Room humidifiers - which is best?

November 14, 2006 at 05:59 AM · On David Burgess's excellent website, he gives his opinion on the best way to keep a room humid. I agree strongly with everything he writes, except for one thing:

He recommends the small mist-type humidifiers because 1: They are cheap and 2: They don't create mold.

Good points, but I think they are very dangerous, because it's easy to forget to fill them, just one day, and have a catstophic drop in humidity.

I do not have the type of heating system that can have a "whole house" humidifier added. So, I am looking for a mist-type units that can be permanently attached to the water-supply. Does anyone know of such a unit? Price is not a concern.

Alternatively, perhaps some kind of plumbing device could be rigged, using a ball & check mechanism? Any ideas

Replies (8)

November 14, 2006 at 12:39 PM · Allen;

I'd agree that some kind of filling device would be nice, but haven't done anythng myself because I thought flooding or overflow would be more of an immediate hazard than low humidity.

The little vaporizer capacity is often good for a week, depending on the environment, and one can double the capacity by using two.

If you make something yourself, a "proven" valve which would do what you want might be one of the plastic toilet tank valves (Fluidmaster brand). The float is integrated, sliding up and down the column, and it's been tested and proven (at least on toilets :-)

You'd need to make your own reservoir with a top which would accomodate the "steam" portion of the cheap vaporizer.

I wouldn't do this though without incorporating an overflow going to a drain, something similar to what you would also find in a toilet tank.

You'd still want to change the water occasionally to keep mineral concentrations from rising.


If you room you want to humidify already has a toilet, this should be very simple. Just make a new top for the tank to hold the steam head.

Or you could buy a toilet tank for the reservoir, sealing the unused holes. They're available in a variety of designer colors....

Sounds like I have a thing for toilets, doesn't it? ;-)

Let me know what you come up with.

November 14, 2006 at 12:55 PM · i have a humidifier installed in the hot air system for the house. even at high level, the humidity is not high enough. so i have individual humidifier in each room also.

i have seen larger unit used by violin dealers that i don't think you have to add water daily.

i wonder, if you have a rather tight sealed violin case and if you just put a cup of water/equivalent to evaporate inside the case, is that humidity enough for the violin?

November 14, 2006 at 02:43 PM · If it's just a matter of forgetting to fill up the vaporizer, I can tell you how to make a water level alarm for it using only a sharp knife and some electrical tape. Better than hacking up a toilet.

November 14, 2006 at 03:12 PM · I use small cool-mist humidifiers in two rooms. It takes a few days for them to run dry. We run a woodstove at times, but it is far enough from the room where I keep my instruments and practice that it doesn't heat that space much. I keep a big iron kettle full on stovetop. Keep in mind that a cooler house is not as dry. When using the furnace, we hold ours at 65-68', and wear socks,sweaters and fleeces. I also bought several Planet Waves versions of case humidifiers. They seem to hold water a long time. Be sure you put your instrument in its case and close completely when not playing whether you have internal humidifiers or not. This should help slow down sudden changes to your instruments. Sue

November 14, 2006 at 03:33 PM · sue, not sure how to interpret that,,"Keep in mind that a cooler house is not as dry."

i think temperature and humidity are independent. however, if the house is well humidified, it actually "feels" warmer because evaporation, which makes us feel cooler, is less efficient.

so in a way, to lower the heating bill over the winter, humidify the house:)

November 14, 2006 at 04:36 PM · Sue is right. Relative humidity will go down with higher temperature, and up with lower temperature.

For example, if air at 60 degrees F and 70% relative humidity is raised to 80 degrees F, the humidity drops to 35%.

That's why homes in cold climates tend to be dry inside in the winter. Even if the outside air is 100% humidity at 30 degrees, heating it to indoor temperature drops it to about 23%.

Al, I'm not sure I buy into the energy savings of keeping humidity up, even though it's widely claimed by humidifier manufacturers. Yes, higher humidity feels warmer because perspiration doesn't evaporate as well, but it also takes a good deal of energy to vaporize water.

From Jim W. Miller;

"Better than hacking up a toilet."

Who says? I was thinking an old toilet might make a nice piece of furniture and serve as an extra chair. Parents could sit there and read while their children are taking violin lessons, for instance. :-)

November 14, 2006 at 08:21 PM · david, by "dry" we have to define first if we mean by water vapor present per unit cube or relative amount of vapor it has vs it can hold, right? the 2 entities have more of an inverse relationship, no?

may be i should have used a better term than "independent". many numbers are derived at sea level and in a closed system where water vapor does not come in or leak out. in reality, that is hardly the case.

prof burgess, i am laboring,,,in an effort to get partial credit:)

November 20, 2006 at 06:51 PM · because I am in a "dry" climate (Arizona) I am constantly concerned about humidity levels. While I have no problems in a smaller area with using a humidifier, especially one with a lower setting and a double reservoir so that even over the weekend, the moisture keeps on pumping. My main problem is in a larger area. While I have an evaporative cooler set up, this helps wonderfully in the summer, keeping both the temperature down and the humidity up, it doesn't work as well in the winter (unless i want to turn my storage area into a room suitable for storing frozen foods). There are some portable evaporative coolers with a temperature setting that I am currently trying, that (as of November) are working well. When I left for the VSA everything was around 43% and when I returned it was at 36% (and out of water).

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