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Old 01-25-2006, 07:39 PM
Matt Matt is offline
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Optimum Interior Humidity?

Hello folks ,

New guy here. Hope you don't mind if I get off topic from the dirty laundry that is being aired in the thread next door. (And no, I'm not trying to make light of the situation Mrs. Redbull. IF someone had 15k of mine I would be VERY upset. Mrs. Crockett, IF I were a builder and someone falsely accused me of poor business ethics I would be VERY upset.

Never posted on a forum before so please forgive any breaches of etiquette, stepping on toes, overall rudeness, ignorance, and especially any of the seven deadly sins. (Figured I'd cover all my bases if I'm asking for forgiveness)

Been lurking for a while, reading archives and current posts. Been entertained and learned a lot too. Thanks to Greg and everyone else who make this a great forum. Quite a cast of characters....

I would like to hear everyone's thoughts on optimum interior humidity levels in homes in general and (of course) log homes in specific.
Don't think its been discussed in great detail before. Forgive me if it has and please point me in the right direction.

Judging from past discussions on various topics I am sure there is a wide range of answers, none of which is "THE right one."

What are your thoughts in general?

Obviously personal preference comes into play to some degree but what is healthy for the house? (logs, furniture, floors, etc)

What is healthy for the houses' inhabitants? (people, dogs, cats, fleas etc.)

Should special consideration be given to "new construction?"


BACKGROUND:
My wife and I "unofficially" moved into our log home (or as I think Alan would say, milled timber house) last week.

I'm sure many purists will feel sorry for me but here is what we have: Some may not even call it a log home but that's what it says on the owner's manuel.
(By the way, we love our house)

I also love hand-hewn logs, brick, stone, stucco, ICF, curious about straw, etc. You get my point

It is a puny 8' X 6' log. And horrors of horrors, it is yellow pine. Kiln Dried.

Yes, I know that does not say anything about the logs' MC specifically.

Very simple design (Cape). No Heavy Heavy Timber and lots of dry wall on partition walls and some ceilings.

Let's just say for arguments sake the logs are 19%MC. They will dry a little more but have a good running start towards some sort of equilibrium MC.

House is heated by forced air heat pump. Wanted geothermal, but it wasn't in the budget. We also rely heavily on a soap stone woodstove on the main level for heat as well.

I have a humidifier on the HVAC system but have not used it yet.

Also have a kettle of H2O on the woodstove, milk in the cow, beer in the frig, and bourbon in the pantry. Good idea? or Bad idea? (The H2O)

Excessive moisture is obviously bad. I don't like desert air either.

One concern of mine was that if the house is too dry I might have excessive checking in my logs as they adapt to the environment throughout the next couple of heat/cool cycles.

Can a humidifier or kettle of steaming water help alleviate this?

Any way, that was a little long winded but wanted to somewhat define the situation.

If you have not tuned out yet what are your thoughts?

I'm all ears]

Please don't limit your replies to my specific scenario either

By the way I live in Southwest VA. 4 relatively mild but distinct seasons.

Thanks in Advance
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  #2  
Old 01-26-2006, 07:49 AM
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Stephanie Stephanie is offline
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Well, the logs are going to check, but yes, they'll check more when dry. I THINK the big deal with the humidity is that the outside and inside are no the same and so the logs will not be the same height on the outer and inner ends. SO, by that argument, I guess you should have the humidity inside be the same as it is outside, so this will fluctuate. What do you think?

Glad to meet you, neighbor! You didn't get an Old Virginia! They should be pretty close to you. Of course, I don't know all the folk out that way, just that one.
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Old 01-26-2006, 08:52 AM
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Good morning Matt!! Don't have an answer for you, but I wanted to say hello and welcome! Glad to see the great state of VA has one more LHOTI member. (With all of the folks here from WV and VA, we may have to do a VA/WV LHOTI get together at some point )

It will be interesting to see what the responses from the pros are on this question, I had never given it much thought.
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Old 01-26-2006, 09:26 AM
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Matt,

What ever it is will be fine. If its too dy for you to be comfortable in winter, use a humidifyer, if its to moist in summer do the opposite. The log structure will be okay either way or left with nothing.
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  #5  
Old 01-26-2006, 12:04 PM
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Thanks for the Welcome VA ladies,

Stephanie, Old VA is a little further down than me. I'm in a little tiny place called Floyd in the Blue Ridge Mountains. (The Blue Ridge Parkway runs through Floyd) One stop light, unless they are doing bridge work. But that's the way I like it. My wife and I moved down here from Fairfax. I like people, but there can be too much of a good thing.

Susan, I realize this is kind of an odd-ball question (I will probably have more) but I have read a little about Relative Humidity levels in homes but most of the emphasis was on window condensation and mold proplems. I too was curious to see what the log home "pros" thought. Heck, the amateurs too. EDIT: Forgot to answer your question, sorry, about indoor/outdoor balance. Sounds like a valid theory but the outdoor humidity fluctuates so much I don't think it would work in practice

Thanks for the note Bob, Glad to hear its not a huge consideration but I'm still curious about what people think about the subject...

Last edited by Matt; 01-26-2006 at 12:59 PM..
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Old 01-26-2006, 12:32 PM
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Indoor relative humidities

Hi Matt,

My knowledge is limited to northern climates and not of much use to you, but here's a page of links to some generic indoor air quality sites:

http://www.uaf.edu/coop-ext/faculty/...urces.html#iaq.

FWIW, we are easily able to keep our log home between 30% and 60% at 65F in our dry cold winters.

