Dangers of Dryness

I just saw a thread that asks about the effects of excess humidity. Well, out here in the Southwestern Sonoran desert, we have the exact opposite extreme. Relative humidity regularly drops below 10%. Over the summer moths, we range from 5% to 30% humidity. This is one of the few places in the USA where the Heat Index is actually LOWER than the ambient temperature! I don't have a static electricity problem (good grounding) and I use a great wax on all wood surfaces. Any potential problems for audio gear operating in this "bone dry" region?
If you use a turntable there can be problems. I was having trouble with my records sounding lousy. The cartridge is not old, but the sound was very "brittle" when I mentioned this to Albert Porter be suggested running a humidifier. After a few days the trouble with the cartridge disappeared.

Later my wife wanted to use the humidifier upstairs. I began to notice some of the old problems returning so the humidifier went back into the listening room. Sure enough, the problem cleared up agian.

Coincidence? I don't think so!
Polymers & elastic matls could also have a problem. As Nrchy suggests, invest in a lowly humidifier or two!

You are on the fortunate side of all the environmental choices. I was likely the poster you are referring to. Having lived with high humidity previously and now residing in the high desert of Idaho I can attest to the benfits of low humidity. Remember that the outside conditions have very little to do with what is occuring inside your home. Showering, washing clothes, watering plants, breathing, cooking, etc. all contribute to adding humidity to your somewhat sealed environment. As an example, right now the relative humidity as reported by the weather service where I live is 20%. I have 50% relative humidity inside my home without any humidifier.

If you live in a very dry place and it's hot outside and running your homes A/C, the air that passes through the cooling coils is dry enough to not cause much condesation, so humidity is not taken out of the air. But, by lowering the air temp, the relative humidity rises. That's where the word "relative" comes from in the term relative humidity. It is relative to the air temperature. That being said, if you still have very low humidity in the winter and are heating your home, the reverse happens and the inside relative humidity is less than outside. THAT is when you will need humidification. Simply buy a gauge and monitor what's going on inside your house and you will understand. If you remember my caution about removing too much humidity the same caution applies to adding too much. If your home has high humidity and the outside humidity is low, vapor pressure will make the humidity attempt to equalize itself with the outside conditions. Too much water vapor going through your walls will damage the materials contained therein.

The point is to not go overboard with whatever corrective measures you take. Also, if you ever install a humidifier in your heating system I advise getting a water softener first. Most residential humidifiers drip or spray water on a pad (or screen) that is placed in the path of the heated air. The water evaporates and raises the humidity. If you have hard water the humidifier will malfunction within a couple of years from mineral buildup. The worst case would be too much water being evaporated (it's a complicated thing to describe but imagine a faucet that won't shut off) and raising the inside humidity to a point where you get condensation in places that will damage your home.

After this long and perhaps confusing post, my guess is you need to do absolutely nothing. That is the case in my home. In any case, monitoring the humidity is a good thing.
Lugnut, thanks for your thoughts on this subject -- I also live in the desert, and I appreciate it. :)
Lugnut, thanks for your response! I think that it is better to live in a very dry vs. a very humid climate, as far as audio equipment is concerned. Also, you ought to see some of the abandoned cars in the desert! 50+ year old cars that have been stripped of paint by the wind blown sand, that maybe have a very light coat of skim surface rust, but haven't rotted...for over half a century! There's nothing like getting a used desert car for sheet metal integrity. Commercial and military jets are also "mothballed" out here. The only problem that I've noticed is that when I play vinyl (I listen mainly to CD's right now, though). I clean my vinyl on a VPI, final clean with a carbon fiber brush and compressed air, and then hit the LP with a Zero-stat. The record plays fine, no static pops, but when I go to flip the record to the other side, the static build up (from the friction of the stylus on the grooves?) is UNBELIEVABLE! I am using an SME 10 table, which has some type of vinyl surface on the top of the platter...maybe this accounts for the static build up. Right now (8:15 PM) it's 88 degrees outside, 10% humidity, 25 degree dewpoint, with an 82 degree heat index (that's right, it's so dry that the heat index is LOWER than the actual temperature)! Inside my living room, the humidity is reading 20%, Funny, but I really don't miss the damp and dreary weather (not to mention the "dingbat" politics) of Massachusetts, where I used to live.

Yeah, I sing the praises of high desert classic cars too. My '67 Nova was bead blasted inside and out an no trace of rust was found.

I have the same complaints as you regarding vinyl playback but have a solution. I treat my LP's with GruvGlide and am very satisfied that it is not harmful to the records and certainly doesn't degrade the sonics. Without this treatment I lift the felt mat of my LP12 with every record. The stuff works great and will successfully treat twice as many records as the directions indicate.

I too have gained "some" political peace of mind here in my adopted state of Idaho. I don't think I'd move anywhere else except maybe Montana. The madness is slowly creeping in with the influx of folks attracted by what we have here, yet they seem intent upon making this a clone of where they left. Go figure.
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