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HVAC Peeps - Whole house humidifiers?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussion' started by Janster, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. Jun 10, 2010 at 2:57 PM
    #1
    Janster

    Janster [OP] Old & Forgetful

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    We currently have a 12+ year old Humidifier attached to our system. Every spring I clean it out, including the foam mesh thing. It's been decent all these years, but the foam is starting to get brittle. I could easily replace the foam for like $17.... The system we have is almost identical to the Trion 465-C1 unit seen here:
    http://www.ontimemall.com/trion-465-c1-humidifier.html

    My question is.... What's new in terms of whole-house humidifiers? Is there anthing that doesn't involve using foam/standing water? Is there anything that will 'mist' or add steam into the duct work?

    I'll probably just stick with buying another filter, but I figured I'd ask and find out what's out there....and whether or not its worth spending $$ to upgrade.

    Thanks ahead of time!!
     
  2. Jun 10, 2010 at 3:17 PM
    #2
    Natetroknot

    Natetroknot Def Leppard Sucks!

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    Any unit normally sold and installed by a heating & cooling company will still have the water panel and function as yours already does, as far as I know.

    Those panels are recommended to be replaced yearly, so you're already ahead of the game since you got away with cleaning it for a while.

    It's summertime you have a couple months before you'll need to make a decision, but if the unit you have now has been doing the trick, I'd buy a new water panel for it and save your $$ for truck mods!
     
  3. Jun 10, 2010 at 3:22 PM
    #3
    mike686

    mike686 Well-Known Member

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    honeywell makes some pretty good steam humidifiers puts a fine mist of steam into your supply air stream and its both adjustable and programmable, id look into one of those ive install two and they havent had any problems since ive talked to the people:eek:
     
  4. Jun 11, 2010 at 4:04 AM
    #4
    Janster

    Janster [OP] Old & Forgetful

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    Yeah....I can always fall back on that. But cleaning that thing has been a royal pain in the ass. In fact, this year....I almost forgot about it till last week. It was NASTY. Even with a water softener and chemicals in the water, the nasty slime & calcium is getting harder and harder to clean up. Damn hard water.....
     
  5. Jun 11, 2010 at 4:15 AM
    #5
    Janster

    Janster [OP] Old & Forgetful

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    Sounds expensive....

    Is this what you're referring to?
    http://www.amazon.com/Honeywell-HM506W1005-WIRELESS-TrueSteam-Humidifier/dp/B001TXP5PM'

    That's not too bad in terms of expense....I'll have to do some research on that and find out exactly how it works/installs, etc. If it's something that we can install ourselves, and has good reviews/feedback online -not a bad option. This is exactly what I was looking for in terms of options/upgrades.

    We'll see.....time to investigate.
     
  6. Jun 11, 2010 at 4:49 AM
    #6
    BradleyScottETC

    BradleyScottETC Class IV Category 8 Elite VIP Member (Only)

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    Here is a cleaning tip for you. When im dealing with stubborn calcium build-up, the best solvent to use is nickle-safe ice machine cleaner. You have to do some research to see were you can pick it up locally, but it will make your water resovior shine like brand new and pull off all of that calcium. And yes, it is also 100% safe on plastics.
     
  7. Jun 11, 2010 at 5:36 AM
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    Blue Hooligan

    Blue Hooligan Well-Known Member

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    Janster:
    The steam humidifiers are expensive, will likely need to be installed by a professional, and I have heard they may rust out your ductwork.

    What you may be looking for is a flow-through type.
    http://customer.honeywell.com/Honey...nnelID={2EB2F178-20ED-44E0-97FB-CCFB4218DD64}
    The water drips into a honeycomb style pad and is drained out so there is no standing water. The cons of this are they waste 75% of the water that goes into them and you need to run a hose from it into the drain. I recently bought the drum style like you have as I didn't want to waste all that water.
     
  8. Jun 11, 2010 at 2:25 PM
    #8
    Janster

    Janster [OP] Old & Forgetful

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    I've been soaking all the stuff in a solution of Lime-Away and water. That's been working when I've had the time to mix it all together and rinse, bla bla bla.

    I'll have to check out the ice machine cleaner and try it out. But first, order a new foamy (if that's what I end up with).
     
