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Whole House Humidifier??
Old 02-11-2014, 08:24 PM   #1
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Whole House Humidifier??

We have been struggling this winter from a serious case of static electricity in our house. At times our dog looks like a he just touched one of those static globes they used to have in science class. In addition we have been burning through lotion in an attempt to keep our skin from drying out, especially my 4 year old son who has actually been breaking out in dry skin rashes.

I was having a conversation with our heating and air conditioning guy and he recommended an Aprilaire whole house flow through humidifier. Apparently the unit connects to your hot water line and utilizes some type of sensor to add moisture to the air when the furnace kicks on? He said it would cost around $500 for the unit including installation.

Does anyone on the forum have a whole house humidifier? Do they work? Is Aprilaire a recognized brand and finally is there any impact on the hot water heater as I am guessing it will need to run more often?
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Old 02-11-2014, 08:28 PM   #2
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Nope, but I'm gonna look into it. I have a really big problem with dry skin also. If it would actually help, I'd gladly spend the $500.
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Old 02-11-2014, 08:36 PM   #3
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We had an Aprilaire unit on our 70's vintage house when we lived in the midwest. It worked well but the technology was not very refined. You had to watch for leaks....ours leaked off and on and I believe it caused the furnace cabinet to rust out. We had hard water and that caused it to get caked up and frequent cleaning was suggested. I would think newer units would overcome some of these issues.
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Old 02-11-2014, 08:37 PM   #4
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Ditto...this would be great for my winter allergies plus DH's extremely dry, cracked skin that rears its ugly head in winter.
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Old 02-11-2014, 08:53 PM   #5
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Yes, I have an Aprilaire humidifier on the heating unit, it seems to be the most popular name out there (I had an Autoflo unit in another house). It uses cold, not hot water. It's installed using a simple tap into the cold water pipe just like a water line for the fridge. There's a water filter made of plastic with metal mesh that can be cleaned each yr or more frequently if you want with vinegar or you can buy a replacement unit. There's a discharge hose that sends excess water to the house drain. They're not too difficult to install DIY if you have some basic skills (sheet metal cutting, install of a thermostat type controller and connecting electrical wires). As cold as it gets here, I still use a separate humidifier near the bedrooms all the time in the winter.
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Old 02-11-2014, 08:59 PM   #6
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We use a big console humidifier, which is too small for the whole house but helps quite a bit. It's a bit noisy, so I only run it when my legs start itching. Certainly a humidifier would be good idea and would help.
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Old 02-11-2014, 08:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dimsumkid View Post
Yes, I have an Aprilaire humidifier on the heating unit, it seems to be the most popular name out there (I had an Autoflo unit in another house). It uses cold, not hot water. It's installed using a simple tap into the cold water pipe just like a water line for the fridge. There's a water filter made of plastic with metal mesh that can be cleaned each yr or more frequently if you want with vinegar or you can buy a replacement unit. There's a discharge hose that sends excess water to the house drain. They're not too difficult to install DIY if you have some basic skills (sheet metal cutting, install of a thermostat type controller and connecting electrical wires). As cold as it gets here, I still use a separate humidifier near the bedrooms all the time in the winter.

Thanks Dimsumkid I am guessing that if you had them in both your houses you feel that they work well?
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dimsumkid View Post
Yes, I have an Aprilaire humidifier on the heating unit, it seems to be the most popular name out there (I had an Autoflo unit in another house). It uses cold, not hot water. It's installed using a simple tap into the cold water pipe just like a water line for the fridge. There's a water filter made of plastic with metal mesh that can be cleaned each yr or more frequently if you want with vinegar or you can buy a replacement unit. There's a discharge hose that sends excess water to the house drain. They're not too difficult to install DIY if you have some basic skills (sheet metal cutting, install of a thermostat type controller and connecting electrical wires). As cold as it gets here, I still use a separate humidifier near the bedrooms all the time in the winter.
We do this as well.
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Whole House Humidifier??
Old 02-11-2014, 09:09 PM   #9
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Whole House Humidifier??

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We do this as well.

I should too. I'm starting to look like a lizard up here.
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:29 PM   #10
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Thanks Dimsumkid I am guessing that if you had them in both your houses you feel that they work well?
Yes, I would purchase either one but I know the Aprilaire units cost more. It's really dry here, so when the temps get low, the air has trouble keeping moisture. As long as you do minimum annual maintenance/cleaning, you should be fine.
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:30 PM   #11
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We got a whole-house unit a couple yrs ago & it made a notable difference. Dimsumkid describes things pretty well.
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:50 PM   #12
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I highly, and I mean HIGHLY recommend you get one.

We have had one in our last two homes (10 years in the first home, 20+ in this one). If I moved into a home here in the Midwest without one, I would immediately have one added. If ours broke, I would replace it w/o a second thought.

Ours, in 30 years have been almost problem free. The first was AprilAire (the standard) the current one (in when we moved here) is some off-brand, bit is fine. The beauty is, that water drains through, it does not get stagnant, and the constant flow helps keep mineral build up to a minimum.

We have a humidistat (like thermostat but senses humidity) near the thermostat. Pretty much set it and forget it, sometimes I need to turn it lower if the windows are steaming up, or we get condensation on a cold wall. I generally keep it just high enough to keep from getting static shocks anywhere, and that seems pretty comfortable.