BTW, if you don't mind, what kind of soapstone woodstove do you have? We currently have a 1979 VC Resolute and are considering a Hearthstone soapstone woodstove (we currently live in a 28'x28' full-scribe log home built over an ICF basement-shop of the same size while we build our average sized log home, also over an ICF basement. The Hearthstone would be for the house).
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Old 01-26-2006, 01:33 PM
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Hello MittenPaw,

And I thought I was cold this morning. What's it like up there today?

Thanks for link, I look forward to checking that out. I guess it would be good to know something about the air I breathe every night.

You said you were able to maintain 30%-60% humidity during your VERY real winter. Do you use a humidifier of some type?

Sweet Shop! When you build your new log home does your shop get to expand to the upstairs where you live now?

Full scribes are great. (They can def. be works of art)

Not all that knowledgeable of different stove brands. What is a VC Resolute?

Our soapstone is a Hearthstone as well. Not sure of the model but I have the number HearthStone1 #22217 written down for some reason on some old paper work. We got lucky, a friend was switching over to gas b/c he was tired of cutting wood so we got it for $500 He almost broke into tears when he saw it in our living room. I think he regrets selling it. Especially with gas prices skyrocketing. But he's not getting it back. Darn thing is too heavy to move anymore. It's a big boy stove as far as what I've seen in Soapstone. Everytime I touched that thing my back hurt for a week.

We love it. We have about 2400sq ft above grade. When I'm there to feed the monster it heats the entire house. (But I'm not in Alaska). Worked wonders during construction even.

My only problem with it is that it did not draw well at first. (Actually not the stove's fault) I have a single wall flue up to the cathedral ceiling height then switch to double, then triple in the attic. The single wall was much cheaper, helps heat the house, but handicapped my draft I think. Problem seems to have been fixed by drilling more vent holes in the air supply pipe that runs along the back of the inside of the stove.

Short story is, heats well. Nice slow heat which is good. Don't expect the immediate heat you get from a metal stove though. Built well, survived 4 guys and my wife, grunting and cussing at it as we removed it from the old Victorian house it was in, a fork lift ride on a piece of Advan Tek up 10' and through my french doors, and into the living room. It is in it's final resting place. (unless it crashes through the floor trusses and into my bsmt.) Knock on log

Darn, I'm long winded, I must be lonely.

By the way, we did ICF BSMT as well. I'm impressed so far. BSMT has not dipped below 55 and we have a fully exposed rear wall with twin windows, french door, and garage door. (no heat down there yet) Been in the low twenties several times. And I haven't even caulked and sealed windows and doors very well yet.
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Old 01-26-2006, 02:17 PM
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Susan, sounds like a plan!

Matt, Floyd sounds familiar. Anywhere near Mabry's Mill? I've gone out 58 a time or two. Good vacation spots!
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Old 01-26-2006, 02:47 PM
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Count me in too. Maybe we can have a pig-pickin. Some of you guys were talking about some barbeque on another thread.

You got it, Mabry Mill is on the Patrick County, Floyd County line. Just down the road from a pretty good winery called the Chateau Morissette (sp). Cool place to visit. They have an outdoor blues/jazz festival at least once a month
during the spring-fall.

Like I said, a very small place. I'm always surprised when people have heard of it.

Also has some recognition as the home of some good bluegrass and old time music. Every Friday night musicians gather and play at a little county store near the center of town.

Also home to FloydFest, a weeklong world music festival which is actually held in Patrick County
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Old 01-26-2006, 03:25 PM
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Fairfax to Floyd..............talk about culture shock!!!
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Old 01-26-2006, 03:35 PM
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For me it was coming home but as for the Mrs. She was shocked by the night life. Meaning possums, coyotes, and hoot owls. Its much darker at night, away from the beltway lights. There's actually stars in the sky again
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Old 01-26-2006, 04:26 PM
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Well, at least you were near Chateau Morrissette for her. A great spot, really liked visiting there and I've enjoyed their sweet wine. Gotta love a wine that uses black labs as their mascot! We had to bring our pooch out of the winery though because the "Queen Lab" was coming and she apparently did not want any female dogs in her winery when she was present! NOT joking.
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Old 01-26-2006, 04:39 PM
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Did you see the size of those timbers they used in their second production facility and showroom? Those are some absolute monsters. I think they came from the St. Lawrence Seaway. (could be wrong) I'll bet some of those timbers are 4' wide. Edit: Maybe an exaggeration but they are BIG. They might even impress Alan.

I think they are Doug Fir

Last edited by Matt; 01-26-2006 at 04:55 PM..
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Old 01-26-2006, 05:48 PM
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Matt,
Thanks for the info re Hearthstone woodstoves - it's good to hear from someone with actual experience with them. 'VC' was just my abbreviation for 'Vermont Castings'. It is an excellent stove but I don't like the construction of modern VC stoves, which is why we are thinking of going to a Hearthstone, either the Heritage or Phoenix, for the house.

As for the local wx, Fairbanks is in the midst of a cold snap and hit a low of -49F this morning and, let me go check the NWS web-site...oh, it's warmed up to -40 now. Outside of town it is a sunny and brilliant day, but in town there is a thick layer of yucky ice fog due to all the moisture from cars, power gen and heating.

We haven't seen the need to actively humidify our little log home (perhaps I should call it the MIL apt): breathing (two humans & one canine trickster), cooking, etc adds enough moisture to keep our relative humidity above 30% @65F even with the outside air extremely dry like right now (for example, using the relative humidity calculator at http://www.eustis.army.mil/weather/w...onversions.htm, if we warm -40F air that is at 100% moisture saturation to +65F and add no moisture, the relative humidity will be less than 1% as cold air can hold so little moisture).
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Old 01-26-2006, 06:21 PM
Matt Matt is offline
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Thanks for the feedback

Darn, that's cold!!!!!!!!!

Last edited by Matt; 01-26-2006 at 06:24 PM..
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