I need more humidity in my house!
November 1, 2007 4:38 PM   Subscribe

How can I increase humidity in my house?

It's my first question! Yay (be gentle)!

I live in AZ, where the current average humidity is 10-15%. I am used to living where it's more like 50% humidity; and in order to screenprint (which I need to do!) I need a better humidity ratio to keep ink from drying out when I'm printing, especially in the summer when it's at least a hundred degrees outside and I need to put on a/c to cool down, which adds to the whole dryness thing.

Mostly I just need one room to be more humid-- I think my solution has to be a humidifier but I need to find out the best one for a decent budget (~$50-75?). Any of you MeFites have a good one you swear by? I bought a Vicks one at Target several months ago but I never feel much of a humidity change-- I'm waiting for a hygrometer to show up in my mailbox to actually see if it makes a difference. Or is there something else I can do to up the humidity levels to say 30-40%? Doesn't need to be constant per se-- but if there's other things I can do I'm all ears.
posted by actionpact to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
What kind of house do you live in? IE, what kind of heating do you have? If it's, say, a poorly insulated old house with gas heat, you are going to have to line a room with plastic and humidify that room, because you can literally hang all your laundry in such a house in winter, and it will dry. (I did that.) If you have a house 30 years old or less, it's probably well insulated, and you might stand a chance of increasing the humidity. Cooking, cleaning, bathing, laundry, drying laundry all add a lot of water to the air. I'm thinking you're going to be lining a room to work in, either way.
posted by Listener at 4:42 PM on November 1, 2007

Do a little research on "swamp coolers". It might solve 2 of your problems. Essentially it is a way to use water to both cool and humidify your home. If your AC bill is high, and you prefer more humidity, a swamp cooler will pay for itself in your happiness in no time flat.
posted by milqman at 4:54 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

A really inexpensive route would be to go with something like an ultrasonic mister in a small container of water. I used something similar to provide water for my chameleon and I was surprised at how much mist/ humidity the little device could create.

Also: it looks cool.
posted by quin at 5:01 PM on November 1, 2007

Response by poster: Unfortunately I know that A/C's just going to suck out the humidity-- in the summer it's really difficult to live without it though (though we keep it regulated at 80-90 degrees so perhaps it's not as bad as if we were lowering the temp even more?). Right now though is perfect because we can just leave the windows open and cool down that way.

Listener, our house is younger than I am-- a two story townhouse that is from the 80s-- it's really well insulated. I guess the only trickiness is that the room is on the top floor and so it's usually warmer there, and our bathrooms/kitchens/washing machines are all on the bottom floor-- perhaps I should run a clothesline and let clothes dry upstairs, ha! I figured the best thing would be the humidifier as it'd be right in that room, but I'll keep that in mind anyway...

Thanks for the tip on the swamp coolers milqman-- I hear they're rendered pretty useless at high temperatures, but I'll reopen my investigations on them!
posted by actionpact at 5:06 PM on November 1, 2007

Response by poster: Ha, that would up my coolness levels 10 times, quin! (Printing in the fog-- very ethereal.) I never would've thought of that-- did it go through the water in the container really fast?
posted by actionpact at 5:09 PM on November 1, 2007

It depends on how big a volume of water you put it in. It will actually send mist up through more than 6 inches of water. If you put it in a big enough pan it could last for a really long time.

I would guess hours if not days. Most have an auto shut-off so if you run out of water, it will disable itself.
posted by quin at 5:18 PM on November 1, 2007

I swear by the venta-sonic, although according to amazon other people have had big problems with it. It costs ~$99, but if you wait for one of those %20 off coupons for Bed Bath and Beyond you can get it for *close* to your price point. Point the nozzle towards your ink. It will do what you need, as the water vapor is directed and stream-like. You don't need to humidify your whole house to get localized effects.
posted by Eringatang at 5:22 PM on November 1, 2007

I had thought that swamp coolers were meant specifically for low-humidity climates - a/c cools by taking water from the air, and swamp coolers provide the humidity to do so. The only people I know who've had them were in West TX, NM, and AZ.

I swear by my two Walgreen's $30 ultrasonic humidifiers. I wouldn't survive a mouth-breathing sinus infection without them.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:31 PM on November 1, 2007

Ok, this solution is super duper cheap. You will need a bath towel, a box fan, and a low, rectangular bin roughly the width of the fan (such as a wallpaper tray). You probably already have the towel and the fan, bringing your cost down to under $10.

Put water in the bin. Wet down the towel. Place the fan behind the bin and place the towel so that one end is in the water and the other end is on the top of the fan (being careful that the wet towel does not drip onto the electrical stuff behind). I recommend securing the towel with something relatively heavy, such as a rock or a paperweight. Turn on the fan. Keep water in the bin; you may have to periodically wet the towel either by dunking it in the bin or spraying it with water.

Behold, the world's cheapest humidifier/swamp cooler. When it gets cold (I live in Vegas, don't tell me Arizona never gets cold) there is nothing stopping you from using hot water in the system.
posted by ilsa at 5:42 PM on November 1, 2007

A swamp cooler is definitely the way to go. I've lived in the desert all my life and wouldn't part with my cooler. It'll also save you big bucks on your electric bill as a cooler draws a fraction of the electricity used by air conditioning.

Just be sure to remember the secret to effective swamp cooling: Airflow is key, so you need to keep windows and/or doors open and use a big enough cooler to completely exchange the air every 2-3 minutes.
posted by buggzzee23 at 5:51 PM on November 1, 2007

You might want to search for this on the gigposters.com forum, I know it's been brought up there before. You're not the only screen printer out in the desert!
posted by bradbane at 5:56 PM on November 1, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everybody! I'll try lisa's option first and then see how it goes from there-- if it doesn't work best, I'll look into a good swamp cooler :)

(and thanks brad-- I have checked gigposters obsessively, but the answer wasn't fully resolved there or I haven't gotten many people answering when I post... not sure how many southwestern printers there are on there but was hoping that I'd catch more answers on Mefi than I would there! Great resource though)
posted by actionpact at 6:10 PM on November 1, 2007

You DEFINITELY want open airflow if using a swamp cooler. I recall several years back I worked for a software company and the building we were in would shut off the AC over the weekend to save money, but a few of the developers liked coming in weekends. Three of them had this big 20x20 office they shared and bought a swamp cooler for it to use when they were in during the summer. I came in on a Sunday to fix something with the network one hot August day and then dropped by to see how they were getting on. Holy Christ, I opened the door to their office and it was like walking into a lukewarm sauna. You could practically see the moisture in the air. And the walls were DRIPPING condensation everywhere. I told them to turn off the cooler, shut off all of their equipment, and if anything shorted out, I wasn't replacing it.

So, yeah. No swamp coolers in sealed places or the overwhelming heat will be replaced by overwhelimg muggy.
posted by barc0001 at 3:09 AM on November 2, 2007

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