Author Topic: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!  (Read 16756 times)

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« on: February 01, 2015, 12:32:49 PM »
Hi everyone.

First time poster here.

Here's some information about our home...

Located in Canada Ontario in the GTA area. So it's winter now. Our home is 2400 sq ft. Our furnace is a Lennox Elite Series. Our whole home humidifier is an Aprilaire 600M. When the furnace is on, the house receives proper heat throughout. The humidifier only turns on when the furnace turns on.

Even with the humidistat cranked full, the house is barely sitting at 30% humidity. Lots of dry noses and lots of static in our home right now.

When I open the Aprilaire cover to inspect if water is coming out from the solenoid valve, it does. However, I'm not sure if the flow is enough. The pad (which has been recently replaced) just doesn't seem to be getting enough water through it. The solenoid has been cleaned and the water source is attached to our hot water tank via a saddle valve (which is wide open).

I just don't understand the lack of humidity. In our previous home, we had an Aprilaire unit which provided excellent humidity... to the point that we needed to keep it at a lower level.

Any suggestions/recommendations on what could be causing this low humidity and how we can increase the humidity in our home, would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers!

Offline Admin

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2363
    • HVAC TECH GROUP
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2015, 12:47:53 PM »
How is the humidifier wired to that furnace?  Is it a EL296 model?

It's a 2 stage furnace so a jumper between R and the HUM terminal should be installed.  Then wire the humidistat and solenoid in series with C and the unused HUM terminal.  That way the humidistat will be powered in low and high fire.  Someone may have wired the humidifier to W1 and C and the humidifier would only work in low fire.

Is the humidifier installed on the return side?  Is the humidistat on the return side at least 12" above the humidifier?  Is the bypass open on the humidifier?

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2015, 01:04:41 PM »
Here are some pics...

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2015, 01:10:27 PM »
Here are some pics...

Thanks for the response admin!

I'm not sure if I can provide most of the answers to your questions, as I'm a bit green here... but I'll try.

The humidifier is installed on the return side. The humidistat is on the return side and is roughly 12" above the humidifier. The bypass is open (set to winter).

The model of the furnace is a 90UGFA3-79-6.

As for the wiring...I'm not sure how to respond.

Cheers!

Offline Admin

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2363
    • HVAC TECH GROUP
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2015, 02:35:11 PM »
That's a single stage furnace so my wiring comments would not apply.

It looks like a second saddle valve has been added to the hot side of the water heater.  Generally using hot water is more efficient but a copper water line should be used instead of plastic.  I notice some humidifiers are now being shipped with a thicker plastic tube for use with hot water, but you likely have the thinner tubing.  There's also a concern with using hot water as it may contain bacteria.  Usually I would only use hot water if the water heater temperature was at least 140F to kill any bacteria.  It doesn't look like you have a mixing valve installed, which reduces the hot water temp to a safe 120F at the taps, and I wouldn't increase the water heater temperature above 120F without one.

The fact that a new saddle valve has been installed could mean there is hard water that is plugging up the water valve and reducing the amount of water getting to the pad.  Have you removed the water line from the pad to see what the flow lools like?  If it's dripping out that could be the problem.  You want a steady flow of water.  I find saddle valves can be problematic.  I prefer to use a proper 1/4" water valve that would be soldered into place. 

An Aprilaire 600 should be able to maintain 40% RH in a 2400 sq ft home, and the installation looks correct.  Do you have an HRV that could be running all the time?

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2015, 04:40:51 PM »
Thanks for your response again.

The second saddle valve that you see in that pic was from the first humidifier that was initially installed in our home before it was replaced with the Aprilaire. I would agree that the water coming out of there is very hard.

I had a look at the flow and I believe it's a steady stream but will take a look again and will advise.

I do not have an HRV running.

Question... Is there a way to wire the humidifier so that it turns on when it detects that the humidity level from the humidistat is low and runs even if the furnace isn't on? This way, the water flow to the pad would keep it wet. Thoughts?

Cheers!


Offline walker

  • Pro Tech™
  • *****
  • Posts: 552
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2015, 05:22:40 PM »
you could also wire the humidifier to work with the fan on operation and just run your fan all of the time, the humidifier will shut off when it reaches set point, or if you have a tstat that has a circulation mode it would run whenever the fan is running.  I did this for a customer last week he was having the same issues as you. 

