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New York Times

 Room to Improve

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Published: December 27, 2007

Q. Where can I find an old-fashioned radiator humidifier?

A. Good free-standing humidifiers — the type with high approval ratings from consumer-advocacy groups and that disperse mist across a decent amount of space — can be costly. The ones I crave sell for around $200 and sound like small sports cars when they’re running. But what is a homeowner to do as temperatures rise indoors to combat the cold without?

In New York and other metropolitan areas where warmth depends on steam heat from radiators, the need for moisture in the air is acute, and not just for comfort. Furniture with veneers can dry out without sufficient atmospheric moisture and regularly applied emollients.

Traditional radiator humidifiers are still made, but they are not easy to find. A recent search for old-fashioned, low-cost humidifiers that attach directly to radiators turned up several that do the low-tech trick of holding water, which is warmed and then evaporates. They are inexpensive, a good thing if you have several radiators, but they require frequent refills.

Terry Carillo of Prescott, Ariz., makes handmade glazed-ceramic radiator humidifiers inspired by 19th-century European models that hang on the front of a radiator. Shaped like tubes and measuring 8 or 9 inches long by 3 inches wide, they are available in solid colors or decorated with decals or handpainted designs. Prices start at $16.95 at (928) 778-3189 or

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