What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

New Humidifier

It's always interesting moving to a new home then discovering all those little things you didn't notice when you viewed the house. In fairness we went through the house only once before signing the papers and a quick trip through for measuring just before moving. This is fairly typical of most home purchases I think. Unlike some we did not get a home inspection as this house was purchased based on location but I have to tell you this is our fifth purchased house and we have never had home inspections for any of them. As long as the buyer is well away of what they are getting into with the house I don't feel a home inspection is worth it.

During the heating season the indoor air can get quite dry. Most people are comfortable at humidity levels between 30% and 50%. Lower than 30% humidity will result in increased colds due to irritated and dry mucosal membranes, dry skin, dry hair, wood/furniture damage, drywall/plaster cracking and increased static electricity. Humidity levels higher that 50% can create mold issues, moisture problems, insect problems, wood/furniture damage and provide the ideal environment for dust mite population explosion. In our area a humidifier is commonly added to the furnace to improve dry winter air while in the summer a stand alone dehumidifier and/or air conditioning is used to reduce indoor humidity. Those using other heating systems than a furnace often use a stand alone humidifier.

old humidifierOld Humidifier

We knew the furnace here was old and that we cannot have it repaired as the manufacturer went out of business so parts are not longer available other than very generic parts. However, the previous owner had the maintenance record since the installation in 1983. The furnace was routinely checked and any necessary repairs done each fall. In addition to this the previous owner shut down the house for the winter months to vacation in Florida for 10 years prior to us buying the house so the furnace was used mainly in October. As a result the furnace is in excellent condition. We have been advised not to replace it until absolutely necessary. Just in case you are wondering about the energy efficiency of the furnace, our January gas bill (dryer, furnace, fireplace, outdoor grill) was $100.21 (31 days/406.674 total cubic meters gas used).

Pictured is the old furnace humidifier that was actually installed incorrectly. Sorry the humidifier went from that spot directly into the garbage so I didn't get the brand name in the blink of an eye. It was toast! It had actually been installed on the hot air return quite contrary to the new humidifier.

AirKing Wait 6000 HumidifierWait 6000 Humidifier

We have an uncanny knack of being able to get great deals on necessary home improvement items simply because we are willing to wait until we see a great deal. The list price for the Wait 6000 Humidifier was $179 but we got it for 50% off and we bought it back in the late summer when we were still dealing with plumbing issues. Certain items like this can easily be bought at greatly reduced or clearance prices then installed later as you have time. For example we have the Moen faucets and tub/shower assembly bought on clearance at the same time we bought the kitchen sink and faucet but we saved enough to warrant buying it then.

The AirKing® Wait 6000 Humidifier is a flow through model that uses up to 12 gallons per day. It can be heat activated unit can be set to the desired humidification that should be somewhere between 30% and 50%. This humidifier only comes on after the furnace cycles on then turns off immediately after the cooling cycle. A flow through humidifier does use water so an inline restrictor but there is no tumbler or moving parts. It may be necessary or the valve controling the water supplied to the unit can be turned to the amount of water being drained is acceptable.

duct problemDuct Problem

One problem is older heating systems is the duct work. Contrary to many beliefs, actual duct tape is not good for sealing ducting seams, hole or other problems. Metal foil tape should be used instead and be careful when using this tape as it can give little cuts across your fingers. The metal foil tape gives a nice tight seal that won't lift over time as regular duct tape will.

Any home heat ducting system should be checked for air leakage. Any air leakage from the duct work via holes or seams ends up costing money because the heated or cooled air is not getting where it is supposed to go. Seal any holes (red arrow) with metal duct tape. This is a very simple, low cost yet effective way of making your furnace/air conditioning more efficient.

AirKing Wait 6000 humidifier installedInstalled

Installation meant removing the old humidifier and patching that hole with sheet metal (red arrow) and cutting 2 new holes. It turned out to be a bit more complicated than planned so the project ended up taking about 4 hours. In the end after a few tests we assured ourselves the humidifier was working properly. According to the instructions we were supposed to set the humistat at 50% for the first 2 weeks of operation to allow the humidity level in the house to equalize. This also ensures the unit cycles on with every furnace cycle. After this initial run the humistat can then be adjusted to a comfortable humidity level. In our case we will aim for the 30% to 35% humidity level.

On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate this project as a 7 in terms of ease of installation as a DIY project with 1 being easy and 10 being hard. Much will depend on whether there is a pre-existing humidifier and whether it is in the correct location. A water line will need to be tapped into if there is no pre-exisiting humidifier. A drain line will also need to be installed if one is not already there. So this is a project that can take a fair number of DIY skills.

Garden Gnome


Carol Yates Wilkerson said...

This is something I wish we had added to our furnace system in the beginning, but instead we put in A/C a couple years ago. Now, because there is just so much room above the furnace itself for more addons, we may have to opt for a large in house one instead. Not a big problem, but something for others to consider if they are replacing a furnace system. Good article!

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Carol and thanks for visiting. I'm glade you enjoyed the article. I can empathize especially since I know new furnaces are a lot smaller than our beast is. Humidifiers are installed in the ducting from the furnace so there are several styles. You might get lucky and find one that will fit your system. I agree this is something to consider when replacing the furnace.