Saturday, January 22, 2011

Humidifier installation on your furnace? What to watch out for.

It really amazes me how some (not all) tradespeople can be so incompetant at what they are supposed to be specializing in. The example in this case is a recent humidifier installation that we had done here at our home in Barrie. Up until now we had been using one of those portable humidifiers that you have to keep filling with water that has a noisy fan running regularly. So Heather decided it's time to get a decent humidifier installed on the furnace. After calling around various places here in Barrie she settled on one that seemed reasonable and were installing Trane humidifiers which we think (hope?) is a good brand.

After some initial scheduling delays these two rather young guys show up to install the humidifier. Ok, so this time we didn't get the old guy that's been doing it for 30 years and probably can install one in his sleep. So these kids start working away and I go and check on them every now and then. The first snafu we find out about is that they are unable to install the outdoor temperature thermostat that the sales guy told Heather was a good feature on this slightly more expensive model. The "kids" thought it wasn't really necessary until I told them we were paying extra for this feature. "Well, we don't have the wire to run the length to the outside wall, and there's all sorts of special conditions for where the thermostat can go." Give me a break.

So I tell them if they aren't going to install it then either they come back another time to do so or we get a break on the price since we're not getting what we were sold. They said no problem we'll work it out. So this issue has yet to be resolved. The sales guy is supposed to call us this week to make the adjustment.

The kids finish up the install which seemed to go ok. I got them to re-route the drain hose along a better path to the floor drain. They did a quick test and things seemed ok. So we signed the invoice with a note about the outdoor thermostate not being installed and off they went.

Shortly after they left it dawned on me that they hooked the power for the water solenoid valve directly to the AC power coming into the furnace. DOH!! This means the water will run continuously as long as the humidistat wants to humidify the house. No way José. Having had one of these installed properly at our previous residence I know that the water valve should only be open when the furnace is running. So I called them up and left a message for the guy saying it's not wired properly. Heather spoke to him later when I was out and he tried to give her a line about it being ok and it's supposed to be that way. Total bullshit.

Later I pulled out the installation instructions for the humidifier and sure enough it says to either hook the power to the accessory terminals on your furnace or to install a special current sensing relay. A quick look over the furnace wiring diagram shows there are humidifier terminals right on the furnace control board just for this purpose. 

I cringe to think of all the poor customers these guys have installed for whose hot water is running straight down the drain while their furnace is sitting idle. What a waste of money.

So if you have a humidifier on your furnace you can do this simple test. When the furnace is not running turn your humdistat all the way up and then go to the furnace a watch the water drain line at the bottom of the humidifier. If water starts trickling down the drain hose then your humidifier is not wired correctly. You can probably save a lot of money on your water bills (even more if the humidifier is connected to a hot water line) by having someone that knows what they're doing come and change the wiring that powers your humidifier.

I'll let you know how it goes with trying to settle these outstanding issues with our installer. If you're in the Barrie area and want to know which company not to call for furnace work contact me and I'll tell you who these not so competent installers work for.