Fun with humidifiers

After spending last winter in my new home walking around and seeing (or not seeing) my cats run in fear at my approach due to massive amounts of static electricity buildup, I decided to put in a humidifier. It was going to happen eventually, but I got around to it this past weekend.

For those that don't live in northern climates, or places where it doesn't get colder than freezing, you probably don't realize the need for a humidifier in the house. While the summer up in Minnesota sometimes makes the air feel more like soup, the winter makes it very dry. Cold air doesn't hold much moisture and when its heated up, well, that doesn't help it much either. You get all of the nice benefits of dry skin, waking up in the middle of the night with cottonmouth much worse than normal, fear of doorknobs, light switches, and scared housepets.

We moved into our new house last year and I've been very happy with it. Most things have been well thought out in their location and access, in terms of normal household things like lights, water main, fuse box, electrical circuits, etc. I had thought that it was good thing that the furnace was nice and tucked in a corner, as opposed to being in the middle of the basement. My mind has changed now.

The humidifier that I bought is the bypass style. Essentially, this style involves cutting a large opening in either the hot air supply or cold air return to place the unit that consists of a solenoid valve, and a mesh screen/filter that water gets poured over. Its called a bypass style because you need to cut and install ducting from the opposite supply or return. This creates air-flow that goes through the filter and evaporates the water into the air. Its simple enough of a concept.

My problem here is that some homebuilders (or mine at least) haven't figured out that this is something that 99% of the people living in MN will install one of these units and provide space to give a save place to cut into the ducting without cutting something else that lives inside the ducting like the A-coil for the air-conditioner.

The problem in my case lies with the furnace being tucked into the corner. The cold air return was accessible, but the hot air side was up against a wall on 2 sides (with only about 3 or 4 inches clearance, had the cold air return running down next to it on the 3rd, and had ducting coming out of it on the front. The ducting coming out of it in the front wouldn't have been a problem to tap into, but they put a vent (presumably for basement heating) immediately at the first place one could cut in to put in a vent. My bypass had to start out about 3 feet from the furnace to run back to the humidifier which is attached to the cold air return. I had no other place to put it. Luckily, they included enough ducting with the unit to make the distance.

I will say that I do appreciate people that do this sort of thing for a living. I suppose that having the appropriate tools for sheet metal does help, but doing it everyday likely helps more. The instructions for the unit said that installation would take about an hour. I stopped after 3 because it was 10pm on a Sunday night. I'm down to the last step, which involves installing the self-piercing valve for the water supply. I figured that cutting into the water supply at 10pm after all of the hardware stores have closed was not a good idea. I'll do that tonight.

Hopefully my cats will appreciate it.


Post a Comment:
Comments are closed for this entry.

Phil is an Area Technical Engineer in the Central Area of Oracle's Field Service in North America. He has 15 years of experience supporting Sun's entire product line.


« February 2016