email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Wiring and Cabling, Part 2

Last time I mentioned the (eventually) successful connection of the new HDTV and video components to the old stereo system (with the fancy new tuner).  It's working great, even though it means I have 4 remote controls to deal with (5, if you count the "grampa remote" with the big buttons and few features).

The other wiring issue is only electric wiring, and not successful, and I am VERY frustrated.  Some background...  When I retired 8 years ago, I got tired of static electricity in Winter (I could half-turn-on fluorescent lamps just by touching them and stroking the cats caused sparks.  Taking clothes out of the dryer was actually painful) and bought a whole house humidifier.  The brand was Skuttle, and it had a cabinet attached to an opening cut in the main heater output duct.  In the cabinet was a tray of water and a sponge cylinder rotated through the tray of water whenever the heater blower was on.

I bought it locally and had it installed.  It worked great!  No static.  But a problem with the cylinder/drum humidifiers is that they get "gunky" (mold or something).  So when the sponge on the drum couldn't be cleaned anymore (yes I was too stupid/cheap/witless to just buy a new sponge drum), I did some research and found a different kind of humidifier. 

The new one had a honeycomb where water dribbled over the top and air blew through it to add humidity.  It had good ratings.  I installed it myself, but I needed an electrician to come by for a wiring problem I couldn't figure out (an outside humidity detector that adjusted the inside settings to the outside humidity - turned out it was a feature my model didn't have), but he did finish the basic wiring for me since I had paid for a visit).  But it has NEVER worked well in 3 Winters.  I couldn't get the inside humidity above 23%.  The drum type got it up to 35%.  At least there wasn't any static shock...

I should mention that I have a heat pump.  There are good and bad things about heat pumps, but one bad thing is that they dehumidify the inside air as part of the way they work.  Great in Summer, but not so great in Winter.  In Winter, I am fighting the design of the heat pump to dehumidify with a humidifier to improve that.  The condensation-collection container that pumps the collected water into the laundry tub works overtime in Winter.

So I decided to go back to the drum type.  I couldn't find a local retailer/installer, but I found a decent Skuttle brand of the same drum type on Amazon at a great price.

It arrived.  The required duct cutout was smaller than the current Honeywell honeycomb humidifier cutout, so I had to buy some sheet metal, cut a new smaller opening, and attach the sheet metal to cover the older larger hole.  Awkward tin-snip work and getting sheet metal screws holes drilled (never really easy work), but it only took 45 minutes (professional: 10 minutes; me, 45), and I covered all the edges with duct tapes.

I got the water tray and drum installed, attached the water supply, and adjusted the float that controls the water level in the tray (much like a toilet float that keeps the upper reservoir from overflowing).

The last thing was to attach the wiring that makes the drum turn when the heater is on. 

BUSTED!  I can't make any sense of the (undetailed and simple) diagrams in the installation manual.  I've stared at the unit and the instructions 4 separate times over the past 3 days.  As far as I can tell (and admittedly, electricity is NOT my favorite stuff to deal with), the diagram instructions are not only incomplete, but also completely wrong.

For example, electric wires are usually color-coded.  Red for positive, black for neutral.  Not these, they are both black!  Sometimes, electrical wires that are joined (like on a lamp cord) have one side that is smooth and the other ribbed for identification.  Not these.  The system uses a transformer that reduces standard 120 volt A/C current to 24 volt current to power the tiny motor that turn the sponge drum in the water tray. 

And they refer to "enclosing the transformer in the metal box" (for safety I assume).  No metal box, or any place to attach the transformer on the humidifier cabinet.  But there IS a 1" threaded pipe with a nut on it for attaching to SOMETHING. 

It is all quite maddening.  The Skuttle website provides absolutely NO information about installations.  There is a email address for "customer service".  I'll try that in a few minutes, but I don't expect it will be useful.  I'll probably have to hire an electrician to come by and try to figure it out.  Which probably means I could have just bought some other brand (of the same drum type) locally and had it installed at the same total price without any work on my part.

I am so completely annoyed I can't figure this out.  It possible the wiring choices don't really matter.  Immean, if I hook it up one way, the drum rotates clockwise and the other way it rotates counterclockwise and makes no difference.  But it could mean I burn out the whole motor unit.  I don't know enough to tell. 

If anyone who reads this has any guidance about the wiring, PLEASE leave a comment.  I hate to say it, but in my 60s, I'm starting to lose my willingness/ability to "just try it and see what happens"...


Megan said...

Sorry Mark - way beyond my capabilities. And I think when it comes to electricity, age has no bearing. It's rarely safe to just try it and see what happens! lOL

Sydney, Australia

The Cat From Hell said...

I would be banging my head on the wall...