Maintaining a Whole-house Humidifier

Intro

Inspect your humidifier's evaporative elements once a month during the heating season and replace them at least yearly. The evaporative elements will pick up minerals from the water, and their constant exposure to hot air will dry them, reducing their capacity to absorb and hold water.

Drip-style humidifiers require less cleaning because the flow of water over their surfaces helps prevent mineral deposits and mold from forming. Drum-style units need more attention because the drum is more likely to develop mold. If the evaporative element is serviceable and not caked with minerals, you can wash it in a mild dish-soap solution. Rinse it well and replace it.

Prestart Checklist

Time
About a half-hour or less to replace the evaporative unit, more if scale cleaning is required

Tools
Wrenches, screwdriver, old kitchen knife

Skills
Removing access plate, replacing simple evaporative units

Prep
Turn off furnace power and humidifier water supply

Materials
Replacement evaporator units, pipe cleaner

Maintaining a evaporative disc humidifier: Step 1

Loosen the retaining nuts or remove the clips holding the humidifier cover and remove the cover. Lift the disc assembly by grasping the housing on both sides. You may have to jockey it a bit to remove it.

Maintaining a evaporative disc humidifier: Step 2

Drain any existing sediment from the basin and soak the disk wheel in vinegar or a cleaning solution approved for plastic. Rinse the disk wheel.

Maintaining a evaporative disc humidifier: Step 3

The float assembly should be adjusted so that the water just covers the submerged discs. Don't lift the installed float against the stop, or damage to the float seal can occur. Secure the float adjustment nut with a 9/16" wrench.

Maintaining a evaporative disc humidifier: Step 4

Using the tabs as indicators, lower the disk wheel into the V-guides on the inlet and motor plates. Make sure that the inlet end of the axle is seated in the bearing at the bottom of the V-guide and that the gear on the other end of the axle is engaged with the motor gear.

Maintaining a evaporative disc humidifier: Step 5

Connect the plastic water line to the valve and float. Use the plastic compression fitting and insert on the valve end of the plastic line and insert the brass expander in the float end. Tighten both fittings securely.

Maintaining a humidifier with evaporator elements or plates: Step 1

To remove an evaporator element, slide your fingers under the unit and lift it out. If it's heavily scaled, pry it out gently with an old kitchen knife. Be careful, as hardened mineral scales can be sharp. Remove the distribution tray if present.

Maintaining a humidifier with evaporator elements or plates: Step 2

Clean any mineral scale or deposits from the distribution tray with an old kitchen knife or flat-tip screwdriver.

Maintaining a humidifier with evaporator elements or plates: Step 3

Twist the evaporator element gently to pop off any mineral scales and wash it to remove loose particles. If the element crumbles, it's time for a new one. The same holds true for evaporative plates.

Maintaining a humidifier with evaporator elements or plates: Step 4

Disconnect the drain hose and run a pipe cleaner up and down in the humidifier orifice to clean it. Flush the drain hose with water and reinstall.


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