every afternoon. but checking on a few case sponges is the tradeoff. either way its better than a crack or something similar that my mind can see happening if I don't try to control it somehow. 🙂
The Venta also has an additive to prevent buildup that gets added once every two weeks. Filling it every day is not number 1 on my hit parade, but what are you going to do...I find the Venta very quiet, barely hear it. I bought it (them, now that I have 2) for my fiddles, but I can't believe how much better I feel at this early time in the heating season...no dry sinuses, less dry skin.
Thanks Jim for the info on the Venta. Nice that they make a smaller unit. I will definitely be looking at these.
I have a smaller wick type unit downstairs. As long as I keep the filter media in it works fine and really seems to be putting the moisture in my air. The tank on it holds about two gallons. I just bought new media for it which should last me for at least two years.
So far I have used everything but the Venta design. The steam humidifiers are absolutely terrible for collecting minerals. The ultrasonics work ok if you keep after them. Same as the wick types. Pros and cons to each I guess. The ultrasonics don't use a filter media which is nice. They need tipped and cleaned out at least weekly which isn't too big of a deal. You should use descaled water. I say should because you can still use them without to some extent. The one I mentioned a few posts above that had green deposits on it. I sprayed a descaler on it (vinegar) and let it sit a few days. Works like a champ now into year 3...so we'll see how it continues to hold up.
Good to see what you guys use and what's working for you. I appreciate the ideas here, especially the the Venta.