Chlorine and humidifier filter nasties

jseyfert3

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So, this may be completed anecdotal, but I don't think so.

A few years back I picked up a standard filter type humidifier from craigslist that came with two new unused filters. I used it an entire winter with those two filters, extending the life by soaking in a bucket of water and muriatic acid to dissolve the hard water build-up on the filter that usually ends their life. Had no issues with things growing on the filters. We were cycling water through at several gallons a day. I threw out the second filter at the end of winter.

Next year, I went to go get new filters. The ones in store all had this "Chlora-Clear" feature. Well, they claimed it was a feature, I thought it was unneeded marketing. It said something about "you filter chlorine from your drinking water, now we filter it from the air you breath." Well, no, I don't filter my tap water, and you won't be breathing hardly any chlorine from a humidifier, but whatever.

Anyhow, remember how I went months with the previous filters just fine? After just a week or two with the new filter, it had mold growing all over it!!! Apparently, neutralizing the chlorine worked, and by doing so, stuff started growing! I looked online and tried to order an off-brand filter that wouldn't neutralize the chlorine, but unfortunately the listing was out of date and the new filter had the same "Chlora-Clear" unfeature. In case it wasn't that and was just a fluke, I cleaned out the humidifier, put in the new filter, and promptly had stuff growing in a week or two again!

I gave up using the humidifier that winter, as we were getting ready to move and I didn't have time to mess with it. The new place had some single pane windows, so adding extra humidity was a no-go. I suffered through most of a winter with very low humidity.

We just settled into a new house with good insulation and much better windows. The humidity has been ~33%, not great, but could be worse. Yesterday we picked up a puppy, and he appears to perhaps have kennel cough. I read that having humidity helps sooth their throats and speed up recovery. As an aside, my bloody noses indicate I need the humidity too. So I dug through our stuff and got the humidifier out. I got another filter, unfortunately with the same "Chlora-Clear". This time, I figured I had to do something. So I added a splash of bleach to the water with the intention of completely neutralizing the chlorine neutralizer! I plan to test the water later, and keep adding small amounts of bleach until the neutralizer is neutralized and it maintains the FC residual from the tap water, since my previous experience was showing that that FC residual was doing something in keeping nasties from growing on the filter.

Anyhow, I figured I'd share an interesting, non-pool chlorine topic, especially on a forum that knows and understands the benefits of chlorine! I'm curious to see how this experiment works out.

In any case, it's a temporary (ish) solution, the long term plan is to add in an HVAC humidifier so we can easily humidify the entire house to an appropriate level without having fill water all the time. Also since an HVAC humidifier is fed by air filtered by a MERV 16 filter there should be much less potential for nasties to grow in the first place. Which reminds me I need to order a new HVAC filter. Those things are $60 each...
 

jseyfert3

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Okay, I think my "splash" of bleach was a little too much. It started smelling of chlorine. I went to do an FAS-DPD test and the pink kept fading to nothing after three scoops. I said to myself "this is way too much FC" and dumped the water reservoir and refilled it. I should actually probably rinse the filter out. My guess is if I want to maintain a small FC residual I will need to dilute a bit of bleach in a gallon of water first, not add a splash directly to the humidifier.
 

YippeeSkippy

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You can also just simmer a pot of open water on the stove or in the fireplace to gain some humidity. Adding a few whole cloves or a stick of cinnamon makes things smell really nice.

Maddie :flower:
 
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jseyfert3

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We have an electric stove and no fireplace. For reference the previous place we ran this at we would go through up to 6 gallons of water a day in 1400 square feet to maintain some sort of reasonable humidity levels during cold spells. It would cost a lot to boil that much water on an electric stove!

My aunt and uncle have a wood burning kitchen stove from the early 1900s in their kitchen/dining room that they use to heat most of the house in the day and also have pots of water on boil perpetually for humidity.
 

jseyfert3

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I mean, it would work, but it would use the same amount of power as the stove. Same as a steam humidifier like a Vicks. It just takes a ton of energy to evaporate water. That's why you cover a pool when not in use, cause the evaporating water steals a ton of energy from the pool. ;)

Technically speaking, it requires the same amount of energy to evaporate water in my filter based humidifier as it would on the stove. The difference is the energy to evaporate water in my humidifier comes from the room (it cools the air) which is then heated by my furnace. But since the furnace is a 97% efficient natural gas model, and natural gas is so much cheaper than electric, that makes it something like 1/6th the cost for a given amount of water vapor added to the air vs boiling water on the stove/crock pot/steam humidifier.
 

