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Steamers for wood stove

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Nokoni, Nov 28, 2005.

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  1. Nokoni

    Nokoni New Member

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    I want to use a steamer on my wood stove to put moisture into the air. Can I use any cast iron container? Does it have to be enameled? I see several for sale but I want to find a cheaper one that I like more. But, I don't want to melt something to my new wood stove. Can anyone help with this? Thanks so much!

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  2. ChrisN

    ChrisN Feeling the Heat

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    Hi Nokoni, I use a steamer on my stove and find it does make a difference by increasing the rel. humidity in the house and making life a bit more comfortable. I recommend you look for an enamel finish as I suspect it helps prevent rusting on your stove top.
  3. CrazyAboutOrchids

    CrazyAboutOrchids New Member

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    I was going to go that route, can with my insert since it extends from the fireplace, but instead opted for a Bemis whole house humidifier. It's this one: http://www.abtelectronics.com/scripts/site/site_product.php3?id=16850&source=shopping . It's nothing elaborate, in fact extremely basic, gets horribly noisy on high, but I only run it on low anyway since it is in my family room.

    By going this option, I am not a slave to the steamer. This holds 6 gallons of water, doesn't use a whole lot of power, I can easily control the humidity level having it set at 50%. Even in the winter, when I am burning all the time, I am only filling this about every 2 days where with a steamer, it would require much more attention. Keeps the humidity level comfortable in the house even when the fireplace is not run.

    Just another option to consider.
  4. ChrisN

    ChrisN Feeling the Heat

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    Good point about a low maintenance option. My steamer holds about 2 liters of water and I generally fill it 2x/day. It can get tiresome, but the price is right!
  5. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Hi Sandy. I'm shopping for a humidifier. I usually go for the 2 or 3 gallon steamers, but I am tired of cleaning that rock hard scale and the warmth seems to encourage some really strange looking pink slime growth. One of my several portable humidifiers is a 3 gallon Honeywell that is now so 'funky' looking inside and out that I can hardly look at it. It looks like it was rescued from grampa's barn or something. And it is a bear to clean.

    For these reasons, I've been thinking of trying a 'cool mist humidifier'. I've got a big three stage water filter so I think most of the weird chemicals possibly in my tap water won't get spewed into the air. But I've always been suspicious of the 'cool mist'. Seems like it shouldn't stay suspended in the air like a nice vapor. Maybe I need to do some more research, but let me ask you this.

    If I could find a steaming humidifier that was not so hard to clean and didn't get so incredibly 'funky', I might get another. Have you cleaned yours much? Is it 'funky' and a really big job?
  6. Jfigliuolo

    Jfigliuolo New Member

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    MMMMMMMMMMMMMM.......... Clams.......................... :)
  7. CrazyAboutOrchids

    CrazyAboutOrchids New Member

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    Hi Mo Heat!

    I have a few humidifiers here, both warm and cool mist. The Bemis console is my favorite. The large size means that you don't have to fill it often. It's in the room with the fireplace, so it does run lots. It's simple, basic. A bucket of water with a filter and a fan and a hygrometer. I don't run it on high, too darn noisy. Even on low it sometimes will need a nudge if the top gets knocked off kilter a bit as it will hum. As far as maintenance, there isn't a whole lot. Once a month I empty it, rinse the filter off and the bucket and roll it back in where it belongs and fill it. About half way through the season, I take the innards of the filter out, flip them upside down and stick it back in the filter frame. Each season, the filter gets replaced. You do have to use the bacteria treatment for the water. I don't think it really grows anything as the water doesn't sit for long, and there is no heat to the unit.

    I do run a warm steam upstairs. It's an Air-o-Swiss model, 2 gallons. It requires filling every day. It requires emptying and cleaning every other week.

    I don't use distilled water in the units, I do have a water softener for my hard as rocks well water so I have to deal with the scaly salt buildup but so long as it doesn't get cooked on, like with the warm mist, it easily rinses off.

