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Emaderton3 02-10-2010 07:15 PM

beware humidity system?

I will preface this by saying I am not very knowledgable when it comes to HVAC and humidity systems. My wife and I recently bought a house that has a built-in humidity system which basically adds mist to the HVAC system so that it disperses throughout the house through the ducts. When we had the home inspected before we bought it, our home inspector recommended shutting off the humidity system. He said he would be concerned with having humidity build up in the duct work and become a breeding ground for mold and other things. Plus, our particular system filtered the water but did not sterilize it (I guess there are some systems in which the water first goes through a UV light to sterilize it). Months after we had moved in, we had routine check-up on our HVAC system, and I had mentioned those comments to the HVAC specialist. He said it really wasn't an issue, but he didn't understand why the house had a system in the first place. Our home is 10 years old, and we live in Nashville, TN, which is plenty humid during the summer. However, the winter is very dry, and we just had our first baby. She has been very congested and both of us have had very dry noses and throats. We did buy a portable humidifier for our bedroom which has helped all three of us. I am now debating whether to simply just turn the humidity system back on so the whole house is more comfortable. Is there a risk of duct work contamination if the humidity is kept at suggested levels (30-50%)? Will it become a breeding ground for things to grow if it is used normally? We would probably only need it in the winter. I would just hate to create a problem that would lead to expensive decontamination/cleaning of the duct work.


yuri 02-10-2010 07:47 PM

With due respect to knowledgeable home inspectors who have licenses, the rest of them can be uninformed hacks or out of work carpenters etc who know carpentry but not HVAC. There is very little licensing or qualifications for them. If it is a steam system it is fine as the mist is steam and does not need a $1000 reverse osmosis system to "purify" the water and as long as it is cleaned and setup properly cannot create mold etc. Water has to pool/stand before that happens. A qualified heating tech can check the spray etc and reassure you that it is okay. Try to keep the humidity at 40% or lower in your house or the windows will sweat etc. 30-40% is normal. Post some pics of the humidifer and we can tell you how it needs to be operated and maintained.

Dave Carney 02-10-2010 07:49 PM


Originally Posted by Emaderton3 (Post 397864)

Is there a risk of duct work contamination if the humidity is kept at suggested levels (30-50%)? Will it become a breeding ground for things to grow if it is used normally?

We've never had a problem, not one in 15 years of running one in the winter and keeping the humidity level <50%. Just clean it regularly.

Emaderton3 02-10-2010 08:18 PM

To be honest, I am not sure if it is a steam system. I did wiggle my way into the crawl space with the inspector. He showed me that the filters in the water lines to the humidity system were completely blocked up, so the system wasn't working anyway (we have separate HVAC systems for the upstairs and downstairs). Where would the system most likely be? I'm assuming it is down there since we don't have a basement. The control box is next to our thermostat with a simple dial. The brand name on it is Skuttle--does that give you any information as to what type of system it is?

yuri 02-10-2010 08:54 PM

No. Would need to see the unit and how and where it is installed. 95 % of the furnaces I work on are in basements, very few crawlspaces where I am.

beenthere 02-10-2010 11:52 PM

That inspector may or may not be well informed.

There are mister humidifiers that could cause all kinds of problems. They were installed on the return. And you could have the mister foul up and spray water. And it could cause mold.

So we need pics and or the brand and model number of the humidifiers you have.

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