optimal humidity should be about 30%

It's cold here in Tuvalu. 18 degrees last night. We are pumping heat and burning firewood and wearing layers. Some of us are getting nose-bleeds from all this dry heat (which we are fortunate to be blessed with). Some of us get nose-bleeds year after year, in the winter-time, and some years we do nothing about it and some years we argue over the use of saline nose spray, for example, or special in-nose moisturizer (just saying), or for a humidifier, which we have explored this year.
In in our family history, several humidifiers have been purchased. There was that time when Oldest had a terrible cough and the pediatrician convinced me to buy one and I nearly melted the paint off his walls. When Youngest was an infant I had a beautifully designed humidifier which lasted six months before I became aggravated with its daily care requirements. And K and I have had one in our room...a Bionaire, if I recall correctly. It was the kind of appliance one might see on Apartment Therapy, streamlined and attractive. That one, too, bit the dust. I think it required an expensive cleanser which proved more costly than replacing the unit itself.
Suffice to say, humidifiers have come and gone under my watch and, while I see the merit in them, I am not convinced that there is one available that is reliable and easy to use and maintain (and I've also been known to boil pots of water each day, when I was home all day).
Which brings me to the Humidifier Odyssey Of 2011.
After four consecutive nose hemorrhages, I did a some online research. I also noted that several office-mates had purchased a tiny, personal-sized unit for their offices. That particular model retailed for $40 and used any readily available bottle of water to mist the space. Alas, though silent, the machine only runs for about four hours and, so, would clearly not be useful in our home. I talked to my friends about it over lunch and M told me she had just bought one but that it required weekly cleansing with vinegar and I was immediately put off.
I dashed across the street at lunchtime the next day and surveyed the models. Most of them were well over $100 and, knowing we probably wouldn't keep it forever, I wouldn't spend that much.
I chose a $40 Bionaire which was small and promised ease of use.
I took it home and filled it up and plugged it in. It was somewhat noisy, but WHO AM I? I mean, really, this whole need for humidification is a bit much to begin with and, knowing that I cheaped out, I wondered how much I could rightfully expect in terms of service?
K noted it was "loud" and moved it from the dresser (where sound can reverberate due to the hard surface) onto the rug. We went to bed.
I noticed he got up during the night and assumed he was restless or didn't feel well. When he returned to bed, at about 4am, he shut the machine off.
When we got up in the morning I said: you shut the humidifier off? 
and K said: yes, it ran out of water and made an even louder noise!
I checked the box. "Runs for a full six hours on one tank of water."
I put it back in the box and brought it back to the store.
Is there anything wrong with the unit? the customer service guy asked me.
No, I said at first, though it is loud...and it only runs six hours on a tank of water.
Then there is something wrong with it! he said and we laughed.
I looked around for a replacement that would run longer, not be hideous, not cost $200 and be easy to take care of. Nothing.
I went across the street to the drugstore and purchased a Vicks Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier. Still under a hundred bucks, I figured Vicks must know a thing or two as I've been using their Vapo-Rub for thirty years.
I brought it home, I filled the tank, I plugged it in. K came up to our room.
Rommel's tanks were quieter than this! he said. I would have punched him in the nose, but, you know....
We went to bed. We figured we'd see if we could sleep through it.
And we did. Mostly.
Sometime during the night, K decided to dispense with one of his pillows. He tossed it on the floor and (you can see where I'm going with this can't you?) it sort of blocked the mist output thingy on the humidifier.
In the morning, we still felt kind of dry. But K's pillow was as soaked as a sponge. Middle suggested K sleep on it the next night for maximum moisturizing.

This brings us to night three. Cozy and warm in our wonderful little house, we were ready to fill our Vicks and turn in when the phone rang. Do you have running water? my beloved neighbor asked.
We did not.
A water main break.
Filling the humidifier was the least of our problems, as you can imagine.
Is it possible, I hear you asking, to fill toilet tanks with snow?


marian said…
Ha! Brilliant! and good luck... Out here where it is routinely 10 below, we fork up the $250 for a Sears, but only to keep the computers and printers from shorting out when we touch them. It's a write-off, Jerry!
Paola said…
Don't take it personally but I am ROLMFAO and Middle always has the right ideas.
Badger said…
As the mother of a chronic low-humidity nose-bleeder I was all set to comment on the whole humidifier/moisturizer thing, but then your surprise ending threw me. Huh. Well. Good luck with that!
RW said…
we here on the other hand are drowning in precipitation.
Anonymous said…
Another approach: at bedtime, slather the inside of your nose with Vicks or Metholatum or even Vaseline. It works!
Susie Sunshine said…
Then you shall come and live with me! -Pooh Bear

(And bring the family! -Susie Sunshine)
Duyvken said…
we're more into de-humidifiers here :-) Good luck with getting it al sorted out. I had a lot of nosebleeds as a teen and it was a real pia. Lucky for my cauterising made a big difference to me.
Wishing you all well,
Just Plain Jane said…
Suffice it to say that I love it best when your blog entry is a story unto itself about your family. Enjoyed this one. You portray frustration well. Good luck with getting the humidity just right.
Anonymous said…
Melt the snow on your stove first, then add it to the toilet tank.

When I lived in the west village I would put pots of water on the radiator. automatic humidifier.

Ann said…
Oh gee, hope the water line has been repaired by now. I don't suppose you have forced air heat, do you? Cause there's a nifty humidifier that was added onto our furnace that's made all the difference in the world. Short of that, Vaseline helps a lot, as does drinking more water/less coffee/tea/vino. Dang.
Annie said…
I currently run 3 humidifiers in my house. A Bionaire - which, you're right, is quite noisy and I have to fill often (2x per day). In my wine cellar, I run a Duracast - which I've had for 10+ years, has never given me a lick of trouble, and is atrociously ugly. My current favorite is a Sunbeam ... virtually silent ... with dual output setting so a tank will last either 18 or 36 hours. It has no filters to replace (I have to clean the "innards" perhaps once every two weeks, but it's very easy.) I think I paid around $50. I highly recommend it. Hope your water is fixed!
Anonymous said…
I'm sorry, but the ending was TOO funny! Life can be so ironic that way. Good luck finding the right solution (aside from boiling water constantly to let steam in the house)
We just visited friends with a very dry house--the static electricity was shocking! I feel so spoiled because we have radiant heat, really keeps our house comfortably warm without sapping the moisture.