Author Topic: Whole house humidifier - drainage options  (Read 976 times)

Sibley

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Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« on: January 27, 2022, 09:03:57 PM »
What are the appropriate ways of providing drainage for a whole house humidifier? I have a broken one and was thinking of getting it fixed, but the drain line is gone. There's no floor drain, and the sink drain is 15 feet away with no way of getting the water there. I don't know if there's another option. I could probably modify the condensate drainage for the A/C and tie into that (it runs out through the exterior wall), but not sure if that's ok.

Milspecstache

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2022, 05:20:01 AM »
I assume this is non-mobile, otherwise you would do what I do and park it on the sink to gravity drain.

The next solution would be to invest in a pump.  They sell them for a/c units as the heat exchangers are often placed in crawlspaces where there is no drainage option.  I don't like them as they can fail and make a mess but if you can't get gravity drainage then they are the next best option.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2022, 05:43:23 AM »
I doubt tying into the AC drain line would be a problem, especially if the line was solid pipe at that point. But that probably depends on a few factors like how big the pipe is, how much water each device produces, and how likely they are ever to be running at the same time.

As already mentioned you can get a condensate pump/lift pump. These will pump the water up so that they can enter an overhead pipe or if in a basement exit through the rim joist. Many of these have a small reservoir and pump it periodically, some also have an overfull sensor and in the even of a pump failure will prevent the appliance making water from running; you do have to run the power for the appliance through the pump for this to work. With this you could tie into a drain line or put a now one in to tie with the sink.

Perhaps the simplest solution, if the dehumidifiers location allows it, is to run a pipe through an exterior wall and simply drain to daylight.

Uturn

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2022, 06:51:26 AM »
Is there any way to pump it to a barrel and use the water for the garden? 

Sibley

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2022, 08:11:50 AM »
Yes, nonmobile. It's installed on top of the furnace.

The only place I could run a drain line over to the sink would be up through the ceiling. But it would be ugly coming back down to the sink. And given that I'm not good at drop ceilings and it looks like it could fall down, I'm leery of messing with the ceiling. If that's the only option, I'm not fixing the humidifier.

The AC drain line is pvc, I think it's an inch in diameter. I have no idea how much water the humidifier puts out, it's never worked since I bought the house. The AC is a trickle. I don't think they'd be running at the same time. I also don't know if there's any concerns with ice build up outside in the winter. The gutters do get iced up, but they're also dealing with snow melt.

The utility room is on a slab. Outside from this stuff is the AC unit, which is in a rock bed. Low traffic area of the yard.

lthenderson

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2022, 08:14:21 AM »
In every house I've lived in with a whole house humidifier, the drain has always been tied into the A/C drain. In one house it was a condensate pump that lifted it up and fed it to drain for a nearby washing machine. In this house, it is simply a hose that lies next to the A/C drain hose running to a nearby floor drain. The only problem I could see with the A/C line going to the outside would be that you might experience it freezing up on the outside during the winter time if you live in a cold winter climate. Since your A/C isn't running in the winter time, it probably was never an issue while whole house humidifiers are mostly used in the winters, at least where I live.

lthenderson

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2022, 08:19:16 AM »
I have no idea how much water the humidifier puts out, it's never worked since I bought the house. The AC is a trickle. I don't think they'd be running at the same time. I also don't know if there's any concerns with ice build up outside in the winter.

Ours puts out a slow trickle, much like what the AC unit does during the summer. That is why I would be concerned about ice buildup especially if the AC line doesn't have a lot of slope and protrudes a ways past your house's insulation envelope. When I was young and living on a farm with livestock, we often had problems with pipes plugging up with ice that had trickles of water running down them and opening to daylight. It was part of our daily chores to keep them unblocked and running freely.

Sibley

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2022, 08:24:22 AM »
I have no idea how much water the humidifier puts out, it's never worked since I bought the house. The AC is a trickle. I don't think they'd be running at the same time. I also don't know if there's any concerns with ice build up outside in the winter.

Ours puts out a slow trickle, much like what the AC unit does during the summer. That is why I would be concerned about ice buildup especially if the AC line doesn't have a lot of slope and protrudes a ways past your house's insulation envelope. When I was young and living on a farm with livestock, we often had problems with pipes plugging up with ice that had trickles of water running down them and opening to daylight. It was part of our daily chores to keep them unblocked and running freely.

Insulation? HAHA! Not a thing in that house.

I'm pretty sure the pipe has a slight slope, but not much. It extends 3-4 inches past the exterior siding. And I can assure you that I won't be checking to see if the pipe is clear of ice. This sounds like it won't work.