  9. Jun 11, 2010 at 5:45 PM
    #9
    mike686

    mike686 Well-Known Member

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    Best place to get that stuff is at any aireco idk if you have them around you but they sell the ice machine cleaner, comes in a clear bottle, greenish yellowish liquid and has a black cap if you go to aireco just ask the people and they will be more then happy to help you with anything even questions with steam humidifiers :cheers:
     
  10. Jun 12, 2010 at 7:07 AM
    #10
    Janster

    Janster [OP] Old & Forgetful

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    The one you listed - although there's no standing water - you still have to maintain a 'wet' foam pad. If I changed anything, it'd be something I wouldn't have to maintain. It's looking more like I'll buy a new foam pad and keep doing what I've been doing for all these years (cleaning yearly).

    Too many other things that need $$ in the house. :rolleyes:

    Thanks for the info gang!!
     
  11. Jun 12, 2010 at 7:38 AM
    #11
    brow

    brow Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I would rip the thing out and use a small single room one if it becomes necessary in the winter. I do to many home remodels that are FULL of mold due to whole house humidifiers on forced air ductwork. And depending on the age of your house, new homes are 10X worse than old homes. This is mainly due to the fact that old homes haev more leaks, and allow moisture to escape, where as new homes are built much tighter, but without necessary air exchange to remove the moisture before it settles into the structure.

    I am currently working in a program that is making houses more sound proof around a major airport, which basically involves replacing all doors and windows, insulating the entire home, and then installing new mechanicals because they all fail and backdraft after we make the homes so tight.

    One of the main rules with this program is you void all window, door, and insulation warranties that pertain to moisture and accept all respnsibility for mold or moisture damage if you run a humidifier.

    Might be a little off topic, but if you do live in a newer home, I believe it's something to consider.
     
  12. Jun 12, 2010 at 7:58 AM
    #12
    Janster

    Janster [OP] Old & Forgetful

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    Our house was built in 1975 - so it's not new.

    I need the whole house humidification. In the fall/winter, my skin itches, gets cracked & sometimes hurts plus my sinuses go crazy - when all that starts happening each year, I know its time to get down in the basement and get the humidifier filled up and running.

    I've often thought about adding an additional 'single room' humidifier in our bedroom for when I sleep for my sinuses.
     
  13. Jun 12, 2010 at 8:01 AM
    #13
    brow

    brow Well-Known Member

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    1975 you shouldn't have to worry about what I was refering to. generally the problem houses I run into are built around 1990 and after.
     
  14. Jun 12, 2010 at 8:11 AM
    #14
    Janster

    Janster [OP] Old & Forgetful

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    I often think about that kinda stuff - mold/duct dust/dirt,etc. My sinuses have been pretty good, under the assumption I'd be susceptable to that kinda stuff?? But I honestly don't know. We have one of those electrostatic filter things on the intake - it stopped working and we never bothered to get it fixed. Are those things still used today? We just put a regular intake filter in there.

    Every year we go through this 'guess work' of what vents/intakes to close off, which bypass valves to move, etc - under the assumption you want to suck hot air from the ceiling in summer and the cold air from the floor in the winter. But its hard to say where the duct work goes. More often than not, majority of the air flow is directed to the upper floor...cuz that seems to be the hardest to keep 'at temp'.

    Or are we being too anal about this kinda thing? :D
     
  15. Jun 12, 2010 at 8:29 AM
    #15
    brow

    brow Well-Known Member

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    There are a bunch of different schools of thought on the issue, but I'm more than happy to give you my opinion that I have come up with through the experiences I've had pulling houses apart and putting them back together.

    The electrostatic filters are a fun selling point, and they do work marginally better than a standard drop in filter, but I don't think the cost is justified with them for the slight performance gain that you get.

    If you are using the standard 1" filter I would recommend checking out the MERV rating (basically it just rates the size of particle that will pass through the filter). They make some that have a really high MERV rating and filter extremely well, the problem with these is that it makes the blower in your furnace work EXTREMELY hard and tends to burn them out prematurely, I recommend going with a MERV 8, kind of middle of the road.

    Their are a couple different answers to the what supplies do i shut off and baffles do I close depending on your system, if you have an AC system hooked up to your furnace, I would be careful shutting off too many supplies. AC systems are designed to have a certain amount of air continually running over them, if they don't have enough air, they can actually ice over inside your furnace and turn into one big chunk of ice. But if you havn't noticed a big puddle under your furnace when using the AC your probably fine with what you are doing.

