Humidifier Leaks: Their Causes and Solutions 0

Posted on 20, March 2013

in Category Articles


Humidifier leaks are a common but avoidable problem with older-model humidifiers. Homeowners here in Nashville, Murfreesboro, Tullahoma and surrounding areas often report leakage, especially if their units haven’t had proper preventive maintenance. There are many sources of leaks inside these units, such as parts that are overdue for cleaning or replacement.

How should the whole-house humidifier function?

Humidification units are designed to keep the house at a comfortable relative humidity level. With the air always at a happy medium, never too humid or too dry, allergy problems are reduced and damage to wooden furniture, musical instruments or even your home’s structure can be avoided. Whole-house units are integrated into your overall home comfort system and work automatically, requiring little attention compared to portable units.

The whole home humidifier works seamlessly as part of your central air conditioning and heating system. The humidistat measures and monitors humidity in your home’s air. When it senses that your home environment is too dry in winter, for example, the unit begins the process to add moisture to the air. With the furnace running, a valve called the solenoid opens. The solenoid contains a current-carrying coil of wire that becomes magnetized as electric current passes through it, operating the valve. The open valve lets gravity direct fresh water over the water panel, also called the evaporator pad.

At this point, water is exposed to warm, dry air that’s being forced through the humidifier by your furnace’s blower. As the water begins to evaporate, the heating system will circulate moisture, or humidified air, through your house. When the evaporator pad is saturated, any extra water will flow out of the humidifier via the drain tube on the bottom of the humidifier equipment, unless there’s a problem…

Common causes of whole house humidifier leaks

Here’s a handy list of the main culprits that cause humidifier leaks and their solutions. This information doesn’t apply to humidifiers with pumps or water reservoir systems.

  • High water pressure – Pressure should remain below 125 psi to avoid leaks. Check the pressure and install a pressure reducer if needed.
  • Drain line backup – If the drain line doesn’t run on a slope to the drain, it can become air locked, causing a water backup in the drain line. Any dips or hills in the drain line’s path must be eliminated to prevent the problem. Clear out drain line backups by flushing with water. The water pressure should clear the blockage from the line. To prevent this issue entirely, consider having the drain line replaced annually.
  • Evaporator panel or scale control insert – Water panel evaporators can become clogged with scale and debris over time. This may in turn block the scale control insert and drain opening, causing a leak. The scale control insert should be cleaned and the water panel may need to be replaced.
  • Solenoid valve – Check that water flowing through the valve is in the proper direction, following with the directional arrow printed on the valve. Debris may become stuck between the valve’s plunger and its seat on the solenoid. This can keep it propped partially open, causing a valve leak. If you’re planning to investigate the problem on your own, first shut off the water supply at the saddle valve and turn off electric power. Next, run water, using light pressure, through the solenoid and/or blow air through it to clear it out. If the valve seat has been damaged, a new one may need to be installed.

The ideal cure is prevention

None of these problems have to happen. With regularly scheduled preventive maintenance provided by your local HVAC technician, leaks like these can be prevented. During your annual tune-up visits, your contractor will clean the humidifier to maintain its performance and note any impending problems.

As part of your annual inspection, worn or faulty parts can be caught and replaced or repaired early. A cost-effective yearly checkup may mean that you never have to deal with the inconvenience of water damage and cost of a leak.

If you have humidifier leaks or a breakdown, contact the experts at Roscoe Brown right away. We’d be happy to set up a regular inspection and maintenance schedule to help avoid any future problems. We’ve been serving homeowners throughout middle Tennessee for over 70 years.

Our services now include Plumbing and drain cleaning.  Click here for our Plumbing Services.

 

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