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Discussion Starter #1
We are moving our furnace (and water heater) in preparation for finishing our basement. If there are any goodies we should tack on while we are paying for labor, please let me know.


I have been trolling the archives and found two good threads on dust control:

http://archive2.avsforum.com/avs-vb/...ight=aprilaire

http://archive2.avsforum.com/avs-vb/...ight=aprilaire


From this, it seems like a HEPA system DE recomends a Guardian unit with a link that wasn't working for me as best . This or This might be close to what Dennis was getting at.


Aprilaire has a combo electrostatic and media cleaner that garnered some praise (our installer likes Aprilaire). Link


Opinions vary in the archives whether these are a lot better than the paper filters in our unit already. I forget to change them, so I guess that is one plus.


Anything else we should consider tacking on? We are adding a whole house humidifier. The proposal will zone the house into basement (theater + playroom + bath) and rest of the house. The installer also quoted an alternative where each floor gets its own zone for about $1.5k more. The house is currently about 2000 sq ft (2 floors + basement), and the basement will add about 700 sq ft to the living area. I am debating that option too. I don't think we have room (space or budget) for secondary dedicated systems.


Are these filter systems per unit or per zone?


Thanks for any help.
 

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I don’t know a whole lot about how zoning systems work. Whether the system worked “per zone†or for the whole house would depend on whether it was updtream or downstream of the air split for the two systems. My guess would be that it would be per zone and that just treating the upstars would be adequate.


I would definitely recommend the shole-house humidified. Your sinuses, allergies, and skin will thank you throughout the winter. The woodwork in your house wil be happier as well. I paid ~$150 for mine and installed it myself in a couple hours – money well spent.


As for the filtration, I dislike the electrostatic air cleaners. They only work well (read: at all) when clean, and they need cleaned frequently (probably daily for best results). Most people have trouble remembering to change their media filter every 3 months, so daily cleaning is probably a bit much to ask.


A whole house HEPA filter is a very good thing, but most people balk at the cost. The Guardian model Dennis mentioned (google Guardian HEPA for many hits) is nice, and there are a couple of other brands out there that would also do the trick as well.
 

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Zoned HVAC is great. If (for example) you have the fire crackling in your bedroom fireplace, the heat will not come on in your bedroom, if/when the rest of the living quarters kick on.

It's incredible how hot a closed room, like a theater, can get when you add a half dozen people or more. Plus, it can help on energy savings.


As for the inline humidifier. Last year I sold a house, with a brand new humidifier and the buyer requested that we have it removed. Per her allergist; it can cause condensation which could lead to mold in the ductwork. :eek:


About a year ago, I saw a neat humidifier that was both decorative and functional. It was an in-wall fountain with an condensing unit.
 

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You will only require one filter at the furnace return duct connection.

Becareful an electrostatic filter might become dirty quickly , if you are using a bypass humidifier with hard water running through it.

The air filtraition will only work if the fan is on, so consider a programmable thermostat that will turn the fan on periodically. also great for providing air changes to bedrooms at night when the temperature has been setback and the furnace is off. Look for a smart fan option.

Make sure the new filter case where it connects to the ductwork is sealed so that all the air passes through it.

Make sure the zoning dampers actuators(motors) are installed in an accesible location.

The humidifier should have an outdoor reset controller, lowering the humidity setpoint as the outdoor temperature decreases reducing the chances of condensation and future mold problems.

Consider acoustically lined ductwork for the first 10-15 ft. supply and return.


Check out Honeywell IAQ thermostat and zoning system.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hmm, looks like the electrostatics might be less desireable. We are on town water/sewer, I don't think we have hard water, but I have never tested.


The humidifier with an outdoor reset controller is a great tip. We will ask for that. Seems like a good way to lessen mold risk.


Winkelman, I take it you sell homes. Do think people pay for a zoned system when they buy. I don't need to recover the full premium I'd pay for separate zones, but it be nice if we'd see some of it back. Moving the utilities is going to be a no-return item, as people don't really pay for fixing builder screwups IMO.


I looked at that IAQ system. Pretty neat. I am not sure my guy will be inclined to put that in since he favors what he knows. Been hard to get a quote, so might have to defer to that. Aprilaire seems to have some smarter thermostats, so I'll compare them.


If I go three zones he will be completely reworking the ducts in the basement, so accoustic lined ducts might work.


