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Humidifiers: Selection and Cleaning

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PHRAG

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Hey all. I just pulled my humidifier out of the greenhouse because the fan housing was looking dirty. When I took it apart to clean it, I was shocked to find black mold growing EVERYWHERE! Even on the wiring running to the fan. I tried not to breath too deeply while I threw it in a trash bag. Calcium deposits I can handle, mold I am not going to mess with. It was so invasive there would be no way to clean it all out and make sure it didn't come back.

Now, I need a new humidifier. The old one was evaporative. It had a wire mesh screen inside that water poured over while a fan blew humidified air out into the greenhouse. It had a huge tank, but I think it ran entirely too much. So I am looking for something smaller that I can turn off and on as the humidity needs a boost.

Any suggestions? Cool mist? Warm mist? Any tips on additives to the water to keep mold from growing? A drop of bleach? Help!
 

adiaphane

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John, this may seem like a silly question, but it never hurts to ask: did you ever clean the system after addding more water to the reservoir tank? Every other month or so, I mix in some white vinegar into my humidifier to clean it, and to keep the slime (and mold) at bay. Maybe this will help in your next humidifier should you get another evaporative one.
 

Heather

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I wish I could get to the fan to clean mine! I don't seem to be able to break through the housing....I have a Holmes 10 gallon, model # 3655 and it is okay but if the filters dry out (if you run out of water and don't refill promptly) they are toast and you have to replace them. Which really bothers me.

Other than that, I like it a lot. :rolleyes:
 
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PHRAG

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adiaphane said:
John, this may seem like a silly question, but it never hurts to ask: did you ever clean the system after addding more water to the reservoir tank? Every other month or so, I mix in some white vinegar into my humidifier to clean it, and to keep the slime (and mold) at bay. Maybe this will help in your next humidifier should you get another evaporative one.
Tien, no such thing as a silly question. I cleaned the unit twice in the past three months, both times to remove deposits that crystalized on the filter and in the reservoir. There was also the occasional slimy mold on the wet parts of the reservoir. I used mostly distilled water to prevent fast buildup of the stuff.

But I have not seen anything like this. I thought the fan was just dusty. But when I pulled off the cover to the fan, black mold was everywhere. It definitely started in the fan unit where the humidified air passed through. I think that is the problem, the unit was evaporative so it needed the fan to pull the air out, and that environment was just too attractive to the mold.

I know that with steam units, an element heats the water to produce steam. Is this a bad idea to have in a greenhouse? I will not be buying another evaporative humidifier or one with filters of any kind. They simply aren't worth the hassle. I don't like humidity trays because of the standing water. I already had an outbreak of gnats and I don't want that again.
 

Jon in SW Ohio

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I despise those types of humidifiers. I could never get them to adequately raise humidity, and they always needed cleaning. I wouldn't be too concerned about your contact with the mold, unless you're hypersensitive as that quantity over a short duration isn't going to cause anything but a cough or a sneeze. One of the first things we learn in "mold school" (AMRT) is that mold needs darkness, wetness, stagnant air, and an organic food source. The spores are already everywhere, give it conditions and it will be there in short time. Makes me wonder how good of air flow you were getting through that humidifier if black mold was able to grow, as it is one of the rarer ones since it requires constant moisture for at least a month to start growing and very stagnant air.

I would recommend a cool mist (Ultrasonic) humidifier. If you don't clean them, you will get reddish slime growing on the bottom part that the tank fits into, but they're apparently just harmless bacterial colonies and easy to remove with hot water. Keep the metal disc clean, as that is what makes the fog, and if it gets covered in slime it makes much less fog. Using tap water will reduce the lifespan of the humidifier, but when I was using one it still lasted over a year or two with tap water and was a run of the mill Vick's one.

Jon
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Vapor genie
 
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PHRAG

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Thanks for the info about the mold. I wasn't too concerned about dying from it, but the thought did cross my mind. I have watched one too many investigative reports on t.v. :)

I had pretty good luck with that humidifier because I am growing in a small space (5'x5'x6.5') I can get pretty good humidity because of the small area.

Is a cool mist humidifier unit the same as the small ultrasonic humidifier? I understand how a warm mist humidifier works (heating element in water produces steam) but how does a cool mist humidifier work? Not the ultrasonic kind, but the regular freestanding unit.
 

littlefrog

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I like my 'Jaybird' humidifier. Which is in my basement plant room. It is some magic centrifugal thing, but it works great. It works off a float valve, and I clean it out when i think about it (or I stop seeing huge clouds of fog). That basically means emptying out and washing the basin and cleaning a small mesh filter.

I don't even know if Jaybird exists anymore, but they make a wicked nice humidifier. I need one (or two) for my greenhouse.
 

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