YippeeSkippy

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I've never used a humidifier, always reading about the mold and bacteria growth problems. I am a lo-tech person so have used the stove many a winter. <shrug> Electricity? Feh. Got a gas stove ;)

Maddie :flower:
 

jseyfert3

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Just running a gas stove will increase the humidity, as burning it releases water vapor. This is why a cold pan on a gas stove gets condensation on the outside of it until it warms up, it's water coming out of the flame. Natural gas is mostly CH4. So you have 2O2 + CH4 = 2H2O + CO2

So for every molecule of natural gas you burn, you get two molecules of water. Of course you also use up two molecules of oxygen and release one molecule of CO2. This, along with small amounts of CO that are produced, is why they say not to use stoves for comfort heating.

Propane is C3H8, so it too releases water when burned, but not as much as natural gas.

This is probably getting a lot more technical that you wanted! :LOL:

Also I had read a study somewhere that said that while there was stuff growing in/on the filter for a humidifier, it was not released to the air when used. That may change if you have an excessive amount of stuff growing though. Ultrasonic or impeller humidifiers on the other hand, definitely released bad stuff into the air since both types just break up water into tiny drops, along with whatever else is in it.

As I said though, before the "Chlora-Clear" was added to the filters, I don't recall seeing anything growing. Certainly not in the week or two after I used the "Chlora-Clear" filter. I think the tap water FC levels kept stuff at bay.
 

wogster

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Apr 30, 2018
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Very interesting! Living in Florida we have DE-humidifiers!

Now start a thread about the new puppy!!! LOL
Here in southern Ontario, Canada; We use humidifiers in the winter, and dehumidifiers (or A/C) in the summer....

One note on the humidity, you don't actually need to boil water, you just need to encourage evaporation. In places with the old upright cast iron radiators, it's not uncommon to use a pan of water on top, to increase humidity, since the boiler water is only about 95C at the most, the water on top will likely never surpass about 85C, but will evaporate fairly quickly. Those rads in a kitchen or mud room work really well at drying out mittens, hats and snow suits. Just put them on top, and give them about 30 minutes, nice and dry.....
 

jseyfert3

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Very interesting! Living in Florida we have DE-humidifiers!
We have those too. Summer we use AC and dehumidifiers (mainly in basements). Winter we use humidifiers. Well you don't have too, but then you get dry skin and are prone to bloody noses. No fun. With my cheap humidity gauge I've seen the relative humidity dip below 15%. That is DRY air, and NOT FUN to breathe!

Now start a thread about the new puppy!!! LOL
Haha I'll have to do that. He's so cute. He's sleeping next to me on my recliner right now.

I dont understand, people want to add humidity to the air? :crazy:
:p

One note on the humidity, you don't actually need to boil water, you just need to encourage evaporation. In places with the old upright cast iron radiators, it's not uncommon to use a pan of water on top, to increase humidity, since the boiler water is only about 95C at the most, the water on top will likely never surpass about 85C, but will evaporate fairly quickly. Those rads in a kitchen or mud room work really well at drying out mittens, hats and snow suits. Just put them on top, and give them about 30 minutes, nice and dry.....
That's true. A filter (sometimes called wick) humidifier does just this. Getting technical, the enthalpy of vaporization of the water is the same (for most practical purposes) between water at room temp and water that's at boiling temp. In other words, you use basically the same amount of energy to evaporate the water either way, though the source of that energy varies though. Comes from the boiler in the case of your pans, or it cools the room air in the case of my filter humidifier. Sorry, can't help but to get technical. Guess that's why I went into engineering. ?

Good news is our current house is way better sealed then our old apartment or rental houses were. After running all day in the family room, the humidity there was about 55%. Took it up to the bedroom with us and we woke up to a muggy 65% humidity (the humidistat in the humidifier unfortunately broke a while ago). Main house thermostat on the other end of the house is reading 39%, up from 33% 23 hours ago. I set the furnace to "circulate" so it runs the fan some extra amount every hour regardless of how much the furnace ran. My goal is to get the house up to 45-50% and maintain it there.
 

jseyfert3

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It's 81% relative humidity outside right now here, so ha! We have more relative humidity than Florida! :ROFLMAO:

...but it's 34 °F, so the absolute humidity is way lower! Using a calculator, the absolute humidity here is 3.64 g of water per kg of air, vs almost 16 g/kg for your Florida air. Heating a chunk of my outside air to 67 °F would result in a relative humidity of 25%. So that would be the base humidity of our house with no cooking/showers/humidifiers at our current outside temps. And the colder it gets outside, the lower the humidity when you heat the air inside. -10 °F (which we've seen this winter) at 100% RH is only 7% RH when you heat it to 67 °F!

Actually what really sucks is summer time when it's 90-100 °F outside, usually at 70%+ RH, and a thunderstorm rolls through, cooling it slightly for a bit but now it's almost 100% relative humidity and 90 °F+. And when it rains, the mosquitoes come out in force for the next few weeks. Just in time for another big rain!

Midwest life is fun...
 

JoyfulNoise

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What’s humidity ?‍♂?‍♂?‍♂ ? Is that like some kind of thing you put cigars in ....

Try living here in June .... 20% relative humidity, if you’re lucky.....