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2015, 05:54:21 PM »
Thanks for the response walker, especially during the Super Bowl.

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2015, 06:11:48 PM »
I don't think my thermostat has a circulation mode, but I can switch the fan from auto to manual mode. Hmm...

Offline Admin

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2363
    • HVAC TECH GROUP
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2015, 07:52:53 PM »
Leave the thermostat fan set to ON instead of AUTO so the fan runs continuously.  Then figure out where the 2 wires from the humidifier are connected to in the furnace.  They may be connected to a transformer, or W and C on the furnace control board.
 
Connect one wire to R and one wire to C to power the humidistat with constant power. 

Now if the humidistat is turned on the solenoid will open and the furnace fan should distribute humidity even if when the furnace is not heating.

Also if you don't have a steady stream of water flowing into the top of the pad, try closing the saddle valve completely, then open it while you are watching the water line and try to open it to a position that improves water flow.  The water line will pull out of the top of the tray holding the pad in place.  Remove the tray and pad and push the water line into the drain line so you can get a better look at the water flow.

The following is found in the Aprilaire manual,

Quote
The correct water flow is determined by an orifice equipped with each drain type unit. When the unit is operating, there will be a small, steady stream of water to drain, which flushes away most of the trouble-causing minerals. Do not use the saddle valve to regulate the water flow. It is designed to be completely opened or closed.

Offline Porcupinepuffer

  • Pro Tech™
  • *****
  • Posts: 457
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2015, 03:47:38 PM »
Since it's a flow through humidifier. Did you check the larger drain tubing leaving the humidifier to confirm that water is draining from it when it's running? So you know you're getting as much water out of it as possible? You don't want water spewing out, but a decent paced trickle is what we try and give... Obviously the valve starts to block up over time and needs throttling.

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2015, 09:39:09 AM »
Leave the thermostat fan set to ON instead of AUTO so the fan runs continuously.  Then figure out where the 2 wires from the humidifier are connected to in the furnace.  They may be connected to a transformer, or W and C on the furnace control board.
 
Connect one wire to R and one wire to C to power the humidistat with constant power. 

Now if the humidistat is turned on the solenoid will open and the furnace fan should distribute humidity even if when the furnace is not heating.

Also if you don't have a steady stream of water flowing into the top of the pad, try closing the saddle valve completely, then open it while you are watching the water line and try to open it to a position that improves water flow.  The water line will pull out of the top of the tray holding the pad in place.  Remove the tray and push the water line into the drain line so you can get a better look at the water flow.

The following is found in the Aprilaire manual,

Quote
The correct water flow is determined by an orifice equipped with each drain type unit. When the unit is operating, there will be a small, steady stream of water to drain, which flushes away most of the trouble-causing minerals. Do not use the saddle valve to regulate the water flow. It is designed to be completely opened or closed.

Thanks Admin. I've finally had a chance to switch the wires and the humidifier now turns on when the fan is on.

A couple of questions. Is it safe to have the fan turned on all of the time, or should I turn it back to,auto when I'm not at home?

As for the water, it's a constant drip from the waterline into the humidifier but not a steady stream. I have turned the water valve off and back on again, but it's still a drip vs stream. Is this an issue?

Cheers!

Offline walker

  • Pro Tech™
  • *****
  • Posts: 552
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2015, 09:40:54 AM »
Your solenoid is probably clogged up, very common problem on that model.

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2015, 09:55:59 AM »
Since it's a flow through humidifier. Did you check the larger drain tubing leaving the humidifier to confirm that water is draining from it when it's running? So you know you're getting as much water out of it as possible? You don't want water spewing out, but a decent paced trickle is what we try and give... Obviously the valve starts to block up over time and needs throttling.

Thanks Porcupinepuffer. As I had mentioned above I have tried to throttle the waterline but I seem to only be getting  constant drip vs a stream of water.

Any suggestions / recommendations would be appreciated.

Cheers!

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2015, 10:00:55 AM »
Your solenoid is probably clogged up, very common problem on that model.

Thanks walker.

I'll clean it out again and will see.  Argh!!!

Is there a better solenoid out there that can alleviate this common problem?

Cheers!

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2015, 10:27:03 AM »
Ok. So I just cleaned out the solenoid and decided this time to remove the black little plastic filter/stopper to see if it improves the flow. So far, I now have a steady stream. I'll keep monitoring and will advise.

Cheers!