So, can I drain it into a bucket? I can be relied upon to empty a bucket.

lthenderson

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2022, 08:41:43 AM »
It is hard to say without just seeing a picture of the area and what is nearby but have you checked out your washing machine drain? How about your water heater? Is going across the floor (or around walls) to the sink drain versus up and over an option?

I wouldn't be in favor of a bucket because it isn't to code and someone would eventually forget and it would lead to water damage.

You could probably make the external AC drain line work with some heat flashing tape applied to the end sticking out from the house. I don't know the codes for doing this and have never seen it done so perhaps someone else on here could add something about that.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2022, 09:26:57 AM »
Yes, nonmobile. It's installed on top of the furnace.

The only place I could run a drain line over to the sink would be up through the ceiling. But it would be ugly coming back down to the sink. And given that I'm not good at drop ceilings and it looks like it could fall down, I'm leery of messing with the ceiling. If that's the only option, I'm not fixing the humidifier.

The AC drain line is pvc, I think it's an inch in diameter. I have no idea how much water the humidifier puts out, it's never worked since I bought the house. The AC is a trickle. I don't think they'd be running at the same time. I also don't know if there's any concerns with ice build up outside in the winter. The gutters do get iced up, but they're also dealing with snow melt.

The utility room is on a slab. Outside from this stuff is the AC unit, which is in a rock bed. Low traffic area of the yard.

I'm doing a good palmface for reading dehumidifier earlier.

1 inch should be more than enough for a humidifier, normally they are served by 1/4 supply line, even if the majority of the water is wasted there is still plenty of space in the drain line. Of note many of the whole house humidifiers waste a good percentage of the water they "consume" depending on climate and type of humidifier you could be looking at gallons a day.

Freezing could be a problem or it might not be if using the AC line. Too many factors to say.

One thing to consider, despite my warning that many dehumidifiers waste large amounts of water and not to use a bucket for those, there are some that produce no waste water. In fact, I have one and the drain line really only is for a failure scenario, given that it is in an unfinished basement, I have the hose in a 5 gallon bucket and have never seen a drop. In the worse case I get a little water on my concrete floor and I have to shop-vac it up and get it outside.

Sibley

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2022, 09:31:40 AM »
The washing machine drains into the utility sink, that's the only drain in the room. The water heater, if it leaks, will flood the room. There's no option to add a floor drain without doing major construction.

Going around the corner and along the wall to the sink you run into cabinets, before getting to the dryer and washer, then finally sink. There's no space to run behind it. Going in front of the cabinets means I'll be tripping on it, that is not a permanent option I'm willing to entertain. I could drill into the cabinet and run through the cabinets but then I'm messing with cabinet storage. Not sure if I want the humidifier working enough to mess with the cabinets.

I don't have access to the inside wall of the AC drain line - the water heater and furnace are blocking it. I only have access to the exterior, and given the weather that's not happening right now.

It sounds like my best option is to run through the back of the cabinets. Will have to think if I'm willing to do it.

Sibley

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2022, 09:36:45 AM »
Yes, nonmobile. It's installed on top of the furnace.

The only place I could run a drain line over to the sink would be up through the ceiling. But it would be ugly coming back down to the sink. And given that I'm not good at drop ceilings and it looks like it could fall down, I'm leery of messing with the ceiling. If that's the only option, I'm not fixing the humidifier.

The AC drain line is pvc, I think it's an inch in diameter. I have no idea how much water the humidifier puts out, it's never worked since I bought the house. The AC is a trickle. I don't think they'd be running at the same time. I also don't know if there's any concerns with ice build up outside in the winter. The gutters do get iced up, but they're also dealing with snow melt.

The utility room is on a slab. Outside from this stuff is the AC unit, which is in a rock bed. Low traffic area of the yard.

I'm doing a good palmface for reading dehumidifier earlier.

1 inch should be more than enough for a humidifier, normally they are served by 1/4 supply line, even if the majority of the water is wasted there is still plenty of space in the drain line. Of note many of the whole house humidifiers waste a good percentage of the water they "consume" depending on climate and type of humidifier you could be looking at gallons a day.

Freezing could be a problem or it might not be if using the AC line. Too many factors to say.

One thing to consider, despite my warning that many dehumidifiers waste large amounts of water and not to use a bucket for those, there are some that produce no waste water. In fact, I have one and the drain line really only is for a failure scenario, given that it is in an unfinished basement, I have the hose in a 5 gallon bucket and have never seen a drop. In the worse case I get a little water on my concrete floor and I have to shop-vac it up and get it outside.

LOL. No worries. I really don't know how much water might come out of that drain line if I use the humidifier. And it doesn't work right now, so can't test it.