    If you are interested in a console like the Bems, do shop around. I believe I paid 89.00 for it at Ace Hardware last year, they didn't even know they sold that model but they did have them in the warehouse. Not sure about this year. Some places do have a hefty price tag on it. I also shopped around for the best price on the filter when I replaced it since there were huge differences in it as well.

    I would recommend it if you are using something fairly constantly. It holds more water so less filling, no heater so less work to clean. My only word of adice is to make sure that if it doesn't run for a day due to added humidity in air, dump the water and rinse it. We recently went through a few warm days with some rain. Mine got emptied and filled with fresh water.
  8. Sundeep Arole

    Sundeep Arole New Member

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    I too have a 2 gallon air-o-swiss model. It can do both warm mist and cool, and it doesn't use a fan at all, but a untrasonic transducer. I think it works well. I fill it up with filtered water through a undersink filter, so it helps with the accumulation a bit. My model has a silver strip in the water chamber which helps control bacteria (or so it claims.)

    I pretty much have to fill it up every day, and it really only humidifies the bedroom. I am going to also get a whole house model as well, but I am still looking for one that doesn't make a huge racket while running. Sandy, I haven't seen the Bemis model, but thanks for the recommendation I'll go check it out.
  9. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    We bought a steamer for the top of the wood stove ....... looks very nice but would never use it as it would be a pain to keep up with. For the last 4 years we have used a Sears Kennmore whole house humidifer that is rated at 13 gallons a day ( on high ) and the fill tank is 3-3.5 gallons , we run it on low and fill it once a day. Keeps the house at 60% and is very quite . We throw the filters away at the end of the winter and store it back in the box. We buy new filters in the fall and set it up again for the next year.
  10. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    My parents use a metal 3 gallon pot they fill up each time they load up the wood. There's a big problem. The pot starts to stink more & more as the water evaporates. I think it's chemicals in the water, being left behind when the water evaporates and then burning. It took a few months for theirs to start to smell, after a few years now it stinks to high hell as the water evaporates and I don't know why they don't get rid of the damn thing or seem to notice. Reminds me, maybe I can get them something like that for Christmas that isn't metal so they can clean it. My parents fill their pot up with 3 gallons of water almost daily, I agree with everyone else a stove steamer is sure going to need to be filled a lot and probably start to stink when it's not full particularly if metal. If you do get one, make sure it's enamaled and cleanable. Or follow everyone else's advice, you'll probably hate the constant feeding and smell and end up getting a humidifier anyway.
  11. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Thanks to everyone for their responses. It helped guide me into a decision.

    I started looking at the ultra-sonic models, but they were either expensive (IMO) for their abilities, or got bad reviews on e-pinions, etc.

    I looked at a bunch of the evaporating console models based on Sandy's recommendation.

    Based on Roospike's good experience and my proclivity to buy from brick and mortar stores, I visited the Sears website. :) They had several Kenmore models that looked interesting. I headed for Sears and bought a 12 gallon per day model after plugging in a couple at the store to check out the sound level of the fans first hand. The people there were nice enough to help me find a plug and leave me alone to my investigation.

    If anybody's interested, I might post a review in a few weeks after it has a few hours on it.
  12. Herb

    Herb New Member

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    Mo,

    Yeah, I'm interested. I just spet a ton of time and money looking for a humidifier. I've got a Kenmore 13 gallon evaporative humidifier in the LR where my insert is, but I hate that thing sooooo much -- it's REALLY noisey, and just built like a POS. It can barely keep the 600 s.f. room at 34%.

    I was going to get a Venta or Air-O-Swiss ultra-sonic for the bedroom (both around $140), because I wanted QUIET. I went to a real store to buy it (Best Vacuum, in Chicago), because I wanted someone who knows their stock, not a big-box store. The guys there talked me out of the ultra-sonic, because of the problems from the hard well water we've got. They said it would be a pain, and expensive, to clean, and they wouldn't guarantee against the white dust. So, I bought the Venta Airwasher LW-44. Check out their website: www.venta-airwasher.com. I figured that, with what I've spent on junky humidifiers over the years, it would be wiser to pay more and get the best.

