Constant-temperature dehumidification

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On Tue, 19 Sep 2006 13:17:03 -0400, in misc.consumers.frugal-living Joe Fischer

Every September when the kids go back to school we all get colds. I don't think fiddling with the humidity in the house is going to change that. Besides for 9 months out of the year the humidity here is nearly 100% in these parts and those are the 9 months we are all sick. Currently it's 57 F with 77% Humidity (the sun is shining) and we all have runny noses from head colds.
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On Tue, 19 Sep 2006 10:48:44 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Is it when the kids go back to school, or when the heating season starts?

Maybe not, there are other reasons for head colds, that everyone may be subject to, even if humidity is ok, chills, not enough sleep, close contact with others who have colds.

The outside humidity doesn't matter, having heat on in the house does.

Makes me feel bad just to hear about it.
I try to stay away from people with colds, but that would be difficult for kids in school. While I would like to use as little heating fuel as possible, I feel comfort and health are important, so I keep the house warm, and I don't usually worry about humidity until the temperature goes down to 40 F, and even then, I only run the humidifier at night as long as it stays above 10 degrees F.
Trying to get by with too little heat can cause more colds, but once it starts, there is no way to tell what caused it.
I had a weightlifter friend who never had a head cold, until we stayed up all night playing cards, and that did it, at least that is what he blamed it on.
Maybe I should have mentioned, it is the changes in humidity that cause the problem, being that I always humidify when a humidistat shows it needs it, I don't have the big changes in humidity.
Even in a spic and span clean house, the changes in humidity can cause problems, almost everything from expensive furniture to fabrics last longer if humidity is kept at a constant 50 percent RH, although experts may recommend 40 or 45.
It should be worth discussing with the family and see if each one has any ideas on where or what causes each cold, I know I am completely miserable, even totally incapacitated from it at times. Some people can go outside in shirt sleeves in 50 degree weather, but not me. If the water is changed daily in the Vicks vaporizer in my bedroom, it only costs me about $12 a year to buy a new vaporizer. Doctors will recommend a vaporizer after a person gets a cold, better to get the vaporizer before the cold and save the doctor bill.
Joe Fischer
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On Tue, 19 Sep 2006 14:35:51 -0400, Joe Fischer

LOL Let me guess... wet hair as well?

Bingo. Forget the other stuff.

You need to do some reading before spreading old-wives' tales. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_cold

My mother-in-law used to claim that all the bad weather started after they sent up Sputnik.
Wayne
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wrote:

Here in NY, when the kids go back to school you can bet on them catching colds. Before the heating season starts. Just all those kids confined in a classroom for 5-6 hours, with some individuals with questionable hygiene almost guarantees it.
But the 'heating season' does have a contributing factor. Less ventilation in a house means virii are not dispersed as quickly.
And although I haven't seen any definitive studies, it does seem that dried out sinuses are more susceptible to infection. But that's just my own anecdotal observation.
daestrom
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On Tue, 19 Sep 2006 20:34:06 GMT, "daestrom"

There ain't none o' them thar virii on my house!

I wish I could say it isn't so, but I have done 75 years of definitive study of a nose making what sometimes seem like a gallon an hour.
One way that I reduced the severity and length of the cold is to use bounty towels instead of hankies or Kleenex, and it helps keeping the nose from getting so red and sore, I only use each one once and throw it away.
It sounds like you and Nick did not appreciate or understand what I posted about the absorption and emission of water vapor from carpets and fabrics.
And there is a huge difference in noses, some (me) actually have capillary bleeding if the air gets too dry, sometimes a cold follows, sometimes not.
I can feel the drying of my sinus in a 20 mile trip in the car with A/C set to 70 degrees on a hot day.
The problem is, studies may not show anything definite about the nose, and the "disease" is not considered serious enough to warrant serious study. But I am surprised there is not definitive data on the drying of expensive wood items, especially antiques and artifacts.
So any company that sells humidifiers should keep on selling, and advertise what they do for wood and fabrics, if not for people or noses. I don't have any fine wood items, but I have a nose that has a lot of influence on my H, V, and A/C.
Maybe it would be nice if you could share a little of your open mindedness with Nick. :-)
Joe Fischer
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wrote:

No, I don't think so. I was pointing out that dewpoint is a much better measure of the amount of moisture in the air than RH. After all, in the winter time around here when it's 20F, the weather report often says humidity is above 75%. Of course that's the RH at the prevailing temperature (20F) and not very meaningful. You have to do a lot of calculations or use a chart to figure out what that would be if heated up to 70F. But compare the dewpoint (about 15F) with a desired dewpoint of 45F and it's easy to tell that the air is really 'dry'.

My son has that problem. If I don't humidify the house, he'll wake up with blood stains on his pillow each morning.

Airplane trips are another nasty one. The air at 35,000 feet has a very low dewpoint.

I'm sure there is. Museums often put precious relics in climate controlled cases. Gettysburg has a lot of Civil War memorabilia that is preserved this way. Uniforms and leather items are subject to this issue as well.

