Make it foggy this winter?
January 2, 2014 3:35 PM   Subscribe

Help me understand humidifiers and purchase one that will help deal with my overly warm/dry winter apartment without breaking the bank. Difficulty level: Canadian!

I live in a small, three room + bathroom place in a major Canadian city. I am not very monied, but the dryness in my place is so bad it's causing physical discomfort. However when I start looking at humidifiers I am discouraged by trying to parse out what is good or bad and what will make an appreciable difference.

My bedroom is about 11"x11", and the living room is about twice that much square footage- the other challenge being that the entire apartment only has doors on the bathroom, front door, and closets, so I imagine need to humidify everything. All ceilings are old fashioned and thus very high. So, to achieve a non-sore nose and to stop waking up with dehydration headaches, how much should I also realistically expect to spend and how should I go about it?
posted by Phalene to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I actually got by with just a vaporizer in the bedroom at night. My bedroom is that size, and I just use that at night and it actually takes care of a lot of the issue just doing that.

Vaporizers can be really cheap - I have this one and it's under 20 bucks. I actually picked mine up in a corner drug store even.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:44 PM on January 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I battle this too as the heat in my apartment dries the air out terribly. I've tried all manner of humidifiers, but I find every one as much of a pain to clean as the next.

I'm back to the simplest Vicks Vaporizer. It's not pretty, but it's quiet and it does the job. I keep a humistat across the room(s) so I don't overdo it.

Whatever other suggestions you get (and I'll be watching--still need help), I can't recommend the humistat enough; I try to keep the humidity around 50% as I can't stand they dryness but don't want mildew either.
posted by whoiam at 3:46 PM on January 2, 2014

I had the same problem. Small space with little money. I ended up buying a desktop humidifier for around 25 dollars on sale from Walmart. It's nothing fancy. You just fill it up and it runs on low or high for between 8 to 12 hours.
It probably wouldn't do a whole apartment but you can easily move it around. It worked fine for me and my sore nose disappeared. The bonus is that it does have an internal light that you can turn on and off which makes it sorta look like a lava lamp so it looks funky.
posted by Jalliah at 3:49 PM on January 2, 2014

Seconding a vaporizer. Really cheap, and you can put Vicks Vapo-Rub in many of them for a nasal-passage-clearing mist.

Also--not directly related to your question, but you might also consider saline solution spray for the dryness in your nose and head. It's really cheap, and it works well for me (I live in the northern USA and am sensitive to dry air as well).
posted by Rykey at 3:49 PM on January 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh I should add that I like it because there is no real issue with cleaning. I had a bigger, more fancy model at one time and I constantly had to watch for mold. With this one, since you are regularly replacing the water it's no issue. I also looked at ones that you could just attach a regular water bottle too. You can find those from between 15- 20 dollars.
posted by Jalliah at 3:55 PM on January 2, 2014

I had a bigger, more fancy model at one time and I constantly had to watch for mold. With this one, since you are regularly replacing the water it's no issue. I also looked at ones that you could just attach a regular water bottle too. You can find those from between 15- 20 dollars.

Replacing the water is not enough to avoid the development of the nasty. Look up legionaries disease and start cleaning using vinegar like the instructions probably recommend. Hell my vaporizer has them embedded in the plastic they are that serious about it. The gunk both visible and the invisible that will form on the plastic of your humidifier, whatever the make, model or design, need to be annihilated for the sake of your own life. Don't mess around with this.
posted by srboisvert at 4:35 PM on January 2, 2014

Until you manage to find a humidifier, you may find that Nasya oil helps with the dry nose issue. It seems bizarre at first, but is definitely helping me through this very dry winter in my high-ceilinged apartment.
posted by dizziest at 4:42 PM on January 2, 2014

I have about the same layout as you do. I just run a cheapo from Canadian Tire all the time in the hallway near my bedroom, works fine, has no real moving parts, and if ever something goes wrong I just replace if for another twenty.
posted by jeather at 5:06 PM on January 2, 2014

I own two Honeywell humidifiers, both bought at Canadian Tire - this ultrasonic one and this fan-and-wick one. I would strongly recommend the former. At its highest setting, the ultrasonic humidifier puts out a lot more vapour much more quietly than the fan-based one does at its lower setting; at the fan's higher setting, the second model is too loud. I see that some of the commenters on the ultrasonic humidifier complain about the noise its makes, and I frankly don't know what planet they're on. As I say, it's very quiet, and it emits a steady stream of nice, moist vapour. Also, with the wick-based models, the wick is always wet, which means eventually it gets all gross and mouldy-looking and needs to be replaced (at ripoff prices). Also, the fan blades get covered in dust; not an issue with the ultrasonic one. The ultrasonic model is pricier, but it does go on sale from time to time. Having said that, there's nothing functionally wrong with the cheaper model.
posted by Dasein at 5:33 PM on January 2, 2014

We have a Honeywell Quicksteam which we use overnight in our bedroom every night. That's all we have for our three storey house - plus drying our laundry on racks in the spare bedroom. Does the trick for us. Canadian Tire or Walmart or some such.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:22 PM on January 2, 2014

If you only care about maintaining a humid bedroom overnight, you should start by hanging a waterproof partition across the doorway to your bedroom. Even something as simple as a shower curtain will greatly reduce how quickly moist air effuses out of your bedroom.

Also, in my four-bedroom, nosebleed-dry Chicago apartment we got surprisingly good results out of a few pans of water on the radiators. I would recommend glass pans if you have them, as the metal ones all showed rust by the end of the season.
posted by d. z. wang at 10:17 PM on January 2, 2014

I've been through about 6 humidifiers over the last 5 years, and I've tried pretty much every kind out there. Right now I have this ultrasonic one with a whale on top (Shoppers Drug Mart, about $40) and this hot water one (Canadian Tire, about the same). I used to have a fan-and-wick one and it was a nightmare - constantly plugging up and super noisy. The ultrasonic one throws a lot of mist and looks impressive, but the hot water one seems to actually humidify better. You may need units in both the bedroom and living room - watch which outlets you use in an older place since two hot water ones on one circuit will probably pop your breaker.

What kind of heat you have will affect your humidity levels, too. I'm guessing you have radiators or baseboards if you're in an old-fashioned apartment block, which should be really good for humidity and reduce your need to humidify. Watch for any dampness or droplets on your windows or outside walls, since that means it's too humid and you'll get mold. If you have forced air, the colder it is the more it will run and dry out your place. It's been around -30 overnight for the past few weeks in Winnipeg, and the humidifiers just can't keep up with the furnace running so much. When it warms up a little they'll work better.
posted by pocams at 6:41 AM on January 3, 2014

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