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2022, 10:00:06 AM »
Aprilaire makes a water saving model that doesn't drain.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005J3J0EA/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

We have had one for 4 years and it works well. 

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2022, 10:42:47 AM »
Aprilaire makes a water saving model that doesn't drain.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005J3J0EA/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

We have had one for 4 years and it works well.

Other than the manual vs digital controller that looks like the exact model we have as well. It has worked well for several years.

When I installed it we were relying on forced hot air as our heating source, so I chose to plumb it with cold water and not give it control of the whole house fan. Since the air was hot and the heat running frequently its provided enough moisture. Now that we have transitioned from mostly oil forced hot air to pellet insert and heat pumps as the primary it does not get as much run time and I probably need to reconfigure it to use hot water and control the central fan.

lthenderson

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2022, 05:45:04 AM »
Aprilaire makes a water saving model that doesn't drain.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005J3J0EA/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

We have had one for 4 years and it works well.

Other than the manual vs digital controller that looks like the exact model we have as well. It has worked well for several years.

When I installed it we were relying on forced hot air as our heating source, so I chose to plumb it with cold water and not give it control of the whole house fan. Since the air was hot and the heat running frequently its provided enough moisture. Now that we have transitioned from mostly oil forced hot air to pellet insert and heat pumps as the primary it does not get as much run time and I probably need to reconfigure it to use hot water and control the central fan.

I have a Trane but for all intents and purposes, it could be that very same model linked above. Mine is tied into the forced air fan and keeps the humidity decent all winter long that way. I have it set somewhere around 40% though at most during the depth of winter like right now, the highest I've seen it get is around the mid 30%. It can crawl hire on cold snaps in early fall and late spring when outside humidity levels are much higher to start with. But my main reason for adding this comment is that it certainly isn't "waterless" in the wastewater department. I would suspect I lose 2 gallons a day out the overflow tube. Not staggering and nothing I am concerned about. So say if someone left on a 2 week vacation, that could be 28 gallons of water one might have to haul out in buckets. I suffered from bloody noses my entire life until I installed my whole house humidifier and haven't had one since so it has been well worth it.

Sibley

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2022, 02:32:40 PM »
Update: I'm arguing with myself if I want to drill holes in my brand new utility room cabinets to run a drain line through. I may argue with myself for a long time. However, eventually I'll do it, and either get the existing humidifier fixed or replaced, depending on whatever the hvac people say. (Yes, I am fully capable of arguing with myself while also knowing I'll eventually give in. The process needs to happen though.)

lthenderson

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2022, 08:38:13 AM »
Update: I'm arguing with myself if I want to drill holes in my brand new utility room cabinets to run a drain line through.

Rather than drill holes in brand new utility room cabinets, is it possible to unfasten them from the wall, fir it out with 2x materials so that you can run the drain pipe through that and then reattach the cabinets? Essentially you are moving the cabinets out another couple inches but then the pipe would be hidden and you wouldn't have holes all through your new cabinets.

Sibley

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2022, 09:01:31 AM »
Update: I'm arguing with myself if I want to drill holes in my brand new utility room cabinets to run a drain line through.

Rather than drill holes in brand new utility room cabinets, is it possible to unfasten them from the wall, fir it out with 2x materials so that you can run the drain pipe through that and then reattach the cabinets? Essentially you are moving the cabinets out another couple inches but then the pipe would be hidden and you wouldn't have holes all through your new cabinets.

I could, but it wouldn't be ideal for space issues. Plus I've done a ton of work in there in general to try to address the extremely poor design and homeowner's special plumbing, and it helped but still problematic. I don't want to do more. I'm just griping. There's already a gas pipe running through the back of the cabinet so one more isn't much of an issue.

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Re: Whole house humidifier - drainage options
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2022, 11:20:36 AM »
Where does your A/C condensate go?

The model I linked doesn't drain, but has a drain just incase the float switch fails. I ran the emergency drain to the AC condensate pump just in case. Your other option is to run the backup drain to a small bucket with a condensate overflow cutoff switch:

https://www.supplyhouse.com/Little-Giant-599122-ACS-2-Auxiliary-Condensate-Drain-Pan-Overflow-Shut-off-Switch-48-VAC-18-Leads?gclid=Cj0KCQiArt6PBhCoARIsAMF5waj2hpe31MKwWq-Y55yGkCqHAXJySplCK_kf5g65rCQIrrhgkr2MCAYaAljBEALw_wcB

There is a bit of room in the humidifier, you may be able to install the condensate overflow switch under the humidifier filter pan in the humidifier itself and plug the drain. If you hire it out, I'm sure your HVAC contractor can do it for you. A humidifier is pretty easy to install though...

 

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