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MopMan
04-10-2018, 06:10 AM
After only one dry season of soundhole humidifiers, I really wish I could just leave my ukes out on stands around the house. So I recently began researching home humidifiers. It seems that if you live in a normal-sized house, you can get a home humidification system installed for less than $1000.

Has anyone gone down this route? What brand and type of system did you get? Is the system sufficient to keep your home at 40% relative humidity year round? Did you run into any problems/drawbacks?

It looks like this could be the ultimate solution for keeping my instruments in good shape and not have to keep them locked away in their cases all the time. Am I dreaming, or could this work?

ukuleletodd
04-10-2018, 06:31 AM
YES! We've had it in 2 of our 3 homes. Worth every penny. We paid $400 back in 2010 in a townhome. We paid $550 this year in a 2000 sqft home. Both times they installed. Aprilaire is the main brand. I think our new one is a Holmes. Humidity on both levels stays between 35-45%. Without it, my elementary music classroom is regularly at 10-20% humidity through the winter.

BenderBR
04-10-2018, 10:48 AM
The only issue is that you need forced air heating ductwork to add the whole house humidifier to.
If you have a boiler(piping not ductwork) you can’t add that type of humidifier.

spookelele
04-10-2018, 10:51 AM
Also.. you have to keep the filter clean/replaced, and make sure that you dont get calcium buildup on the bit the water comes out, or where it drops into the tray that drips on to the filter.

mikelz777
04-10-2018, 11:18 AM
FYI, if outdoor temps drop below 20F, you should not keep the house humidity at 40%. For every 10F drop in temp, the house humidity should drop by 5%. So, for example, if the outdoor temps are 0F then the indoor humidity should be no higher than 30%. At 10F, no higher than 35%. At -10F, no higher than 25% and so on.

MopMan
04-10-2018, 12:39 PM
FYI, if outdoor temps drop below 20F, you should not keep the house humidity at 40%. For every 10F drop in temp, the house humidity should drop by 5%. So, for example, if the outdoor temps are 0F then the indoor humidity should be no higher than 30%. At 10F, no higher than 35%. At -10F, no higher than 25% and so on.

What is the reasoning behind this?

mikelz777
04-10-2018, 01:07 PM
High humidity indoors with cold temps outdoors can possibly lead to condensation/freezing within interior walls and attic spaces which in turn could lead to moisture, mold/mildew, rot etc. I'm getting the information from a "Fixit" column which appeared in the Mpls. Star Tribune. I know when I tried to keep the humidity at 40% in the dead of a Minnesota winter I was getting moisture on my windows which is not a good thing.

twokatmew
04-10-2018, 01:38 PM
I have a whole house humidifier. When there's condensation along the bottom of the inside window panes, humidity is too high, so I turn it down. This happens as outside temps fluctuate. I still have to humidify my instruments in hard cases. A whole house system is great, but not a complete solution for wood instruments.

Heavy2600
04-11-2018, 12:22 AM
Mikelz777 is correct. 40% was too high in my home with temps in the 20's, and condensation began to form on the windows. The aprilaire dial (my unit is older and not digital) it has a guide for humidity setting based on outdoor temperature. I don't remember the exact settings, but below freezing it suggested humidity settings below my desired 40%. I played with it until I stopped getting condensation (around 36-38%).

The good news is they actually work, I was down to 30% humidity and started using the whole house humidifier to get back up to around 36-38%. I placed hygrometers all over the house and one on top of a vent (farthest from air handler) and the humidity coming out of the vent was 40%+. It did take a few days to humidify the house back to a stable level, but keep in mind everything absorbs moisture. Even wood furniture absorbs moisture and expands/contracts. If your house humidity is in the 20% range, I'd suggest you use the whole house humidifier. The Aprilaire units are about $250-300. If you are a DIYer you can easily install yourself. If not, pay a couple hundred extra for the install.

The big question is what kind of heating do you have? You need forced air with an air handler to use the Aprilaire drip type humidifier. Another question is how well your house is sealed/airtight. Too drafty and your humidifier won't work, too airtight and you can get mold as Mikelz777 pointed out. In Alaska, modern houses are so well insulated and airtight that they have humidity releases upstairs typically at the apex of the house. I see you are in PA, I am in VA for reference. I have only solid wood ukes and leave them out year round.

Another item of note is your instruments origins. I've read that Hawaiian built ukes are made of wood cured and built in higher humidity, so they may shrink a great deal if kept at lower humidity levels. Something from say China or built in the Eastern US may fare better at your humidity ranges. As I get older, I realize I want to buy and use stuff, not preserve it forever. I am not a collector. An ukulele that has to be carefully wiped down and packed with a humidity pack into an indestructible case will not see much use by me. I like to have them out and ready to play on each level of my house. I have two Outdoor Ukuleles in the kid zones just so I have something to play when in that room. Yesterday I heard one being banged on the kitchen floor like Thor's hammer. One year old cried as I took it away, so I said screw it and gave it back. I think an ukulele is built to resonate, one way or another.

sunshiNee
04-11-2018, 12:59 AM
Yes this is my experience as well.... didn't realize I had to turn it down until the second winter. I've always kept it at around 40.... But turn it down in the winter, and it has decreased condensation around the windows.

For me I have a hygrometer in my living area where my Ukes are and I run a standalone humidifier when I need to bump it to ~40. I personally do not keep my Uke in cases since I play everyday, and I only have two Ukuleles. Maybe if I had a fleet of high end Ukuleles I would go to more extreme measures to protect them.