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2015, 12:50:27 PM »
Argh!!!  Looks like the solenoid has to be replaced as its trickling water again.

Anyone know where I can find a replacement solenoid valve in Mississauga? Would Home Depot carry this? Does it have to be an Aprilaire solenoid or can I use another brand?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Cheers!

Offline Porcupinepuffer

  • Pro Tech™
  • *****
  • Posts: 457
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2015, 01:25:57 PM »
I know Rona has them. You can use just about any made for humidifers. They all rely on the same 24vac, give or take some different amp ratings. I throw plenty of good working ones straight into the garbage... You can order from Amazon, or ebay, too.

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2015, 01:37:01 PM »
I know Rona has them. You can use just about any made for humidifers. They all rely on the same 24vac, give or take some different amp ratings. I throw plenty of good working ones straight into the garbage... You can order from Amazon, or ebay, too.

Thanks for the response. I'll give them a try.

Cheers!

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2015, 05:39:31 PM »
So I went to Rona and they only had an Airking solenoid which looked pretty cheap.

I'll keep looking online for a replacement but I would prefer to walk into a shop and buy over the counter. Again, any suggestions on where to purchase in the Mississauga area would be appreciated.

Cheers!

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2015, 09:53:33 AM »
Just tried Home Depot and Canadian Tire...no luck.

Why is this a difficult part to find at a store location? ...and why is it so pricy? Some online sites are charging over $100. At that price I can replace the whole system.

Offline walker

  • Pro Tech™
  • *****
  • Posts: 552
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2015, 09:55:04 AM »
retail mark up, at a wholesaler that solenoid still costs $30-45.

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2015, 10:16:34 AM »
retail mark up, at a wholesaler that solenoid still costs $30-45.

Thanks Walker.

I found an online site that carries the Generalaire ga4040 solenoid which also fits AprilAire for around $38 + 10 shipping. Again, I would prefer to walk into a shop and buy over the counter. I guess my options are limited and will have to go the online route.

Cheers!

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2015, 11:42:37 AM »
Hi everyone.

Thought I would provide a follow up to this thread.

I received the replacement solenoid which I purchased online. Installed it and water is now flowing through perfectly...plus humidity is starting to increase in our home.

One thing I noticed though, is that there is a lot of gunk coming out of the humidifier exhaust hose. I'm not sure if this is caused by the pad (which was replaced this season) or if this is coming from the water heater???

Offline walker

  • Pro Tech™
  • *****
  • Posts: 552
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #24 on: February 21, 2015, 11:43:37 AM »
It's coming off of the new hum pad.

Offline radar2000

  • ***
  • Posts: 17
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2015, 11:53:12 AM »
Ah... Thanks walker.

Cheers!

Offline newf22

  • 313D Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 7
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #26 on: February 24, 2015, 08:15:00 PM »
My home is an older. Home, poor insulationand no vapour barrier ,.,,, was very dry. I installed a aprilaire 500 last year and it did not bring the humidity up much..... So this year I added a aprilaire 600 as well as the 500 and that solved the lack of humidity issue, .... Just a case of an older home being too drafts for a small humidifier to keep up the humidity. 8..

Offline Admin

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 2363
    • HVAC TECH GROUP
Re: Can't get humidity to increase in house - Help!
« Reply #27 on: April 20, 2015, 03:41:36 PM »
Quote
Thanks Admin. I've finally had a chance to switch the wires and the humidifier now turns on when the fan is on.

A couple of questions. Is it safe to have the fan turned on all of the time, or should I turn it back to,auto when I'm not at home?

Sorry, I missed this.

It sounds like you solved the water flow problem so I would consider rewiring the humidifier to the W terminal instead of R, so the humidistat is only powered when the furnace is heating.

To answer your question, it's safe to leave the fan running continuously, but it would add at least $20 of hydro usage to your monthly bill.  The problem is if you turn the fan off but leave the humidistat turned on, the humidifier solenoid could open and act like and open faucet, which would increase your water bill.  Usually if we want the humidifier to run anytime the fan runs we would use an Aprilaire #50 current sensing relay or a transformer wired to the ACC 120V terminal on the furnace control board.  If you have 6 thermostat wires you could install a NEST thermostat and use it to control the humidifier.  Then you can program a fan schedule and setup the humidifier to run with heat or without.  It will even start the fan itself.

I think now that you have improved the water flow you can rewire the humidifier to run with heating.  A 600M should be able to keep up.