Hi, I have a ~1969 Williamson furnace that came with the
house we bought 3 years ago. Now my wife asked me to check
the humidifier filter, because it says that you ought to
change it and clean the whole thing at the end of every
season. When I opened it today, it looked like it had never
been changed for the last 30 years, all corroded and crumbly
inside. So, now the question is, what to do?
(1) leave it alone, it will kinda work until the furnace
needs to be replaced anyway
(2) scrape some original parts off the web and clean it out
as good as possible
(3) replace the entire humidifier
(4) replace the entire furnace
I don't really want to do (1) because this thing is probably
full of legionellae or other airborne germs and stuff, which
is why I am considering (3). But will I get a humidifier that
even fits this whole setup?
The humidifier is a simple box at the side of the main inflow
airduct with a second duct forked from the main outflow. This
outflow-connected duct blows air through the humidifier filter
back into the inflow leg. The filter is constantly dripped
So, will I find the same kind of system to just drop in or
will it take major rework of the ducts and pipes?
If major work is needed, wouldn't it be better to change the
entire furnace+A/C system? (Yes the A/C element is part of
the system.) How much of the existing A/C stuff could be built
into a new system? I know that the A/C part had been redone
more recently so I want to avoid redoing it.
thanks for your advice,
Williamson..that old...jesus....its probably got a crack in the
exchanger....as thats the most common issue with them...get it checked,
then, get quotes...that tanks using more than its worth, and wiht a new 90%+
unit, you will see a huge savings.
One of the problems with humidifiers, is that they are a moist, warm
environment. Roughly the same temperature and moisture as inside human
lungs. So, the bacteria, mold, germs, etc. which grow there are very
compatible with human lungs.
Very seldom is a new humidifer a direct drop in replacement for the old one.
I have installed a bunch of the Aprilaire units, and like them. They have a
drain, so the water flows through and out. This helps prevent buildup of
minerals like you describe.
Installing a new humidifier will require cutting sheet metal, and reworking
the duct that runs from the hot side to the humidifier. But, it's well worth
the effort to keep that old humidifier from making you sick with 30 years of
accumulated microbes, fungus, etc. A heating guy with experience oughta be
able to replace the humidifier in an hour or two, including running a drain.
I figure the HO install procedure goes like this:
1. Purchase A/A at Home Depot.
2. Get home, and open box. Read parts list.
3. Another Trip to HD to buy an elbow and one length of 6 inch round.
4. Home to take old humidifier off furnace.
5. Can't find mounting screws on old hum.
6. Find mounting screws. Don't have a 1/4 nut driver. Back to HD to buy one.
Can't just buy one. But the set of five.
7. Back home to pull the cap head screws out.
8. Go to pull wires off old hum. Can't get them off, snip with toenail
shears from wife's medicine chest.
9. Can't find out how to get water line disconnected. Leave old unit
hanging by water line. Kinks line over top of beam.
10. New unit has a different size hole than old unit.
11. Slice finger while trying to bend sheet metal back to make hole bigger.
12. Trip to hospital.
13. Tetanus shot. Bandages. Blue Cross deductible $200 for hospital visits.
14. Back to try to mount new A/A. Find that hole still not big enough.
15. Back to HD to ask how to resize hole. Buy red, green, yellow, and
16. Cut hole larger. Use wrong template, and make hole too large.
17. Back to HD to ask what to do. Purchase two sheets of single wide
18. Home. Try to attach panning to side of furnace. Not magnetic. Get big
roll of duct tape out. Tape single wide panning to side of return duct.
19. Get template out again.
20. Magic marker location of A/A on new singlewide panning.
21. Cut duct tape to get panning off
22. Using red, green, and yellow shears, cut hole in singlewide panning.
23. Cut fingers on other hand on sharp panning edges.
24. Use new first aid kit from safety aisle at HD.
25. Get A/A cut into single wide panning, and tape panning to side of
furnace. Duct tape A/A to panning, too.
.<snip for brevity>
41. Duct tape works loose and A/A falls on cellar floor at 3 AM, causing
wife to call 911. Police with flashlights and guns drawn look in cellar, and
emerge wet up to their knees. No suspect found. But water line sheared and
cellar is flooded.
52. Wife leaves with installer she called the next morning, and is in
Did I leave anything out?