I have a whole house humidifier. When there's condensation along the bottom of the inside window panes, humidity is too high, so I turn it down. This happens as outside temps fluctuate. I still have to humidify my instruments in hard cases. A whole house system is great, but not a complete solution for wood instruments.

MopMan
04-13-2018, 09:06 AM
Thanks for sharing your experiences and providing feedback. It sounds to me like this could work as long as there are not any extended cold periods below ~20 degrees fahrenheit, when supplementary humidification methods may become necessary.

Pukulele Pete
04-14-2018, 01:33 AM
I was warned against running moisture through the duct work , you can get mold and rust in your ductwork and its expensive to replace.
This warning was from a HVAC guy . YMMV
He said to use room humidifiers.

BenderBR
04-14-2018, 04:16 PM
I was warned against running moisture through the duct work , you can get mold and rust in your ductwork and its expensive to replace.
This warning was from a HVAC guy . YMMV
He said to use room humidifiers.

As a licensed HVAC guy myself, I have never heard of such a thing. I have installed/replaced, and serviced many whole house humidifiers, and have never seen mold or rust inside anyone’s ductwork from using them. I have seen some very nasty old filters that hadn’t been changed in years/decades? Lol

Some(mainly older models) use standing water with a filter that spins in it to keep saturated. These can definitely grow bacteria if the water isn’t changed frequently. What you want is the design that uses a solenoid valve that drips water across a filter panel and drains out immediately.

I don’t really know why that guy would have said that, but if your interested in a whole house humidifier(and I highly recommend one if you have forced air) I would find another HVAC guy.

MopMan
04-15-2018, 06:17 AM
Thanks BenderBR for offering your professional opinion. They also make "misting" systems which according to some sources on the Internet are supposed to be the best and most controllable. Have you ever worked with those?

AlohaKine
04-15-2018, 01:14 PM
From what I've read online Pennsylvania has good humidity levels year round... Of course some levels are a littler lower/higher for a Uke, but not that far off...

Have you been checking the year round humidity levels where you live?

I guess if you like to keep the windows open in the winter, well, that's another story... LOL

ukeinfused
04-15-2018, 09:24 PM
FYI, if outdoor temps drop below 20F, you should not keep the house humidity at 40%. For every 10F drop in temp, the house humidity should drop by 5%. So, for example, if the outdoor temps are 0F then the indoor humidity should be no higher than 30%. At 10F, no higher than 35%. At -10F, no higher than 25% and so on.

Glad for this discussion. I live not far from Mikelz in MN.
I went to a room humidifier because I tired of dealing with the soundhole units (too many ukes, LOL!).
It's almost impossible to keep it at 40 during colder temps here in MN, but I run I it 24/7. I have noticed the water on the windows, and even pooling onto the sill - can't be good for old wooden windows!
Does both these factors mean I need to switch back tho the soundhole units...?

This is my street and my dancing teen neighbor, in the BLIZZARD yesterday 4/14.
108194

mikelz777
04-16-2018, 01:32 AM
Cool picture Tracie, she looks like an ice princess. You might say she was dancing up a storm! ;)

This is the indoor humidity article I was talking about:
http://www.startribune.com/fixit-what-is-the-ideal-winter-indoor-humidity-level/11468916/

twokatmew
04-18-2018, 03:31 AM
Glad for this discussion. I live not far from Mikelz in MN.
I went to a room humidifier because I tired of dealing with the soundhole units (too many ukes, LOL!).
It's almost impossible to keep it at 40 during colder temps here in MN, but I run I it 24/7. I have noticed the water on the windows, and even pooling onto the sill - can't be good for old wooden windows!
Does both these factors mean I need to switch back tho the soundhole units...?

This is my street and my dancing teen neighbor, in the BLIZZARD yesterday 4/14.
108194

Sweating windows and/or pooling water on window sills are bad for your windows and home. Turn the humidifier down to a level where you don't get this. When the room humidity is no longer sufficient for your instruments, put your ukes in cases. I no longer use soundhole units. I use Boveda 49% two-way humidification packs.

ukeinfused
04-21-2018, 08:46 AM
Sweating windows and/or pooling water on window sills are bad for your windows and home. Turn the humidifier down to a level where you don't get this. When the room humidity is no longer sufficient for your instruments, put your ukes in cases. I no longer use soundhole units. I use Boveda 49% two-way humidification packs.

Thx, twocat and Mikel.
Twocat, how do you use those paks for your ukes? Just looked them up on Amazon: They already have water in them, and are disposable (ugh) rather than rechargeable?

Ukulele Eddie
04-21-2018, 01:01 PM
This is my street and my dancing teen neighbor, in the BLIZZARD yesterday 4/14.
108194

Don't think of it as April 14th, think of it as the 105th of January. ;-)

melensdad
04-22-2018, 05:26 AM
Sweating windows and/or pooling water on window sills are bad for your windows and home. Turn the humidifier down to a level where you don't get this. When the room humidity is no longer sufficient for your instruments, put your ukes in cases. I no longer use soundhole units. I use Boveda 49% two-way humidification packs.

The Boveda packs are easy and they work. One will last, inside a hard case, for the whole heating season where I live. They are also sold by D'Addario. Same product, different package. I keep them in the guitar, violin, and uke cases during the winter months when the house gets dry.

twokatmew
04-22-2018, 08:16 AM
The Boveda packs are easy and they work. One will last, inside a hard case, for the whole heating season where I live. They are also sold by D'Addario. Same product, different package. I keep them in the guitar, violin, and uke cases during the winter months when the house gets dry.

Yep! And you can tell when they need to be replaced, because the gel inside gets hard. :)