Ask a Question forum: Using a humidifier

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New York City (Zone 7b)
jungleboy
Apr 30, 2016 11:46 AM CST
I bought 2 cool mist humidifiers, one for the bedroom and one for the living room.

I also purchased 2 hygrometers to measure the humidity percentage. Surprisingly, the humidity level is only around 35% in both rooms! How can i get the humidity level to 60% and higher?

Here is a link to my humidifer. Did I purchase the correct one?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002QAYJPO/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_d...

Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Apr 30, 2016 11:52 AM CST
Welcome! to NGA

Jungleboy, you really will be living in the jungle if you get your humidity to 60%. You might even grow some mold. If you want more humidity, get more humidifiers - each one can only do so much. It sounds like two just aren't enough for what you want to accomplish. The humidity will likely rise in summer.

Central heat and air tend to lower humidity in a house.

Daisy
[Last edited by DaisyI - Apr 30, 2016 11:54 AM (+)]
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New York City (Zone 7b)
jungleboy
Apr 30, 2016 12:08 PM CST
Isn't the ideal humidity for most houseplants 50-60%?

I invested in the humidifiers thinking I could bring the room to that humidity, or at least close to it..
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
Apr 30, 2016 12:30 PM CST
I have about 2000 house plants and run 3 humidifiers in the winter. Realistic % to hope for would be 35-40. Make sure you only put distilled water in your humidifiers. Where you place them makes a difference. Adding a fan to circulate the air might also help. Keep your eyes on the inside of your windows. Great indicator of how you are doing. Gene
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Apr 30, 2016 1:02 PM CST
[quote="gasrocks"]I have about 2000 house plants and run 3 humidifiers in the winter.

Wow, what all do you grow? How in the world do you water all of them? We need photos! Hurray!
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Apr 30, 2016 1:55 PM CST
Maybe just get more plants. They add humidity to a house because they respirate as part of photosynthesis. And add a fan as Gasrocks advised. It will also help keep the mildew at bay.

My daughter manages to keep her house at about 35% in the winter time with aquariums and terrariums. She doesn't have any fish, just plants. In the aquariums, water plants with snails and glass shrimp to keep the algae down. In the terrariums, orchids that like humidity such as Masdevallia and Restrepia. She also keeps sundews for small insect control (and they always have their feet in water). The humidity often drops to 0% here in the desert so keeping her house at 35% with just plants is pretty good.

I'm on my way to her house. I'll add photos later.

Daisy
New York City (Zone 7b)
jungleboy
Apr 30, 2016 2:10 PM CST
The humidifier already has a built in fan.

I want figure out a way to make the humidity 50-60% which is ideal for most house plants.

I would rather buy a bigger more powerful humidifier that achieves that, instead of just having a bunch of smaller ones around.
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
Apr 30, 2016 2:17 PM CST
You will not get to 50-60% and still want to live there yourself. My plants thrive at 35-40%. Been doing this for years. Be realistic about how big an area your humidifier can handle. Read the book that came with it. Gene
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 30, 2016 2:26 PM CST
On the rare cold nights in winter here, when our humidity actually drops below 30% or so, I hang wet towels around the house. I keep adding towels until the windows start to fog up, and that's when I know I've got the humidity up there high enough for my orchids (which are hiding in the house from the cold temperatures). Do your laundry at night, and hang the clothes and towels around to air dry. Run your dishwasher at night and leave the door open when it finishes so the moisture escapes into the room. Don't run your exhaust fans when you're cooking or showering. Again, this keeps moist air in the house.

I learned all those things when we lived in Utah, high desert, very dry. In summer we cooled the house with a swamp cooler aka "evaporative cooler" so that helped with indoor humidity a lot. But in winter the dry air is brutal (I just got back from visiting my kids there). The wet towels are the most effective thing, if you have the patience to do that.

Humidity trays under your plants are also a great way to raise the humidity right around the plants (although more humid air is good for you, too). A plastic or metal tray with pebbles in it (so the bottoms of the pots are held up out of the water, and then kept full of water are a tried and true method. They don't use a whole bunch of electricity to run, either. Surface area is key - the bigger the tray, (and the more wet pebbles) the more humidity.
Elaine

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Name: Alyssa Blue
Ohio (Zone 5b)
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AlyssaBlue
Apr 30, 2016 6:55 PM CST
Jungleboy- I've lived both in the desert, and in humid spots where it could get to 65% humidity. My plants have done a lot better in the desert house than super humid, because once humidity rises above say, 40-45%, thus begins the delicate balance of trying not to overwater, and also avoiding fungus growth on the plants. I think 35% is optimal for plants. If you have certain ones that need more humidity, maybe try a small indoor greenhouse for those plants.

You've got the experienced people answering above- lucky day!! They have good ideas.

