We are about half way through the winter months and one problem I see frequently is, problems with the humidification system.
Because these systems are attached to the furnace, they are out of sight and out of mind. However, when they are not working, the air in the house will become dry and can cause issues with your home, and its contents. Some folks suffer with minor health issues too.
Look for where the humidifier is attached to the furnace, for the following problems.
- Make sure the system has been turned on! The water supply to the unit usually consists of a copper feed line with a saddle valve. The valve has a handle on the top, which needs to be opened to supply the unit with a constant supply of water.
- Inside the unit, there is a water panel. This has water passing over it / through it and provides moisture the to furnace, putting warm, moist air into your home. There is on most units, a fan which, when the panels are full of deposits, will function inefficiently, and sometimes not be able to push air through the panel into your furnace at all. At a minimum these panels should be changed out at the beginning of the heating season, (when the furnace is tuned up). Some folks need to change panels again in the middle of the season depending on the amount of deposits on their panels.
- Water panels full of deposits can cause the unit to leak water out of the humidifier onto/into the furnace. If water comes in contact with the electronics, it is quite possible to fry the circuit board, and / or bearings on the blower or inducer motors. So a quick look from time to time to make sure there is no leaking going on, can save you from costly repairs.
- A quick way to know if water is getting to the humidifier is to: (While the furnace has been running a couple of minutes), check the plastic drain hose that is attached at the bottom of the humidifier. You should be able to see water draining through it. If no water is going though the drain tube—there is a problem. (Sometimes you can pinch it shut and then see water begin to back up).
- Drain lines can get fouled and cause water to back up and run out of the unit. These should be free of the gunk build up that so often happens during operation.
IF the system is operating efficiently, moisture provided by the system will keep the air in your home stable. Woodwork, floors, and furniture will not be drying out causing joints to open up and cracking in your floor joints & woodwork. (Especially important if you have musical instruments in the house, such as a piano, or guitars etc.)
That said, you don’t want too much moisture in the air either. This will condensate on the glass of your windows and can damage the sashes, or provide an opportunity for mold to develop. So if you see water on the bottoms of your windows, the system is likely set too high. Adjust it accordingly. Most have setting recommendations right on the units, (based on how cold the temp is outside). Newer units do all this automatically.
One nice easy way to see how much moisture is in the air is to have a humidistat. This can tell you at a glance how things are.
This is not a comprehensive list of what can go wrong, but of things I often see. You noticing early, can be the difference in a simple maintenance issue, or spending some real money on a costly repair.