(Mis)Adventures in DIY'ing: Whole House Humidifier.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ok then.  New year.  New quests.  Right?  Right!  Then let's get a-rollin' and right at it, my friends. Clap clap, pop a squat.

But a what now?  You installed a whole house humidifier?  On your own?  Did it yourself?  On your own furnace?  By yourself?

Why yes I did.  Well, lemme qualify a hair.  In the beginning, I received a remote hand.  At the very end, assistance was necessary.  Not my fault though.  I did everything correctly.  It wasn't me.  For reals, I swear.

But, I'm sharing this as likely you can install one too.  Hopefully with a lot less hassle and with the desired outcome.

All right.  A rollercoaster of a story here folks, hold onto your hats.  I tried to.

So I finally look at a recent gas bill.  Somehow we've used approximately a third more therms in December 2016 than we did in 2015.  Plus Mike is dried out like a big ginger raisin.  Hm.

I bet a humidifier on the furnace would help, I pondered quizzically.  I mean, duh, of course the flipper did not install one.  Duh.  That co$ts profit.

(I did contact Nest support about cycling again, fyi.  They don't have an option for it, for stretching out the cycles, but they suggested I try a schedule reset and dropping the daytime temp {brrr for me}.  That seems to have helped things be more at normal.  So, fyi.)

This contemplating then resulted in me perusing the Menards website.  Always trouble.  Always.  I came across the Honeywell HE240A Whole House Humidifier* on sale.  Yep, sale.  With a special rebate.  Bingo, gerbils a-rollin'.

Now, of course, it's me, I toiled over first a.) the decision to do it, b.) how to do it, c.) can I actually do this myself, and d.) two critical elements:  water and electricity.

First:  "Hey babe," I lead with, playin' it super chill.  Per usual Mike tenses, girds himself for the question; I loll, "hey uh, how about a whole house humidifier?'  I don't even get a glance anymore, just a rote "sure."  Huh.  Ok!

After reading what's required on my end for this thing, I tiptoe down into the creepy yucky utility closet cave.  Yuck.  Thankfully it is currently spider-free or we'd have a real problem.

Ahhhh, the glorious utility closet.  Ew.
All right, hot water heater which equates to a water line, check.  Thicker looking copper pipe?  Ehhhh, hm.  Concern.

Cold water into the heater line and the shut off.  
Furnace.  Where's the outlet where's the...oh, right, no outlet.  Light switch that goes to the furnace.  Only power in the room.  Uhhhhmmmm.  Hmmmm.  Dilemma.

Very bizarrely angled disorienting photo taken for a previous purpose but you can see the switch. 
Being annoyingly unwaveringly (say that three times fast) bound and determined....

After a smidge of conflicting research online, it sounds as if I can put an outlet in the same box with the switch.  Of course I don't try it -- as a rule, do not take wiring advice from online sources.**

Next, perusing Menards' website yet again, I came across a toggle switch with an outlet.*  Huh, I thought, problem solved.  Swap switch for switch/outlet combo.  Yes.  Easy peasy!

That is until I peered into the junction box.

This is the original existing wiring.  The hot water heater wires pass through; it's solely the furnace on this switch.
Time out here for a HUGE huge thank you to Diane, the rock star electrician for not only her tolerance of me interrupting her busy schedule but interrupting her in general; she provided phone and text assistance.

I did ask her if she'd be interested in the tiny switcharoo job wherein I would pay her but she didn't respond.  That was her way of saying, "too busy.  You can do this yourself oh padawan."**

In all honesty, when I opened the switch box, I didn't understand the wiring so I texted her mmm again.  She ever so kindly explained what to do and gave me a lesson on the existing two white wires tied together.

"If there's a fridge on that line {which holy crap, indeed, our fridge is on the same circuit as the furnace how did she know?!}, you will fry out that motor in seconds, instantly, no forgiveness, it's dead, done, you're screwed, hosed, no going back, if you don't wire it this [specific way that I will not reveal, sorry**]."

Um, yeah.  Not panicking at all over here now.  Nope, all good.  Not tinkling my pants over potentially destroying our great fridge in less than a flash, nope.  Cough.  Omg.

But, determined.  After dashing out to buy the combo switch and necessary wire, it's buck-up-buttercup go time.

Back home, I shut down the utility closet circuit, wire as Diane instructed, text her photos for approval before powering up.

Even if I showed you my wiring, yeah, no, not gonna happen.
While I was waiting, I meandered upstairs and noticed oh, the fridge is on.  Uhhhhh.  Huh.  I mislabeled the breaker.  How did I....?  ?!  ?  Well ok then.  Who cares!  Holy thank goodness, our fridge is not on the circuit with the furnace after all!!


Approval arrived, I flip the circuit, the outlet works (!!), the furnace runs, but the switch did not operate.  As I felt I far overreached my time allotment, I said thank you so terribly much Diane, no worries, I'll live without the switch.

Hm.  Bummed.  Pace, pace.

Because I never leave well enough alone, ahem....

I did then do what I just told you not to do, I uh, checked online for a wiring answer and found it.  So, now both the switch and outlet work and I am HUGELY proud of myself.  But again, do not take wiring advice from online.**  Do not do as I do, heh, do as I say!

So proud in fact though, I drag poor Mike all the way down there to show off our new switch/outlet combo.  He was suitably impressed (read:  didn't really care, didn't see the big deal but was proud of me anyway).  I am thoroughly indebted to Diane and her generosity.  She will be getting another bottle of wine for this.

