There’s Just Nothing Sexy About Humidifiers

humidifier buying guideIt’s true, sadly.  There’s nothing sexy about humidifiers. You’re not likely to boast about your streamlined ultrasonic humidifier like it’s a BMW or a new iPhone 5, but it’s probably a more important purchase than either of those.  So when you think of the great conversations of your life, more than likely it won’t be the debate between a warm air and a cool air humidifier, you should spend some time on it.  Without knowing the differences between the various models and options, you might as well toss money down the metaphorical drain.  You may end up choosing the option that absolutely doesn’t meet your needs, wasting money and time and definitely creating a frustrating situation.

Instead of allowing you to make that mistake, we’ll help you discover which option best suits your needs so that you can invest wisely.

Do You Need a Humidifier?

How do you know if you even need a humidifier? Most people wait until cold or flu symptoms have them coughing to consider a humidifier, but other scenarios may make the regular use of a humidifier a positive change for your home.  Think about whether or not the following scenarios fit your home or family:

  • You are frequently “shocked” by static electricity when you touch surfaces.
  • The rooms you are in seem colder than they should, based on your thermostat setting.
  • Your nasal passages and throat seem oddly dry.
  • You or your family members suffer from cracked lips, bloody noses, or excessively dry skin.
  • You’d like to keep cold and flu viruses from spreading as quickly.
  • Someone is coughing at night, leading to less sleep and more illness.
  • You’re frequently running the heater during the winter or air conditioner during the summer.

If you’ve found yourself nodding to one or more of these, then a humidifier may be an inexpensive solution so some pretty obnoxious problems.

Which Humidifier Is Best for You?

A humidifier is a humidifier is a humidifier, right?  Well, yes and no.  They all work basically the same way—a reservoir of water is turned into a fine mist to compensate for a lack of humidity in the room. Depending on your circumstances and the purpose for the purchase, one type of model may be better than another.

Types of Humidifiers

Standard, Ultrasonic, Impeller, UV Germ Free—Oh My!

humidifier buying guide

With a sea of options before you, how do you choose the “right” humidifier? Ultimately, you’ll choose the one that works best for you.

A standard humidifier uses a fan to blow water through a wicking filter, which propels a fine mist into the room.  These are the cheapest options, though they may not be the easiest to use (you may need to take them apart to refill, etc.).  You’ll likely find a wide variety of designs, including some that are adorably animal shaped, to suit your décor.

If you’re looking for quiet above all, an ultrasonic humidifier may be the best bet.  It’s quieter than most any other model, almost so quiet that you may not even realize that it’s on.  Rather than using a fan, this type of humidifier uses ultrasonic sound waves to vibrate a metal diaphragm, which breaks the water down into a fine mist.

Impeller humidifiers use a spinning disk to spin water toward a diffuser, which breaks the water down into the fine droplets that are dispersed as a fine mist.  These types do not require any filter replacement but can, as a result, be more prone to leave a mineral deposit residue on furniture (which usually looks like a white film) if the water contains any mineral properties at all.

UV Germ Free humidifiers use an ultraviolet light to kill 99% of germs and bacteria present in the water, something that may be attractive to people with compromised immune systems or the parents of young children.  This technology is available on many warm mist humidifiers and, only recently, some cool mist models as well.

Cool or Warm Mist Humidifier?

Warm mist humidifiers may be very attractive for those who suffer with winter issues, like dry skin and nasal passages, simply because it will more quickly warm up a room rather than contribute to the chill.  As an added bonus, these models are often quieter than the fans of the cool mist humidifiers.

However, because the warm mist humidifier boils the water inside the unit and emits the steam, they can be dangerous.  The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend their use for children, simply because if children accidentally touch the steam or the unit is tipped, they can be burned by the water.  The machine itself, with the heating element inside, also gets quite warm. For adults who know to be cautious, the warm mist humidifier can be a much better and more comfortable solution for winter usage.


Cool mist humidifiers are recommended for homes with small children or pets.


The cool mist humidifier is probably the most popular and safest of the models, simply because it does not pose any risk other than a minor water spill if knocked over and the mist is harmless to children and pets.  It can be used regardless of season (nobody wants boiling water during the spring and summer, when allergies may require the use of a humidifier) and can double as a white noise machine for those who need them (perfect for babies and young children).

A Word of Caution: Using Humidifiers Properly

No solution is a good solution if it is not maintained properly.  Humidifiers, especially, need more careful attention because of its use of standing water. Warm, moist environments can become a danger rather than a help, but only if you do not pay attention to and follow manufacturer’s recommendations.

These recommendations usually involve using distilled or demineralized water rather than tap water, frequently replacing the water in the reservoir, wiping down the interior parts, and cleaning regularly with a hydrogen peroxide solution. These steps are simple and straightforward, ensuring that the positive benefits that you receive from your humidifier are the only things you get from them.