    It's been about 5 days now, and this thing works pretty well for our 400 s.f. master bedroom. Although its rated to humidify up to 720 s.f., it couldn't handle the room where the stove is. I'm not sure if it's because it's a bigger room, or does the stove dry out the air so much? Overall, it's pretty quiet, but not silent. The humidity level is 45-50%, and it seems pretty easy to clean, and no white dust. I do think, though, that it is overpriced ($439), so would like to explore more options for the living room.
  13. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

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    Damn. I was all set to quip a clever title like "how big's yer steamer?" but then I did a search on steamers and found this great thread. I have two pots on top of my insert. one is an ornate alloy Tpot from Germany and the other is a stainless steel grease sifter from wall-mart. I bought the second one to supplement the first. I fill each at least twice a day. probly only hold a liter of water behind them. Each year my kitchen hardwood floor seperates in the winter and we always figured it was because of dry air. NEver considered getting a humidifier----DUHHH!!! this year it is just showing the beginning of happening and I think that is due to the additional steamer on the stove, and the fact that my wife has been drying all the clotes on racks in our living room(stove room). I will give her an A+ for resourcefullness on that one. It saves us electricity and adds moisture to the air. Now you guys have me thinking about a humidifier.
  14. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

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    As an added note, years ago when I was a road warrior and lived out of a suitcase I had little tricks like that to combat the dry air in hotels. before going to bed, turn the shower water on super hot to steam up the bathroom. soak a towel and hang it in the shower to dry and sometimes wet down another one and put it in the main hotel room. Same concept....in fact I have been careful not to run the bathroom fan in the winter to try to add moisture to the air. This is great.....ANOTHER thing for me to obcess about.
  15. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I've been taking measurements of humidity and such to evaluate my new Kenmore humidifier. I'm absolutely shocked at the drop in humidity when I light up the Winter Warm! It can drop 3 or 4 percentage points (measured with a stand alone digital humidity meter and the one built into the Kenmore) in less than two hours.

    Since placing the Kenmore into service downstairs (in a big room) with the WW, the humidity has risen from its normal 38% to around 43% (and as high as 54% when the stove went cold today for the first time in a week). The humidity upstairs (measured in the kitchen) has risen from its normal 36% (when I drove to Sears) to 44%. I noticed the peak levels climbed the first day by about 2%. They have risen slightly each day since, but seem to have levelled off now around 43 - 44%.

    I may just have to put up with the noise of the Kenmore unless I can find something quieter that can pump 6 gallons of water into the air every 24 hours. The Kenmore is rated at 12 gallons per 24 hours, but I'm only getting about half that. I suppose some of the difference might be attributed to slightly hard water. At any rate, I really don't want the humidity much higher anyway. I can see an ever so slight start of some condensation on one or two windows at the bottom. The only drawback is during heavy firing of the WW in conjunction with the forced air natural gas furnace cranking at the same time. The Kenmore (and my other two humidifiers) can't keep the humidity from dropping then.
  16. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Thats 12 gallons in 24 hours ..........I'm sure that is rated for HIGH that i dont think you are running. So one would think that 6 galons in 24 hours is med setting . What setting are you running it at ? Its like anything that is rated ........ a wood stove that is rated at 55,ooo btu is not going to put out 55,ooo btu on low or even med. The best bet like a lot of things is getting the higher rated unit and run it lower so you dont have to push it to get what you want. ( except A/C units that need to be correct rated per sq ft of a home ) We run our Kenmore unit on low and keep the 1800 sq ft house at 48%-53% . But i'm sure the higher you run stove the less % you are going to get from your kenmore. ALSO , if you sit back and think about it ....... when the Kenmore was rated it was not in "real world" settings like most things AND when rated there was NO woodstove. Also as we know ( most of know ) that heating with say natural gas it adds moisture into the air. Before we bought our new wood stove for our new house the first year we heated with natural gas and the humidity in the home in the winter was around 60% all winter with no humidifier. Bought the new wood stove and the humidity with out the running the humidifier was in the 30%-36% range. We already had the Kenmmore humidifier but didint have it set up the first week. Just my thoughts ........
  17. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Sometimes it's hard to figure out what someone is trying to say on this danged internet. Here, I'm not sure if I'm being baited or taught a life lesson.