I appreciate the advice. I was thinking that I need to
watch that old exchanger. A total replacement might
really be in order.
However, I am taking issue with the tone of this. I come
from a household where things are being done, I fix my
own car and I can do things that are reasonably doable.
Yes, experience is always good and so are tools, but it's
not magic and normal people don't need to be made believe
they are idiots. As opposed to the auto repair lists and
newsgroup there's still a problem in the home repair group
as far as this constant lamenting about the magic
technician goes. I appreciate the facts, but I don't like
if it ends at "call your specialist" instead of the facts
just as I hate it when they say "go to your doctor" in
medical radio shows where they should tell people about
the facts. Let the facts speak and let people decide
whether they can do it or not, based on required tools and
Stormin Mormonn wrote:
Well, I've been offering my best advice for quite a while. And every time I
offer advice, I get slammed by a couple people who don't agree with my
policy. So, I've decided to killfile a bunch of people who disagree with me,
and keep on being polite.
Your reply should oughta be in your email inbox.
No...its not magic, but the average homeowner that thinks a furnace
replacement is a simple process, is wrong.
First, Stormin is a hack. Meaning, hes more dangerous than a homeowner that
has no clue what he is doing. The average homeowner DOES take his personal
safety seriously, whereas Chris could give a damn less, and has no insurnace
in case he burns down your home.
When it comes to something like a furnace, I will never advocate that a non
licenced person install one....unless that person has the experence, and the
tools to do it properly. When we install a gas unit, there is much more
involved than just rip the old one out, and make the new one fit. Yesterday
was a prime example, as we replaced one that was a literal perfect
replacement fit. After it was in, all connections made, there was another 2
hours of set up involved, using tools that the average person does not have,
and while they can get them, then you have to know how to use them, and the
instruction manuals do not tell you where, and how to use them.
Is is magic? No. I have said for years that anyone can do this. But, not
everyone is willing to do it correctly. Everyone wants to take shortcuts.
Everyone wants to hurry up and get it running, and get the hell out. No so
with us. I would do it for free if I could...and many times do.
The reason that many including myself say to call a professional is for
The most common being that no one other than you knows what you can do, and
can do safely. Those of us that work in the field see things every day that
make you just shake your head and wonder how that person survived...or didnt
manage to kill someone. We also have the credentials and authority (at least
in this state) to shut the units down, lock them out and allow the homeowner
to decide for himself if we, or anyone else is going to repair or replace a
dangerous unit. In some states, anyone can replace a heater...in mine,
anyone can make MINOR repairs as long as its not for profit, however,
replacement, or lock outs have to be done by licenced and insured persons.
Permits have to be pulled and inspections have to be made. IF the homeowner
wants to replace his unit, or install one, as in the case of a new home, or
even an older one with existing, the homeowner must take the same test and
pass it that anyone that wants to work in the field does. It is NOT easy, it
is not easy even for someone thats been in the trade for years. Three parts,
400 questions, 3 hours. Most are calculations, some are calculations you
will never use, and some are the most basic of questions. Even the
homeowners must take the business part of the exam and pass. Fail one
section, law, code and application, and biz, and you fail the entire exam.
In all fairness, we also see alot of so called pros. We see things that
licened and insured persons do that scare the hell out of us. There is good
and bad in every area. Same with homeowners. You have some that could
probably run circles around most pros, and then you have some that think
they could and some that know they cant. However, you and I both know that
everyone, including myself, can make mistakes....the difference is how large
a mistake will it be, and who will get hurt because of it.
And finally, yes..I harrass Chris. I will continue to do so until his advice
stops being dangerous. He is non licenced, holds no professional titles, has
no insurance, has no bond, and has no clue. He recently started his own
little Yahoo moderated hvac group, and its a joke due to the fact that he
will not take even the slightest bit of critisism seriously. When he is
proven dead wrong, he simply ignores you, and unless you pat him on the head
and thank him for such a good job, he does not want to hear it. He is a
danger to anyone that follows his advice, and himself. Take any advice you
think he has given with a grain of salt, and double check with someone that
has half a clue before doing anything he says. There are times he is
repeating good advice given in the past, but if you press him to explain
why, or the ins and outs of it, he starts to wander, and will stop replying
to the thread....its because he does not know.
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