What does anyone think of the UV light systems. Gimmick or worth considering?


Thanks again,
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dc_pilgrim
Hmm, looks like the electrostatics might be less desireable. We are on town water/sewer, I don't think we have hard water, but I have never tested.
That's simple to test. Go wash your hands in the sink and use a bar of soap. If you can create a bunch of bubbles with very little soap and then it feels like the soap never completely washes off your hands, then you have soft water. If you can't make a bunch of bubbles and it feels like the soap is completely gone (quickly) when you rinse, then you have hard water. You can also tell you have really hard water if you get calcium deposits in your ice. You will see them when you put them in a glass of water. This is usually just when you are on well water like we are. But a water softener takes care of that.


Zoning is very nice to have, but you might not see the money back when you sell the house. It's a nice selling point, but people don't like to pay for extra things they don't need. You will see some of it in your utility bills if you have rooms that aren't used all the time. Like if you are a couple without kids in a 3 bedroom house, you can zone the other bedrooms and not have to heat and cool them all the time. Or if you have a theater and only watch movies 2 or 3 times in a month. So you save on the electric/gas bill.


A problem might arise where you only have one zone running often in a 3 zone house. If you have humid times of the year, then the HVAC system needs to run to dry out the air in the house. This will help prevent mold and mildew in the house. But when you only have one zone running, then it cools (or heats I guess) the zone quickly and doesn't have time to dehumidify the air. So you end up with mold problems. Sometimes it's good for a system to run for a while.


As for the electrostatic air cleaners, we have them installed in our HVAC units in our house and they work great. They only need to get cleaned 2 or 3 times a year. I use filters and the electrostatic air cleaners and have to clean them much less than that. If someone is cleaning them every day, then they must have a lot of dirt in the air.
 

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Well, we are a couple with a 14 month old. We'll have another at some point in the reasonably near future. My wife stays home, so we don't get the benefit off programing the thermostat down for significant periods of time. There could be benefits by prioritizing different levels at different times. Part of the appeal of zoning is that floors are very different in their tempature - particularly in the winter.


I'll test for hard water later to figure that out.


That's a good point about the system running effecting the overall humidity of the house. The HVAC guy felt that our unit is pretty close to its capacity w/o the finished basement. Although another guy who came (but never provided) to quote disagreed. If so, I would imagine my furnace (or AC) will see a good bit of use, especially if so (I think), if multiple places will be calling on the furnace to heat or cool the given zone.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winkelmann
Per her allergist; it can cause condensation which could lead to mold in the ductwork. :eek:
A potential problem if you let the humidity get really, really high, but unlikely in real circumstances (40-50% RH is comfortable to most people). I just relocated a bunch of my HVAC lines in the basement after 5 years of running a humidifier - no mold and very little dust. Some people with asthma or other breathing problems suffer when the humidity is too low, so I'd say that even for the allergy-prone the difference is worth it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dc_pilgrim
What does anyone think of the UV light systems. Gimmick or worth considering?
Gimmick.


254 nm light will kill small organisms by mutating their DNA, but it is unlikrly that you have such organisms passing through your HVAC unit (most germs you will pick up from door handles, countertops, etc.). A certain residence time/dosage is also required to kill the organisms and the fraction of a second that the air passing through your HVAC system is exposed to the light is not going to do much. On the other hand, a UV lamp will generate ozone(a pollutant) in your house. The levels of ozone produced are well below what the EPA considers hazardous, but why put any excess pollutants in your house?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I was thinking gimmick too on the UV lights.


My thinking on the allergy front (I have them, for dust and mold and animals) - low humidity is good for dust, high is good for mold. I am leaning towards a whole house humidifier with the auto sensor that uxbridge recomended.


Not sure on the filters. Looks like that guardian (appears that the product line is merged with Broan) is expensive. But I'll ask my guy about it. I am still not sure if electrostats or upgraded media filters deliver improved results. I still need to try the hard water test. I couldn't find a bar of soap last night since my wife has the soft soap in every bathroom. I think I have some in my travel kit though.


I am leaning towards a zone per floor to try to address our comfort issue with the upper floor getting inadequete heat. Also, our thermostat, while programable kind of stinks, will let the temps drift a lot before it fires. Might be the way its programed. User error is always a good bet. . .
 