Hey hey, lookie at that!!  OH yeah.  Fist pump!
Challenge one, complete!  A success!  Yay!  Butt wiggle dance.

Ok, so I go out and buy the humidifier thing, right?  Right.  Break a nail badly carrying it in.  I had nice gloves on, it was cold, it slipped.  Ouch!!  I feel a tremor in the force:  like uh, this entire scenario is going to go poorly from here on out, correct?

Open up the box and it's missing parts.  Ahhhhhh rats.  Mmm hmm, yep, figures, here we go.

I dial up Honeywell, get automated told we're too busy, hung up on the first time, and after a lengthy hold the second, was told that I have to exchange it for another one at the store.  Insert long closing of eyes here.

My Menards was fresh out.  Stock is extremely low everywhere else.

At another location, I opened the box before leaving.  Missing the same parts plus others.  The service desk calls for assistance and the guy, Ernesto, and I open the remaining ones, four in total, including a larger model.  Missing all the same parts.

Seriously?  I'm having deeper reservations.

I convince him to let me keep the humidifier (he wanted to ship back all of them) and give me a piece of flexible duct.  He gave me a semi-rigid type* though, and despite my protestations that this would not make my turn, he claimed it was all he had (he lied as it was cheaper than what I needed).

It didn't work, the semi-rigid.  As I predicted.  I gave it back to the store later, much to Ernesto's shock.  You shoulda seen the look on his face, heh.

So finally, eventually I watch the installation video online.  A looong twenty two minute plus video.  It said, mm hm, it said it'd take a mere hour to install this thing, which, in the video, it sure seemed possibly true.

But, still missing parts, I had to run out again.  I needed the super flexible foil duct,* then had to run out again after watching the video and get tubing* and a duct starter collar.*

As you can imagine, I'm having oodles of fun recreating the missing parts, the added expense now totaling more than the humidifier's regular price, cursing Honeywell for not giving a rat's patootie.

This pile o' parts tallied thirty bucks!
So irritated in fact, I tweeted their support saying essentially hey, this isn't cool.  It seems the only way to get any kind of help or response these days is to tweet these companies.  Or, it's been the only way I've had any kind of success, I should say.

They responded, asked for my email address, said they'd email me and then they didn't.  So I sent another message, they said they were working on it and would let me know something later.  ??  (Turns out that's their standard "we acknowledge you wrote" insta-response.)


Meanwhile, I'm trying not to panic.  My hugest biggest scariest concern of all in this whole shebang?  That I have to hack three to four large holes in our ductwork.

What if this thing doesn't work at all?  Then I'm either stuck with it on there not working, out the money or stuck with a slew of gigantic gaping breezy holes that need to be plugged somehow if I return it.

Way ahead of myself there, surely, but terribly concerned nonetheless considering my luck on all things.  I forget too, it's Mercury retrograde as well.

After whew collecting the parts I'm missing, it's time to get to work.  Hoooo boy, yep.

I start by making sure the water thingie will pierce the pipe.  Because if not, hey, that's the end of this project and the humidifier gets returned.

Crank the water off to the water heater, drain the laundry sink a bit, screw on the gizmo, twist and yes, it worked.  Ok!  I'm feeling better.  Challenge number two, complete!  Success, yay!  All right!

Their lil' self-tapping water valve gizmo.  That they don't give proper assembly instructions for.
Honeywell recommends putting the humidifier on the supply side so next was the big hole.  The really big hole.  Right there on the supply duct.  The biggest scariest hole.  Big.  Hole.

I picked this spot after holding the unit up on the duct for best fit.  That's the enclosed hole template all taped up on there.  And I'm not sure why there's crusted water and green stuff dried up on the duct from the a/c.  I should probably be concerned.
I unpack the main part of the humidifier, open it up and what?!  What?!?!  Are you f'ing....??!  The missing parts?!  Why....what the....omg!  Really?  Wow.  Ok.

Look at that.  The parts that were missing.  I just realized the floor is painted dog vomit yellow in here.   Gah!  Nooo!
Is it too hard to put a little blurb right there in the directions, the included-parts-list, "hey we're sneaky and packed these items inside the humidifier itself, don't assume they're missing then run around town for hours trying to replace them, you'll find them hidden there?"  Guess so.  Wow.

Calmly I laid everything down, packed up my pile of substitute parts, brought them upstairs, bagged them, and dug out receipts.

Casually, I sat down at the computer, looked up that other Menards location's phone number, called and asked for Ernesto, the guy who helped me.  I tell him.  He gives a non-plussed semi-chuckle like oh-of-course-and-f'ing-figures-and-now-I-feel-like-an-idiot-too "thanks me for letting me know."

I then send a message to the Honeywell tweet thing saying I found them.  They were HIDDEN!  Ugh.  Omg.

Well then, all right.  Time to start installing the humidifier.  Take a deep breath and....

To be continued.......(see part two here)

*The humidifier, toggle switch/outlet, semi-rigid duct, foil duct, vinyl tubing, and starter collar are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.

**Disclaimer:  Electricity is dangerous.  It can hurt you.  It can kill you.  Bad wiring can destroy your home.  It's best to hire a qualified, licensed electrician if you don't know how to wire things.  But, if you are determined to learn, more power to you (ah, silly pun!).  There are lots of books and videos that will help you.  Start small with a lamp kit.  Do not blow your house up.  Mostly, absolutely do not do what I do; what you've seen here is for entertainment purposes only, mmk my friends?


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