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.
On Tue, 19 Sep 2006 10:48:44 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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.
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
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 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. :-)
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
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
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
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.
On 21 Sep email@example.com 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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;
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
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!)
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.
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.
"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.
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