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Whole-house humidifier
#2448847 08/08/15 05:31 PM
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I am building a 400-square foot piano/music practice studio, which will have forced-air heating and air conditioning. I am looking at including a whole-house humidifier, and am wondering how well they work compared to a portable humidifier.
It is a one-room building, (with a basement for my office, etc.) and in our area we have cold winters and dry summers, so I need to control the humidity through both heating and air-conditioning seasons.
Does anyone have any suggestions as to what type of built-in humidifiers I might look at, or any idea as to how closely they allow you to control the humidity, i.e. what sort of range? I have found that keeping my humidity close to 40% works well here without causing too much window condensation in the winter.
Or am I better to stick with my Air-O-Swiss portable humidifier, which does a good job of keeping room humidity within the desired range (but of course requires daily maintenance).
Thanks for any input.

Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2448869 08/08/15 07:06 PM
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My experience with whole house humidifiers (that connect directly to the furnace ductwork) is that they tend to fill up with crap out of the water really fast. Since they are humidifying the whole house they can go through a lot of water in a hurry when it's cold outside if you are using a forced air furnace and the hardness or minerals in the water will start gumming up the water wheel in a hurry. So plan to take the humidifier apart at least once a week and maybe twice a week to wash it out and clean out the crap.

You might be better off with a hot water system instead of a forced air furnace. It costs quite a bit more to have one of those installed (boilers cost a lot more than a furnace and radiators are not cheap either) but the operating cost is substantially lower and you don't lose your humidity as much in the winter as you do with a forced air furnace. You also get a much more even heat with a hot water system -- forced air blows heat until it's too hot, then it stops blowing until it's too cold and then does it again. Hot water radiators just maintain the heat that you set on the thermostat, and there are no drafts either.


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Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2448871 08/08/15 07:12 PM
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For such a small area, I think I'd stick with the whole-room, single humidifier.

A humidifier system installed in the supply air plenum of a central HVAC duct system usually runs only when the HVAC system calls for heating or cooling, in conjunction with the setting of the humidistat; they work well, but only when the HVAC system is on, and may have some swings in RH.

The HVAC system could be wired to allow the indoor fan to run constantly, thus allowing the humidity control system to operate continuously.

The whole-room humidifier is dedicated to a singe job of maintaining a set RH where the pianos are located. That may be a less expensive method of controlling the RH in your music room.

Just my .02. smile

Rick


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Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2448879 08/08/15 07:39 PM
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Many string players with antique instruments (full of repaired cracks that need to be kept stable) swear by the Venta room humidifiers, which are supposed to be easy to clean.

https://www.venta-airwasher.com/products/lw45.html

Some of us are running the central AC right now until the meter spins like a top, still have 50% RH, and can't relate to dryness. 😀


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Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2448882 08/08/15 07:43 PM
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I have a Honeywell whole house humidifier for my home and it seems to do the trick. I've had it since March and have had no problems so far.


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Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2448889 08/08/15 08:27 PM
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I have used whole-house humidifiers because I want the whole house at a decent RH. The fact that it keeps my piano room in better form is a nice extra. I have never had to worry about my humidifiers in the way Frank Cox mentioned. We don't have extra hard water. I have my HVAC system maintained twice per year (before winter kicks in and before summer gets going). That's all I have needed.

Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2448893 08/08/15 09:18 PM
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I live in Michigan, and my whole house humidifier does a great job keeping the the house between 40 and 50% throughout the year. It does not employ the "wheel" method mentioned in an earlier post, and requires filter replacement only once per year. The only minor issue is that when the temperature is in the 20s or below, I need to lower the humidity to around 30-35% or some windows will ice-up around the edges. I do have some thermal windows that don't get icy.

Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2448895 08/08/15 09:24 PM
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Good responses so far, thanks.
Those of you who are running whole-house humidifiers, how narrow a range are you able to keep your humidity?
I'm not too worried about using gallons and gallons of water, since it is a small area and not a multi-room house. Plus, our water isn't particularly hard here.
I do want a humidifier that will work even when the heat isn't on, because we don't use any heat for several months in the summer, and it seems like the AC is going to dry out the air as well.

Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2448903 08/08/15 10:27 PM
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I have a Honeywell HCM 6009 humidifier and it keeps the range roughly from 40 to 45% in the winter. This is with the adjustable humidistat at the lower setting. The only drawback is when I am out for several days and it runs out of water. Overall it is a good, cost-effective solution.

Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2448982 08/09/15 07:14 AM
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Unless you live in the desert southwest, you want the AC to dry out the air in the summer. That way you don't need a separate DE-humidifier in the room in order to knock the humidity down into the sensible range.

I haven'r really tried to monitor the humidity precisely. In part, I'm not all that worried about RH movements as long as they're in an acceptable range. But I also have a Dampp-Chaser system on the piano itself. I'm confident that the combination of the DC plus whole house treatment, which I do primarily for comfort, is sufficient to keep the piano's environment stable enough. The fact that it only drops in tune maybe 25 cents in six months suggests that things are working reasonably well.

Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2449018 08/09/15 09:33 AM
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Do the Venta airwashers have a Hydrostat? Or are they self limiting? That is, when there's moisture in the air, they evaporate more slowly than when it's dry?

Kurt


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Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2449021 08/09/15 09:46 AM
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Just to clarify my original post, in my current music room, which has baseboard heat and a window-mounted AC, I have an Air-O-Swiss, which I think is a similar design to the Venta (it has rotating discs and a fan), you set the humidistat for the RH you want (in 5% increments from 35 up), and it only turns on when the RH gets below the target. It's worked fine for me, I can keep the RH at my piano within a few percent of my target. But, I use the humidifier year-round - excess humidity is never a problem here.
Since I'm building a new studio with a forced-air system, I'd like to go more upscale with a whole-house humidifier on the ducting system if it will do the job and I can eliminate the room humidifier. Not interested in a Dampp-Chaser - I had one before and wasn't that impressed with the way they worked. (Not meaning to start a discussion about the Dampp-Chaser, please).

Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2449142 08/09/15 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by EP
Good responses so far, thanks.
Those of you who are running whole-house humidifiers, how narrow a range are you able to keep your humidity?
I do want a humidifier that will work even when the heat isn't on, because we don't use any heat for several months in the summer, and it seems like the AC is going to dry out the air as well.


If you have central air flowing through your furnace ducts, the humidistat and humidifier are attached to both the AC and the heat, so your whole house humidifier will control the humidity within a couple percent throughout the year. So in general, compared with the outside air, it will "moisten" the house in the winter (when the outside humidity is very low) and dry it in the summer when the outside humidity is usually high.

Re: Whole-house humidifier
Sir Lurksalot #2449145 08/09/15 08:50 PM
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That's what I was hoping. Thanks.

Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2449592 08/11/15 03:17 PM
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We have been using the Honeywell TrueSteam whole house humidifier for several years. It does a great job of controlling the humidity, and it operates independently of the HVAC system so you do not have to have the heat going for it to work. We have very hard water in Kentucky, so our first model had some problem with calcification. Honeywell replaced it under warranty, and they now install a small 'reverse osmosis' device in hard water areas that essentially acts as a water softener for just the humidifier so there's no more problems with the hard water. The TrueSteam is more efficient than most humidifiers and uses up to 90% less water.

http://www.forwardthinking.honeywell.com/products/humidification/truesteam/truesteam_feature.html

Re: Whole-house humidifier
EP #2449635 08/11/15 05:22 PM
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That looks promising, thanks Monica.


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