Well, I agree with Nick that humidification costs you energy, it doesn't save energy. But that's not to say that you shouldn't do something to control the humidity levels. Nick likes to play with numbers and posit some 'we could' or 'it might'. Gets people thinking. If we reduce the air-exchange rate, we don't have to work as hard to maintain a nice humidity level. Nick is fond of quoting ASHRAE (the manuals cost a lot, may as well get his money's worth). I'm not so sure that as little as 15 cfm is enough to maintain "indoor pollution" levels, but I have to agree that most US homes are much too 'leaky'. An air-exchange every couple of hours seems like way too much.
But then, I lived on a submarine for years, so I may be a little more sensitive to air contamination issues than some folks. Ventilation is one way to reduce indoor air pollution levels, but removing the source of the contaminants is another. No contaminants, don't need much ventilation. Little ventilation, less moisture needs to be constantly added to maintain 'comfort' levels.
daestrom
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On Thu, 21 Sep 2006 20:48:19 GMT, "daestrom"

Aren't they related?

I think the weather man here shows dew points when there is storm danger.

I haven't had it for a long time, because I hate the colds so much. I have had jobs where I was in close contact with a lot of people, and worked outside in all kinds of weather, but only got a cold when the humidity wasn't kept high while sleeping.

I think even food needs to be kept in a controlled environment to stay fresh and edible longer.

Most homes have plaster or drywall walls and ceilings, so there isn't much that can be done other than doors and windows. The modern furnace has eliminated the loss to vented flame, so it gets down pretty much to windows.
Is Nick a window salesman? :-) :-)

I had the impression that I was reducing ventilation when I began using baseboard electric in place of vented gas stoves. Five years ago I turned off the supply valve to my 1960 Magic Chef range so I would not have to run two pilot lights for the top burners and one for the oven.
Two years ago I replaced the gas water heater with an electric, and assumed the new one would be insulated well enough to not use much electric, I have my laundry done out, and only use hot water for bathing (not often enough).
I have done a lot of sealing on the house, not all to reduce ventilation. I sealed one room on the inside with clear silicone so I would not have to repaint at the time, but I sealed that to reduce pollution caused by my Aunt having casual labor blow insulation in the attic, and this house (any house) should have an expert seal the attic and prepare it properly before installing. This house was especially bad because it wasn't plastered, it had one inch oak run vertically for the interior walls, and that leaves cracks.
I also sealed the two back rooms that were replaced in 1937 after the flood took off the two original added-on rooms, but not to save energy, I did it to keep out the rotten Box Elder bugs that are totally harmless and don't get into food, and only want a warm place to winter (but they look too much like young cockroaches). 5000 in the kitchen was too much for me when they tried to find their way outside in the spring, and the neighbor won't let me cut down the Manitoba Maple (Box Elder).
I have pretty much abandoned the outside and back yard, the environment has become hostile with snakes, stray cats by the dozen, raccoons, opossum, groundhogs, moles, squirrels, huge spiders, carpenter bees, wasps, hornets, mosquitos, sand fleas, and fleas and ticks spread by the cats and the rotten Box Elders.
So a little ventilation is not so bad, as long as it is through the screen door. I don't have a powered ventilator with humidistat, but I have a through-the-wall fan, and being every doorway in the house has a door (no arches), I can either circulate air around four rooms to achieve even cooling or heat and to avoid stale air in a room, or I can open the back door and front door and close the kitchen door, and the fan will draw air in the front door screen and out the back porch screen.
A small fan uses a lot less power than an A/C, and if the house is hot on cool nights, the fan is the thing to use, less noise and fresh air.
Note that Nick inserts smileys :-), he does that because he knows the decimal places are meaningless after the calculation is over. :-)
I have no idea how to proceed if I were to try to approach the dry air at night in winter problem by trying to control ventilation. I can't totally seal the outside doors, that is the only place air can enter if I am forced to run the Cozy stoves. I see unvented stoves and heaters for sale, but I don't want one. All I can do is use as little electric resistance as possible, and have full use of the whole house on milder days. And continue to run the steam humidifier/ vaporizer while I am sleeping only, when the outside temp is below 40.
Joe Fischer
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Sure. Tdp (R) = T(R)/(1+T(R)ln(RH%/100)/9621.)

Pilots suspect fog if the dew point is within a few degrees of the air temp.

No...
Airseal your house.
Nick
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On 21 Sep snipped-for-privacy@ece.villanova.edu wrote:

You have a one-track mind :-)
When you get to be an injun ear, work on the fine points, not the generalities. :-)
If I seal my house ___AIRTIGHT___, leave on vacation when it is 70 F outside with everything turned off, and return after it has been 20 degrees outside for a week, and the indoor temp is 40 degrees F, and RH is 50 percent, how much water would I need to add if I raise the air temp to 70 F and want 50 percent RH.
Joe Fischer
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Good question. And your answer?
And your point?
Nick
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Still waiting...
Nick
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Joe Fischer wrote:

Right now (4:00am ) in Houston TX, using data from a TV station with studios about 3 miles away,
Temp is 81F DewPoint is 75F
Pretty high RH, eh??
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wrote:

Yes, but you have to 'adjust' the RH from the temperature it is measured at, to the temperature that you want. Dewpoint doesn't need adjusting. A dewpoint above about 55F is 'high humidity' and a dewpoint below 30F is 'low humidity'. Period, all the time, every way you look at it.
<snip>

No, but I can see how you might think that :-)

Yes, those things do reduce the ventilation. But if you have 'leaky' walls and window casings, a mildly windy day can completely overwhelm those savings. A lot of modern stoves/ovens use electronic ignition to avoid pilots. When you replaced the water heater, did you seal off the flue?
Funny thing about pilot lights though, when the natural gas burns it forms CO2 and H2O. So a small pilot actually puts some moisture into the air. Now, whether that actually raises humidity, or lowers it would depend on the water vapor formed by the burning gas, versus the increase in air-exchange with dryer outside air (and just how dry the outside air is).

Hmmmm.... cracks bad.... nice oak wood walls, good (esthetically pleasing).
<snip>

As with most things in life, the key is finding the right balance. And what's right for you....

Trade offs. If you could seal the doors better, and maybe a few other obvious air leaks, you might not need the 'Cozy stoves' most days. Depends on how cold it gets, how many sweaters you were, and how much other insulation the house has. But once you have to start them, you need ventilation to avoid CO poisoning.

Good luck.
daestrom
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I don't know, ask somebody who takes a bath.

Sorry, Doctor, there may be colds that are "caught", but mine come from inflamed sinus irritated by dry air.

Glad you have such faith in articles written by just anybody who wants to write or modify them.
The only old-wives tale I know of about dry air is "sleep with the window open". I tried that one night in a hotel in Lorain Ohio in the winter of 62-63 and woke up with eight inches of snow on the bed.

That's right, it was a long cold war, too, but thankfully not many on either side died in battle.
Joe Fischer
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On Tue, 19 Sep 2006 18:16:07 -0400, Joe Fischer

No, that's just what you *believe*.

<sigh> http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/common-cold/DS00056/DSECTION=3 Although I predict that you won't believe the Mayo Clinic either. The fact is that the cause of the common cold has been known for a long time. Unfortunately, a lot of people insist on spreading nonsense instead.
Wayne
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You gave a wiki link and had to switch to Mayo. :-)

As much as any medical institution, I do, but nobody is perfect.

And those of us who know the most frequent cause of head colds don't get them unless we neglect to maintain the steam humidifier, or get chilled, or not get enough sleep, or get too close to somebody who has a cold and doesn't try to contain the germs.
I didn't say that germs are not involved, in fact, I said germs are involved and that a steam humidifier does a lot to prevent irritation of sensitive membranes in the airway.
Apparently you assumed Mayo Clinic to be more perfect than they themselves believe, as shown;
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/common-cold/DS00056/DSECTION=4
from your link.
I do other things besides run the humidifier, if I get chilled or get a ticklish throat, I put salt in my mouth in lieu of gargling salt water, I take an extra vitamin pill, and I moisten my mouth and breath in through my mouth and out my nose, which puts moist air across the dry membranes of both throat and nose.
The important thing is to try to do something about it before it gets to the point of being a full blown head cold. I can only remember the last 75 winters, of which only the last 55 apply to my suggestion, as the places I lived before that didn't have forced air heat. If I run the steam humidifier to maintain 50 percent relative humidity at night, that helps prevent not only irritated nasal membranes, but also migration of germs from carpet and fabrics drying out. Fifty percent relativity is just an easy to maintain number, possibly in a clean house any constant relative humidity that does not irritate the sensitive nasal or airway passages would do as well. (Constant RH!)
JoeFischer
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Hot water huymidification techniques increase germ breeding and are not recommended for sinus problems anymore. Welcome to the 90's
wrote:

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On Wed, 20 Sep 2006 20:23:41 -0400, "Solar Flare"

There is no germ breeding, the vapor is steam, the water is fresh from the tap every day with ample clorine, and I don't think I have a sinus problem, I do have a dry air problem if I don't humidify when the outside temperature is below 40 F.
I also think I would have even more of a problem if I had a forced air furnace which could raise temperatures fast, the baseboard heat is not able to catch up very quickly if I let it get behind.
Joe Fischer
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The medical people disagree with you. The heated water vapour is a breeding ground for bacteria and virii. Not recomended for treatment of sinus, ear or cold infections. Cold water humidifiers are recommended but they leave deposits of dust everywhere.
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On Wed, 20 Sep 2006 12:58:04 -0400, Joe Fischer

"Involved" eh? Previously you wrote that "there may be colds that are caught, but mine come from inflamed sinus irritated by dry air." So here's your opportunity to make your opinion clear - do you believe that you can catch a cold *without* exposure to a virus?

RH here this morning is 2%, but it can shift quickly and wildly during monsoon season (just ending). According to your theory, we should be afflicted by colds constantly. How do you explain the fact that we go years between colds?
Your advice reminds me of the self-titled country doctor who claimed a miracle cure for the common cold. When a patient complained that he still had the cold after a few days, the "doctor" told him the cure takes at least a week.
Wayne
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