I even stopped doing the annual filter cleaning about 15 years ago. So even though the filter media has deposits on it, so what, the water still trickles over it, and the air still flows. I just left it alone. Last year, the filter basically disintegrated, I just found a paper element at Menards, and cut it to fit.

Ad to re-iterate others, they should be hooked to the cold line. Our first was hooked to the hot, the installer said it would work better. But it has no trouble keeping up with cold, and I think the manual specifies cold, so go cold.

While you could DIY cheaper, $500 isn't a bad price, and I'm a cheap skate. I think they run ~ $200, and installation isn't hard, but it isn't a cakewalk either.

I really can't say it strongly enough, based on your symptoms, this is perfect for you. Get one, get it now. After a week, you won't believe you even questioned it.

I don't think I can add anything. Just do it! This isn't an 'it depends' thing - just do it! There are few things I could recommend so strongly.

-ERD50
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:50 PM   #13
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I should mention if there is a downside, I don't like that water keeps flowing into the unit and into the drain (and sump pump for me). So if you're paying for metered water, you will be dumping excess water as long as the heat is on. As an alternative, there's plug in whole house or console humidifiers (hold around 10+ gal and has wheels) that I used to use that would do the trick too. I think Bemis and Essick still make them, I used to have an old Sunbeam unit. It would cost much less than installing an HVAC Aprilaire unit.
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:57 PM   #14
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I have one, and love it. Mine also is fed from the cold water line. Basically a box with about a 6 inch diameter wheel that dips into a pan of water and sits right at the start of the duct work by the furnace to feed moisture into the system. I empty and clean the pan at the end of winter and turn off the water, and turn it back on in late fall, and probably should've replaced the wheel filter before last year, but that's all I've had to do.
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:07 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazz4cash View Post
We had an Aprilaire unit on our 70's vintage house when we lived in the midwest. It worked well but the technology was not very refined. You had to watch for leaks....ours leaked off and on and I believe it caused the furnace cabinet to rust out. We had hard water and that caused it to get caked up and frequent cleaning was suggested. I would think newer units would overcome some of these issues.
I can't imagine why you'd have leaks. There isn't much 'technology' in these things, and I don't think they've changed much. Basically a box that holds the media, a solenoid valve to shut the water on/off as needed, a drain, and a humidistat tied into the circuit so it only runs when the furnace runs and humidity is low.

We were on softened water, so that probably greatly reduced mineral buildup. Maybe the mineral build up on yours led to clogged drain holes, and then it overflowed?

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Old 02-11-2014, 10:15 PM   #16
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I should mention if there is a downside, I don't like that water keeps flowing into the unit and into the drain (and sump pump for me). So if you're paying for metered water, you will be dumping excess water as long as the heat is on.
Yes, but it is just a trickle, and it isn't on all the time the furnace is on, just when the humidistat also senses low humidity. I can't tell you how much ours runs, no easy way to monitor it, but I can hear a slight buzz from the solenoid when I walk by the running furnace, and it seems to be off more than it is on. I'm betting the water cost is far below the cost of lotions and such, and whatever cost you can assign to rashes and discomfort.


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As an alternative, there's plug in whole house or console humidifiers (hold around 10+ gal and has wheels) that I used to use that would do the trick too. I think Bemis and Essick still make them, I used to have an old Sunbeam unit. It would cost much less than installing an HVAC Aprilaire unit.
Yes, but then you have the stagnant water (possible bacteria mold problems) and mineral build up. As the water evaporates, all the minerals get left behind to build up over time. The constant water trickle in the AprilAire types is such an advantage - it is constantly flushing everything with a little fresh water. It drains, and probably dries out between cycles, so bacteria don't have a chance to take hold. You really can't beat that, IMO.

-ERD50
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:23 PM   #17
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I cannot do it at our current house.... but in our old house we had a flat bottom on the return air....

I would place a bucket of water there and let the airflow do its magic... worked well enough for me...
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:28 PM   #18
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Yes, but then you have the stagnant water (possible bacteria mold problems) and mineral build up. As the water evaporates, all the minerals get left behind to build up over time. The constant water trickle in the AprilAire types is such an advantage - it is constantly flushing everything with a little fresh water. It drains, and probably dries out between cycles, so bacteria don't have a chance to take hold. You really can't beat that, IMO.

-ERD50
I used the bacteriostat solution ($3-4 a bottle, lasts several yrs) that you add a small capful to the humidifier water to keep that from happening. Mineral build up maintenance is needed in either unit. If cost is a factor, it's $130 for a console humidifier vs. $500+ for installing an Aprilaire HVAC unit.

Funny, the weather guy mentioned hanging a damp towel somewhere in the bedroom to add humidity to the air last night!
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Old 02-12-2014, 06:54 AM   #19
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I use a portable unit. Bit of a pita to keep filled, but works.

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Old 02-12-2014, 07:02 AM   #20
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I've had whole-house humidifiers in all previous houses and this one as well. Highly recommended. They don't use enough water to make a noticeable difference in your water/sewer use.

Unfortunately in this house there isn't room on the hot air side of the plenum to install it there so it's on the cold air return which reduces effectiveness considerably. But it still helps.
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