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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    6
    I'm trying to decide whether or not to install a whole house humidifier, and if so, how it should be done. I've gotten quotes from several contractors so far, but I have a couple of complicating factors in my home, so I'd like to hear thoughts from people in this forum.

    I'm located in northern Ohio, and my home is about 1,800 square feet (1,400 is downstairs, including both bedrooms). The house is on a slab.

    Last winter I used a portable room humidifier that can put out about 4 gallons per day. Except on very cold days (<15 degrees), it seems to keep the humidity at or above 30%. On really cold days, it might have dipped to 25%. That's why I'm looking for a central humidifier -- because this thing is barely adequate, plus it's only humidifying one area of the house and it's a pain to fill and clean frequently.

    But here's the complicating factor. My furnace is in the garage, and it's very, very far from the master bedroom at the back of the house. Plus the master bedroom has exterior walls on three sides, coupled with huge windows and a set of French doors (which I cover with plastic, but they still contribute to heat loss). Needless to say, during winter nights, the bedroom's temperature can easily drop 10-15 degrees below the temperature at the thermostat.

    (Side note: A year ago I had an HVAC contractor out to my house to give recommendations on how to correct the temperature difference between the master bedroom and the rest of the house. He came up with a couple possible solutions: 1) a system to divide the house into zones, which would be very expensive to retrofit given that the ducts are embedded in the slab; or 2) an electric baseboard heater controlled by a thermostat in the master bedroom. I've done neither, mostly because I'm probably not going to stay in the house for more than two more winters. I went to Target and bought a $40 oscillating heater with a thermostat control on it. Last winter I set the thermostat on the portable heater to 68 each night and closed the bedroom door, then I set the main house thermostat down to 56 to conserve energy in the rest of the house. This arrangement worked very well. Of course, I also had the portable humidifier in the bedroom while I was running the heater each night, so it kept the humidity in the bedroom high. But since my goal is to install a central humidifier and get rid of the porable humidifier, this is where I'm seeing a possible problem.)

    I've had several HVAC contractors quote me on a whole house humidifier, and they're all recommending the Aprilaire 600. But when I've told them about my "problem" with the bedroom heat, and I ask what will happen to the humidity if I set the house thermostat to 56 each night and essentially heat the bedroom with the portable heater, I've gotten mixed answers.

    One contractor said it'll be fine, because the 17 hours when the furnace will be running will get the humidity up to a decent level during the day. He said the humidity in the bedroom will drop at night, but it should still be at an acceptable level after 17 hours of humidity during the day.

    Another one really didn't know what to say. He said running the portable humidifier the way I've been using it isn't a smart idea because of possible mold growth. But he didn't have a good answer when I asked what would happen if I install the Aprilaire 600 and continue to use the portable heater in the bedroom. He basically said, "It depends. You'll just have to try it out and see."

    Any thoughts/opinions/suggestions for keeping my house effectively humidified without spending huge dollars? Or is there any more information you need before making suggestions?

    (BTW, this seems like a great community. I did some lurking before signing up to make this first post, and there's a lot of fantastic information in here!)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    108
    Four gallons a day to keep the humidity at 25% on a cold day means that you have serious air leakage. It's better to seal air leaks than trying to humidify the entire outdoors.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    1,677

    I'm located in northern Ohio, and my home is about 1,800 square feet (1,400 is downstairs, including both bedrooms). The house is on a slab.

    Funny coincidence, I service Cuyahoga County and have for 30 years

    The aprilaire 600 with the auto trac humidistat will be more than adequate to humidify your home. humidity travels everywhere and you shouldn't dry out your bedroom area in that short period of time

    But engeneerguy has a valid point seal up any air leaks you might have

    The other concern I might have is you say your furnace is in the garage, Is this a heated space? If not you shouldn't allow anyone to install a humidifier of any kind as the water line will freeze and then you will have another problem


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    6
    The other concern I might have is you say your furnace is in the garage, Is this a heated space? If not you shouldn't allow anyone to install a humidifier of any kind as the water line will freeze and then you will have another problem
    The garage isn't heated. Furnace access is in the garage, in a "closet" up against the interior wall of the house, tucked into an indentation where the main living space starts. This closet is also where the main water line originates (and where the hot water tank is). The furnace kicks off enough heat to keep the water line from freezing. All of my neighbors have the same configuration, and to the best of my knowledge, nobody has had a problem with a frozen water line. I have also wrapped all of the water pipes and my hot water tank in insulation. But yeah, I agree -- it doesn't seem like a very smart design!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    1,677
    This closet is also where the main water line originates (and where the hot water tank is). The furnace kicks off enough heat to keep the water line from freezing. All of my neighbors have the same configuration, and to the best of my knowledge, nobody has had a problem with a frozen water line. I have also wrapped all of the water pipes and my hot water tank in insulation. But yeah, I agree -- it doesn't seem like a very smart design!<<<<<<<

    I have a customer with a similiar setup in Beachwood ohio

    He had a buddy install a humidifer in the closet furnace but it got real cold a couple of years ago and cracked his humidifier supply line

    Fortunatly the only bad thing that happened to him was an expanded water bill as his icy floor sloped to the drain in the garage.