Edit: I just have to say....Gene....2000 plants? Wowee! I think that would be the point my husband would say, "Honey, I can't find the door". I would answer "Take a left by the ficus and a right by the monstera then go down the pothos walkway". Just teasing- must be very cool!!!!
[Last edited by AlyssaBlue - Apr 30, 2016 7:11 PM (+)]
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Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
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ShadyGreenThumb
Apr 30, 2016 7:07 PM CST
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Apr 30, 2016 7:50 PM CST
That's where I went, would YOU want to live in a house with 60 or 65% humidity? You would probably have pneumonia in a week.
Name: James
Corpus Christi, TX (Zone 9b)
(Heat zone - 9, Sunset zone - 28)
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JamesAcclaims
Apr 30, 2016 9:01 PM CST
Granted, I live in a coastal environment, but my household humidity levels fluctuate between 55% and 72% every day. It usually averages around 62%. It's never affected any of us negatively. Actually, if it gets too dry in the house all of our allergies go crazy, and my eczema flares up. I think 62% is perfect. Our humidity outside here is usually pretty high though. Currently it's at 89%, clear skies, no chance of rain. So, I guess we're just used to it?
I do see that you live in New York. It may be a little too cool to support those humidity levels.
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[Last edited by JamesAcclaims - Apr 30, 2016 9:04 PM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 30, 2016 9:17 PM CST
Yeah, lots of people live in high humidity environments with no ill effects. In fact, it is more healthy for breathing and preventing allergies, as James points out. We have the windows open for more than half the year here, and it's rare for our humidity to fall below 30%.

Come to think of it, if you count all the people who live in the tropics and coastal places, probably more than half the world's population lives in high humidity.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Alyssa Blue
Ohio (Zone 5b)
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AlyssaBlue
Apr 30, 2016 10:49 PM CST
Well James, I give you credit! Me? When I would travel east from AZ, with a long layover in Houston, I thought I was going to wilt! Hilarious!

Related to Jungleboy's question- For example- Corpus Christi is on the Gulf, it is the natural environment to be humid. I would think it be a problem to manipulate higher humidity in an enclosed area where outdoor humidity is normally around 35%. As opposed to it being the natural environment southern Texas. I'm thinking the homes in NY are just not made for higher humidity. Doors won't close the same, mold may grow, fungus on plants, etc. Especially during summer. We use a dehumidifier during summer to avoid those things..
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
May 1, 2016 12:40 AM CST
I'll share another tip/trick I use. I have a forced air furnace. The act of heating air removes moisture from it. Therefore there is a drain hose inside of your furnace to get rid of the water. It usually goes outside and because we are talking about winter time, it has to have a heating element inside of it so it will not freeze. I learned about all of this when my heating element died, line froze, water started coming out inside of the house and made a mess. Service call. I had the repairman plug up the hole going outside, take that same drain line and reroute it. It now comes out next to the furnace where there is a 5 gal. bucket under it. Free "distilled water." I would not drink it but it is clean enough to put in a humidifier. Most winter days the amount of water that comes out of the furnace about equals the amount I am putting in humidifiers. In the Spring and Fall when I am not running the humidifiers, I save some of the water and build up a supply. Gallon jars. Works well. I have been doing this for many years. Yes, it requires me to be home once in a while to empty the bucket but no issues so far. You need to only put distilled water in any humidifier. Learned this from experience. Got tired of cheating and using tap water and then buying a new humidifier each year. Gene
Name: James
Corpus Christi, TX (Zone 9b)
(Heat zone - 9, Sunset zone - 28)
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JamesAcclaims
May 1, 2016 7:17 AM CST
Definitely in places like Arizona, it might be a problem, because the moisture would build up quickly inside along walls, air ducts, things like that. As far as New York, you guys aren't in a desert. I would think you wouldn't have too much of a problem. Like others have stated, just watch your windows, walls, etc. If you have moisture buildup then it's too humid and you need to open a window and let some moisture out. It all just depends on the relative humidity outside in regards to how high you can keep the humidity inside. For example, it is currently at 58% humidity inside my house, and it feels awfully dry in here (to me), so I will be adding some moisture into the environment (Air Conditioners create a drier environment, and it was 95 degrees yesterday, so we are using AC). Our humidity outdoors is currently at 91%. So, I could easily add moisture and bump our humidity indoors to around 85% to 88% and have no problems and no condensation issues or worries. As a side note--I will not be making it that humid in here.

I do have humidifiers (cool air) that I use in the winter, because the heater dries everything up so much. If my 2 humidifiers aren't keeping up because the furnace is so hot, rather than buying more humidifiers, I just boil water on the stove. It puts moisture into the air and it also raises the temp. in the house, so it's a win win. Thumbs up
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
May 1, 2016 10:20 AM CST
When I first started with plants many decades ago, I knocked myself out with the humidity question because the conventional wisdom said that most houseplants come from tropical regions where humidity is high. I used various devices and humidifiers to increase my humidity. I also invested in many different hygrometers trying to figure it all out. It was a lot of time and money spent.

Some years later I began caring for plants in commercial office spaces in NYC where winter air is as dry as the desert and where I had no control over increasing humidity. To my surprise, those office plants all thrived, even in the dead of winter.

Although most indoor plants do come from humid regions, in most instances these plants can adapt quite well to very dry air as long as they are watered properly through their roots. Of course, increased humidity never hurts, but why knock yourself out unnecessarily, unless you have a lot of ferns and other plants typically grown in terrariums?

On the same subject, misting does little to increase humidity for more than about 15 minutes after misting. Likewise, bathrooms have raised humidity for only a short time during and right after someone showers.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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