If you’re concerned about oversaturating the air, look for a model with a humidistat, or a built-in sensor that measures the humidity of a room.  These models will turn off when they reach a set humidity level, ensuring that you do not develop condensation on windows, furniture, and fabrics (or create a mold-loving environment.)

Some recommendations

HCW10B-mThe Luma HCW10B is perfect for the bedroom or office in your house. It offers both cool and warm mist modes, so you don’t have to choose and you can adjust the settings depending on the season. It’s built in hygrometer also offers custom humidity control.

The Luma HC12W is a fashion statement for any large room. Designed to look like a tall vase, it is unobtrusive and can blend seamlessly with your existing decor. It is an ultrasonic cool mist humidifier. The HC12W humidifier also has several different attachments so you can adjust the height of the unit. This means that not only can you put it anywhere, but you can also determine the coverage by adjusting the stem’s height. This unit will never get your couch or floor wet, just add more tubing to the top so that the mist is released higher up. With a handy remote control included, what more could you want?

Whatever model you choose, using your humidifier properly and safely can alleviate many problems that you may have thought you just had to live with. Make springtime allergies, wintertime colds, and seasonal dry skin easier with a humidifier!

The Care and Keeping of Stringed Instruments

Caring for Stringed InstrumentsMy violin has the scratches, dings, and dents of two lifetimes. I am at least the second owner (probably the third or fourth actually) and it has been through a lot. In 2004, it was fished out of my great uncle’s attic because I had outgrown my student model. The velvet on the inside of the case had bonded with the violin and the instrument looked as if it was covered in permanent

Since my violin was rehabilitated, it has been on two continents for concert tours, it played for Bob Dylan at one of his benefits to fund the arts in schools, and has played in the pit orchestras of 10+ musicals. I’ve been gifted with a great instrument, but it’s been through hard times too. It’s been in high humidity, low humidity, and everything in between. I’ve even played a concert in the rain under a leaky awning. So, I have to care for my instrument to keep it working properly.dust. However, my mom and I were able to scrub until it shone again. Granted, it still looks old and it lacks the mirror shine of many new instruments, but it plays like a dream.

Here are some tips of what I do to keep my instrument in perfect working order:

  • Don’t let others handle it. There were several instances when I was playing in orchestras when I watched my friends goofing off with each other’s instruments. It’s not a wise idea. When you’re a violinist, you know how to hold and care for a violin. A cellist or bassist is not going to have that same expertise. Someone with no musical experience is not going to know not to touch the bow hair or not to pick a violin up by the bridge.
  • Keep your instrument in a safe place. Never lean your violin against anything. I’ve also seen people who hang their violin from the scroll. It is damaging to the instrument and it is just asking for trouble. If it can be tipped over, then you are betting on good luck to keep it safe. Also, don’t leave your instrument on chairs because people tend to sit without looking. The best places for your instrument are in your hands, on a table, or in its case.
  • Never leave your instrument in a car! This is probably my biggest pet peeve. If you wouldn’t leave a baby in a car unattended, then you shouldn’t leave your instrument. They are both fragile. Car temperatures can reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which is enough to bubble or even melt the varnish. This is irreparable damage to an instrument. Also, cold temperatures can cause damage as well if the instrument freezes. If this happens, allow your instrument to thaw in its case to avoid seams opening and condensation forming. It is best just to take your instrument with you. I have gone grocery shopping with my violin in the cart before.
  • When storing your instrument for an extended period of time, it should be tuned down a half step to ensure that any changes in heat or humidity don’t damage the instrument and to ensure that the tension of the strings doesn’t cause damage over time.
  • Maintenance of your instrument is minimal, but it is important to develop good habits. After playing, always wipe the rosin and perspiration off the instrument. These can be corrosive when left on the instrument for too long. Always loosen the bow when you finish playing. The tension can warp the bow shaft or it can cause the horse hair to release, making the bow unusable. Strings should be replaced every 3-4 months, depending on how often you play.
  • Humidity is important for your violin. Because stringed instruments are wood, moisture must be consistent. Too much moisture and the wood will become oversaturated,Luma Comfort HCW10Bleading to warping and the seams opening up. Too little moisture and cracking can occur. However, it is always better to err on the side of too much humidity. Humidity levels for the room or case that the instrument is in should be kept between 35% and 55%. Use a humidifier if humidity drops below 35%. The Luma Comfort HCW10B humidifier can maintain the humidity in your practice room because it has a built-in hygrometer to control levels. If humidity levels are consistent, then the instrument can be left out of the case without damage. If you are outside the home and need a humidity boost, then put a wet paper towel in a perforated zip lock baggie. Put this in the case’s accessories compartment to humidify the environment.
  • Temperature should be consistent for your instrument. Your instrument should never be subjected to any conditions that would make you uncomfortable. Keeping the temperature consistent will prevent the wood from warping or cracking. Stringed instruments should also be kept out of direct sunlight. Sunlight can create unbalanced temperatures, but it can also bleach the varnish or wood of the instrument. Even your case should be kept out of direct sunlight because it would be the equivalent of storing your case in an oven.
  • Cleaning your instrument is a simple process. Wipe your entire instrument down with a soft, clean cotton flannel cloth or a lint-free soft cloth. Pay special attention to areas that rosin has built up because rosin can bond to the varnish creating a gray-black compound if left long enough on the instrument. If using violin polish, don’t apply polish to the bridge or the play area of the strings. PolishCaring for Stringed Instrumentsshould also be completely removed by the end of the process. Do not use any liquids other than polish designed for your instrument because it can harm the finish of your violin. If a more intensive cleaning is necessary, take it to a professional luthier so that a thorough job can be done.