    Basically you are correct though, it all comes down to heat rises and cool air falls, so in the summer, direct as much cool air upstairs as possible (careful about the icing issue) and in the winter, i would start out with the majority of vents open on both floors, and just adjust to cold spots as needed.

    Once i have the baffles set in the basement to equalize the amount of airflow coming out of the individual supplies, I tend to leave them alone and do the rest of the adjustments at the supplies themselves, however I work with some guys that swear you should have two marks on the basement baffles, one for heating, one for cooling.

    As far as the return ducts go, they usually don't have adjustments on them, they are sized to allow the correct amount of air to come back into the system. If you do have dampers on the returns I would say leave them all wide open.

    Enough of my building science nerdiness for one day. As you probably guessed, you aren't anywhere near as anal with this as some people are.
     
  16. Jun 13, 2010 at 5:51 AM
    #16
    hoosiertaco

    hoosiertaco Well-Known Member

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    The electronic air cleaners are still used Jan. They must be maintianed and monitored to be sure they are operating efficiently. My dad replaces his unit every few years but he doesn't like worrying about a filter.

    I'm an HVAC Journeyman and I personally use a very good washable electrostatic filter purchased from my local HVAC supply house.

    These type of filters will pull most particulates out of the air to help those of us with sinusitus and allergies. During heavy system cycling or continuous operation they must be washed every 2-3 weeks. That is why I don't recommend them for just anyone, most people won't clean them often enough and then you will have a system froze up. Jan, you are maintenance minded and would be a good candidate to use one of these. They aren't cheap, but you only buy it one time.

    For extra air cleaning and to keep the air at different levels in the house mixed, keep your fan running all the time.(mainly in the summer) If you do this, more than likely you can open all supply vents and allow good flow throughout the whole house. It doesn't use as much extra energy to run the fan all the time as you might think. Maybe a nickle a day depending on the blower size. And motors can run better and longer the less they cycle on and off. This also helps to clear the moisture from your ductwork better/quicker after a humidifier has been running.

    I just installed this humidifier along with a brand new heat pump and control system and we will see how it does this winter. I use my system with an outdoor wood burner in the winter,(heat pump is backup).

    Wish I was just down the road from ya Jan, we'd have a looksy at it.:D
     
  17. Jun 14, 2010 at 5:28 AM
    #17
    Janster

    Janster [OP] Old & Forgetful

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    Thanks Gang!!

    I ended up ordering a replacement foamy for my current humidifier. When that comes in, I'll take the whole thing apart again and do a major cleaning. It's actually not that bad but worse than I've ever let it get over the years.

    My husband talked with a co-worker who had a 'steam' system installed a few years back. He said you still have to maintain and 'mess' with it every year to keep it running smoothly (I don't know the details). The thing stopped working one year and he had a run-around trying to get it fixed (circuit board failed). He said he would've never bought the thing if he knew you still have to maintain it.

    With his feedback (so to speak), I think we decided just to stick with what's been working for all these years.

    Thanks Brow & Hoosier! Your information & tips/knowledge are WELL appreciatted!! Thanks to everyone else also! I guess this isn't rocket science, although you can't ignore it completely.

    Another related question.... I have a couple huge bottles of chemicals (scale/algae/bacteria control etc) that I add to the water each year (capfuls at a time). Does this stuff have a shelf life? Is there an easier way - like a disolving tablet or single use packets available?
     
  18. Jun 14, 2010 at 5:59 AM
    #18
    hoosiertaco

    hoosiertaco Well-Known Member

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    you're welcome Jan!!

    the chemical should be okay but some do lose their potency over time.

    There are slow dissolving tablets specifically for condensate drains to keep them flowing well, but I've found that the easiest and most cost effective way to keep water from sliming up in drains and standing water is to use the Clorox bleach tablets that go in the tiolet. Break them up to fit as needed. If they are in standing water they won't last as long as if they are in a spot where water flows over them and carries the chemical to the area with the water. This possibly gives you another option unless the smell was to get to strong. May need to use small pieces.


    http://www.accepta.com/biocide_tablets.asp

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Jun 21, 2010 at 10:07 AM
    #19
    Janster

    Janster [OP] Old & Forgetful

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    Bought a 16oz bottle of this stuff on Friday for $12 - found it locally. My junk is soaking in it right now. It's working pretty good, I'm happy!! Nothing like seeing the copper show after its been covered in green!!

    Again, thanks for the tip!
     
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