    Spike, I wasn't trying to 'dis' the Kenmore if that got your hackles up, and I'm tempted to feel a bit insulted, but will refrain as I suspect you meant no offense. I'm a formally trained systems analyst and while I really didn't gain much intuitive insight regarding comparative analysis conclusions from that program, I did learn how to select metrics and structure such tests, and I always had a knack for drawing accurate intuitive conclusions, even though measurements sometimes provide counter intuitive results. That's why I'm taking and recording the measurements.

    I am testing at each and every (fan) setting level of the humidifier. Several days on high (fan = 4), several days on medium (3), soon to be several days on 'annoying' (2), and finally I'll try it on 'acceptable' (1).

    I'm recording actual Kenmore humidity settings and room humidity levels with a digital humidistat, a wet-bulb/dry-bulb thermometer with relative humidity chart, and two analogy mechanical humidistats. I'm taking temperature readings at multiple locations throughout the house. I'm recording the locations of all measurements for both Kenmore display and humidistats (there have been several locations for both, to tweak things). Having said that, my primary metric on the Kenmore is: 'How many gallons of water does it consume in a 24 hour period'. I chose this metric because it is stated with certainty on the Kenmore product. This should allow apples to apples comparisons with Kenmore's (Sears') claimed performance vs. my measurements, real world skewing not withstanding.

    My house is larger than yours so it will obviously be more difficult to raise the humidity throughout. That is why I have four humidifiers (three currently operating). I certainly understand about higher stove firing levels reducing the humidity more than lower firing levels, but that will have no effect on the 'gallons consumed in a 24 hour period' metric, at least no negative effect. In fact, with the lower relative humidity created by higher firing and the accompanying higher temperature in the Kenmore room, the Kenmore should consume MORE water, not less! Anyway, I considered that in my test.

    After reading the mandatory but marginally helpful Consumer Reports information using their online subscription search feature, I suspect the Kenmore's performance (or lack thereof) may be affected somewhat by my slightly hard water. Although they claim that the evaporative wick designs are less subject to hard water performance degradations that other designs. It probably has some effect, anyway.

    BTW: as I understand it, heating with natural gas will reduce humidity levels, not increase them, unless you are using a non-vented appliance. Your previous measurement was likely either inaccurate (that's one reason I'm using 5 different humidistats) or your experiment was somehow flawed in its design.

    I do agree with you about buying a bigger humidifier appliance and running it at a lower speed. Unfortunately, this is the largest of the newer designed Sears models with the digital controls, which I prefer. At least, it's the largest listed on their web site. Perhaps I should take another trip to Sears. I almost remember them having a 16-gallon model although I wasn't interested in that large of a unit at the time. Who would think I'd need to put more than 12-gallons of water into the air (I figured they fudged, but only allowed for about a 25% inaccuracy of their claims, not 50%). If the 12-gallon model consumes 6-gallons per day (on high), the 16-gallon model should consume around 8-gallons per day (on high). But it would need to possess a larger fan for this to be true. That's a significant increase and might be worth it if they'll let me trade this one in. And of course, I'd measure things in a real world environment just to prove it to myself. :)
  18. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    No "hackles up" Mo , Just my thoughts . I do have the Kenmore but take no defence to it as I'm sure with all things work different for all people for different reasions . There again , and you say we have different house sizes and also ........... my home is 100+ years old and as well as we think we might have it buttoned up we could also be drafting more out side air into our house , if this is the case I'm sure any outside air that does come in has the higher humidity as does add to the house humidity. I'm glade to see you running the test and welcome your information . Also when we did heat with natural gas the heater we had "was" vented and did add humidity. All i have to go by on my information is a few wall gages that are by no means top quality or top of the line . Just my input , carry on .
  19. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    My house is 15 years old and wrapped with Tyvek (I believe). It still leaks around the levers of the many vertically oriented and articulated windows, a few sliding glass doors, and who knows what else. But compared to other homes I've lived in, it seems pretty tight (and fairly well insulated).
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