    [Edited by small change on 09-06-2006 at 07:34 PM]

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    6
    He had a buddy install a humidifer in the closet furnace but it got real cold a couple of years ago and cracked his humidifier supply line
    Was it a hot water line? One of the contractors who quoted the job said he'd probably tap into the hot water, since the hot water tank is in the same closet and because it'd be more efficient to disperse warm water (which I've read at least once or twice before while researching humidifiers online).

    Any other thoughts on how to avoid this problem? Insulation might help, and I'm guessing hot water would too, but I'd hate to count on it...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    6,959
    Info:

    Model 600: 0.7 gallons per hour up to 4000 square feet.

    Model 700: 0.75 gallons per hour up to 4200 square feet.

    As I recall humidity seeks dryness. However if the duct design (delivery system) prevents the temps in the bedroom from being uniform with the rest of the house it will most likely also impact the amount of humidity delivered also.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    1,677
    Was it a hot water line? One of the contractors who quoted the job said he'd probably tap into the hot water, since the hot water tank is in the same closet and because it'd be more efficient to disperse warm water (which I've read at least once or twice before while researching humidifiers online).


    There are opinions on both sides of the aisle on this one

    This from Aprilaire....
    All of our flow-through units can be connected to hot or cold water. Hot water increases the evaporative capacity of your humidifer, provides more humidity to the home and offers more flexibility in the operation of the humidifier. Some of our units can use hot air and cold water. All humidifiers need some source of heat for evaporation to take place whether it is hot water or hot air. We would recommend that if our power units are installed on the return ductwork, that they be connected to hot water, as this is their only heat source. Heat pumps and large capacity installations need hot water. Heat pumps are not hot enough for evaporation and some larger installations need maximum capacity so they will need to use both hot air and hot water. The Model 400 should be connected to cold water due to the wicking Water Panel as it cannot be guaranteed that the water will stay hot while waiting for the next heat call on the Water Panel. With any drain-though Aprilaire Humidifier connected to hot water, the heat in the water is used in the evaporation process and the water coming out of the drain will be cold to the touch.

    Skuttle says this.....

    I've heard its better to use hot water with my humidifier, is this true?
    Hot water will not harm your humidifier, however our lab tests show that the small performance gains are not worth the added costs for heating water.

    Sounds like it helps but you pay for the added humidity



    Any other thoughts on how to avoid this problem? Insulation might help, and I'm guessing hot water would too, but I'd hate to count on it...

    I hate to ask a question with a question but

    Where is your combustion air coming from for the water heater and or the furnace?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Cleveland, OH
    Posts
    2,765
    What everyone seems to be missing is that if he sets his stat back to 56, the furnace is not going to run as much. A properly installed #600 only disperses humidity when the furnace is running.

    We've had problems with the number 600 in new construction because of people using an extreme setback at night. I am also not a big fan of Auto-Trak controls, the outdoor sensors seem to be unreliable and we've had complaints that when it's run in auto mode it's not comfortable. We usually end up removing the sensor and running them manual.

    Good? Bad? I'm the guy with the gun.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    2,597
    Originally posted by dougfamous
    What everyone seems to be missing is that if he sets his stat back to 56, the furnace is not going to run as much. A properly installed #600 only disperses humidity when the furnace is running.

    We've had problems with the number 600 in new construction because of people using an extreme setback at night. I am also not a big fan of Auto-Trak controls, the outdoor sensors seem to be unreliable and we've had complaints that when it's run in auto mode it's not comfortable. We usually end up removing the sensor and running them manual.

    exactly.
    what you are looking for is a steam humidifier that runs independnt of the furnace, but will turn on the furnace fan with a call.

    our preferred brand is auto-flo, but there are many to choose from.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    1,677
    What everyone seems to be missing is that if he sets his stat back to 56, the furnace is not going to run as much. A properly installed #600 only disperses humidity when the furnace is running.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    That's true but he is also talking about installing a humidifier in a closet off of a garage.

    Maybe we could address the fact that the water line may or may not freeze?

    I am also not a big fan of Auto-Trak controls, the outdoor sensors seem to be unreliable and we've had complaints that when it's run in auto mode it's not comfortable. <<<<<<<<

    While a steam himidifier may be the "ultimate" answer to his problem. The 600 should be more than sufficent to solve his humidity needs.

    What problems are you having with the auto trak? so far we have been problem free.












  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    2,597
    Originally posted by small change


    While a steam himidifier may be the "ultimate" answer to his problem. The 600 should be more than sufficent to solve his humidity needs.













    do you give your customers "ultimate" or "more than sufficient" service?


    .

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Cleveland, OH
    Posts
    2,765
    That's true but he is also talking about installing a humidifier in a closet off of a garage.
    So? If his hot water tank is in there, too, then I don't see a problem.

    While a steam himidifier may be the "ultimate" answer to his problem. The 600 should be more than sufficent to solve his humidity needs.
    So, you'd rather have the 49853958395 callbacks that will no doubt come when you tell him the #600 will work for him and it doesn't? Why take that chance? Why not just put in a steamer?

    What problems are you having with the auto trak? so far we have been problem free.
    As I said, customers have been complaining that with the automatic sensor on, the humidifier is not running enough or it's still too dry in the house. We have had to remove many of them and return them to manual control. Aprilaire has basically told us "The customer doesn't know what they want, we'll just do it the way we consider to be best and they can live with it".

    Good? Bad? I'm the guy with the gun.

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