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Oh, and what is the difference between "Heat Recovery" and "Energy Recovery"? Those HEPA filters come in those two flavors. We are in Massachusetts, if the product is differentiated on heating and cooling needs.
 

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I have both the Aprilaire electrostatic filter and their humidifier. The humidifier is the automatic type, that uses a sensor in the return air line to sense humidity, and regulates accordingly. I purchased both from a discount HVAC store store in the US by mail order, and installed them myself.


Both work very well as far as I can tell. The air filter gets replaced once a year, and shows a large amount of 'crud' caught in its pleats. The humidifier is almost a necessity here, with very low winter outside temperatures (-30F) and no humidity in the air. My not-so-new house has enough air leakage that inside air would otherwise just be as dry as the outside, very hard on nose and lips. With the humidifier there's no problem. Since the humidifier is automatic, it won't over-saturate the air with humidity. I set it such that on cold nights I get only a small amount of condensation on the windows, that means it won't condense on any other surface within the house.


Consumer reports did a test of various whole-house air filters, both electrostatic and regular. The Aprilair electrostatic unit came out at the top of their list, which was in fact why I purchased it. They also measured ozone, which can be a problem for electrostatic units. The Aprilair showed no residual ozone, so it's perfectly safe to use.


-Rob-
 

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Dave,


Good timing on bringing this back up. My Aprilaire media replacements just came and I'd figured I'd take a few shot as I replaced them. I buy them online from AprilAire and replace them once a year about now. They say you can go up to two years, but I change them out every 12 mos.


Boxed media:
http://public.fotki.com/bketterl/ear...s/1002073.html


Here's the one I pulled from the unit this AM:
http://public.fotki.com/bketterl/ear...s/1002070.html


Here's a side by side of the old and new medias:
http://public.fotki.com/bketterl/ear...s/1002071.html


Here it is installed:
http://public.fotki.com/bketterl/ear...s/1002072.html


Bud
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hmm - consumer reports. . . Not a bad idea we have that. I looked at the Aprilaire website, and they have a few models, some are manual some automatic. Shouldn't be a problem to request an automatic one.


Thanks Bud for the pics. Really not that grungy considering it was a year of service. Your wife must think you are crazy to take pictures of a dirty filter. And find it crazier that some one appreciates it. Looks better quality than the 3M filter in my furnace.


The good news is we are real close to starting our build, so that's exciting.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dc_pilgrim
Your wife must think you are crazy to take pictures of a dirty filter. And find it crazier that some one appreciates it.
Yeah, well you know, woman just don't get it sometimes. BTW, I forgot until as second ago, I changed out that filter a few months back (summer) after all the construction in the basement was done. I like to do them all at the same time, and since the upstairs was due, changing them both gets me back on schedule.


Bud
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dc_pilgrim
Oh, and what is the difference between "Heat Recovery" and "Energy Recovery"? Those HEPA filters come in those two flavors. We are in Massachusetts, if the product is differentiated on heating and cooling needs.
Those aren't terms used on HEPA filters for purifying the air in your house, but rather on air exchangers, which exhaust some of the "stale" air from your house and bring in "fresh" air from outside. Some of those units have HEPA filters in them for the incoming air, but they have much lower flow rates than the whole-house varieties. Still, they are good products.


Since you are putting expensive, conditioned air outside and bringing in whatever is out there, you would like to recover some of that coditioning. "Heat Recovery" uses a heat exchanger to transfer some of the energy from yout hot/cold inside air to the cold/hot outside air. An "Energy Recovery" model transfers some humidity as well.
 

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I am in the middle of building an addition and a dedicated theater. I contracted to install a Trane system along with 3 zones and a the Trane Clean Effexts air filter. Along with the variable speed furnance, this system is suppose to be great for filtering the air. The reviews look strong
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Just got a quote from a guy who had come out a while ago, but never sent me anything. I figured he didn't want the work. Based on his prices, I'd say so.


Move the furnace and related duct work (not far, but there is a beam to work around) - $4.3k


Move the water heater w/related piping - $2.6K


Install grilles in basement (cut into existing ductwork primarily) - $3.2K


Install Sewage Ejector pump, roug in bath (no fixtures) - $6.8K


Install sump pump and backup (not clear who provides pumps) - $2.3K


So, all in all over $20K for moving a furnace and water heater, rough in a bath (albeit w/ejector), and install 2 sump pumps. Nothing zoned, nothing extra.
 
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