Playing music is one of the biggest joys of my life and it is only possible as long as I take the time to care for my violin. Stringed instruments are costly to purchase in the first place, but repairs from negligence can cause that price to skyrocket. It is better to care for your instrument than having to fix problems that could have been easily avoided. Remember, violins can bring joy to several generations of players if properly maintained.

The Many Reasons to Own an Evaporative Cooler

For those of you that live in hot and dry climates with low humidity levels then you can absolutely benefit from an evaporative cooler, also known as a swamp cooler. Instead of spending a ton of money on an air conditioning system, evaporative coolers are a profitable alternative when it comes to being economical and energy efficient.

Living in humidity is extremely uncomfortable and can even lead to death. The high temperatures are dangerous for the human body and it’s imperative to keep the humidity levels within your home at a safe range. Evaporative coolers work to cool the air surrounding you without using harmful coolants or chemicals. This guide helps explain the benefits using an evaporative cooler that will enable you to control these types of humidity levels.

What is Humidity?

Humidity is the water in the air around you. It is a gaseous state that is invisible to the human eye called water vapor. It is expressed as a maximum percentage that the air temperature can hold at, and it is measured in relative or absolute terms. Humidity also determines the probability of dew, fog, and precipitation.

The Dangers of Humidity

Humidity makes our bodies feel hotter, which makes it difficult for us to easily cool down because we lose water and chemicals that our body needs. Our body tries to adapt to the changes in temperature to keep cool by sweating, changing blood circulation, and increasing respiration.

Without the proper techniques to cool down, we can suffer from:

  • Heat cramps

    • Heat can cause muscles to cramp.

  • Heat exhaustion

    • We lose fluids and salt within our bodies when we sweat a lot.

  • Fainting

    • Blood pressure can drop tremendously in the heat, which can lead to fainting.

  • Heatstrokes

    • Our body temperatures can rise to a dangerous level that cause us to suffer from a heatstroke.

Humidity Levels Best for Evaporative Coolers

Evaporative Coolers work best and are more effective in areas with low humidity and hot temperatures. They should operate in humidity levels below 50%, which are usually found in southwestern US states where the air is hot and dry.

How do Evaporative Coolers Work?

Evaporative_Cooler

The main purpose of an evaporative cooler is to lower indoor temperatures by combining cooling properties of evaporating water with an air moving system. With open windows, airflow is controlled to allow the unit to push warm air outside, add moisture, and remove dust and allergens. It’s a great alternative to the traditional air conditioners, but is more effective and energy efficient.

The pump circulates water onto a cooling pad that absorbs the water and then the fan draws air from an outside unit through the moistened pad. As it passes through the pad, the air is cooled by evaporation, so you must make sure that the cooling pads are completely wet at all times during operation. Through evaporation, the added moisture keeps your skin from drying out and prevents any type of dangers from the heat. These units circulate the air from outside into your home helping to make the air fresh and clean.

Benefits of Evaporative Coolers:

Benefits_of_Evaporative_Coolers

Which Size Will Suit Me and My Home?

To determine the correct size of an evaporative cooler for your home, you need the cubic feet per minute (CFM). CFM gives the number of cubic feet of air an evaporative cooler can move in just one minute. The first step is to determine the cubic feet of space needed to be cooled, and then divide that number by two.

Formula: Square Feet * Ceiling Height = Cubic Feet

Cubic Feet / 2 = CFM

Example:

If you have a 1,600 sq. ft. room to cool and an 7 ft. ceiling, you should multiply them together, and then divide by two as such:

1600 * 7 = 11,200

11,200 / 2 = 5,600 CFM

You need a evaporative cooler rated at 5,600 CFM or higher.

Maintenance

Evaporative coolers require little maintenance with basic and proper cleanings. The pumps and pads should be cleaned and replaced at least once every 2-3 weeks in order to avoid mold and dirt buildup. This may depend on how long the cooler is operating. However, you will save yourself a ton of money by proper maintenance to increase the longevity of your unit. They are highly energy efficient and operate for way less money than a traditional air conditioner.