Most helpful critical review
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Questionable reliability - high energy costs
on December 26, 2011
I had my furnace replaced in Dec-2009), and the installer recommended a Honeywell TruSteam humidifier. It worked OK the first two heating seasons; I cleaned it when I shut it off in spring per the manual. This heating season (2011-2012) I started getting alarms that it needed to be cleaned or I needed to call service. I cleaned it multiple times, including cleaning the water sensor assembly, to no avail. Per the troubleshooting guide I am now supposed to replace the sensor and/or valve. I do not intend to work on it any further. Even if I get it working again, I will be needing to spend far more time cleaning it than is reasonable.
Note that the water used is not particularly high in mineral content, coming from Lake Michigan. My previous unit was an AprilAire, which was only cleaned every year or two and worked flawlessly for the 25 year life of the furnace.
The other thing to keep in mind is that this unit uses electricity to boil the water. There is a warning in the installation manual about your electricity costs rising. It seems ironic to have put in a highly efficient furnace but now have a humidifier that counters the improvement. The unit is also somewhat noisy, bothering guests in the nearby bedroom.
Update 3/6/12: I managed to get the humidifier working again so I could run a couple quick tests. With outside air in the 30's, my 2000 sq ft house (pretty well insulated and sealed) was running around 33% humidity with no humidifier. I ran it for about day, humidity set for 50%, and it went up to around 42% before it died. Based on my quick tests and measurement of kw usage, my electricity cost would be between $200 and $400 for my 5-month heating season with electricity at 13c/kWh.
Update 1/28/13: A couple updates. Despite my 3/6/12 comment about it dying, I managed to get it working again, and have finally figured out why it was failing repeatedly for the last 2 heating seasons. Honeywell has released a service bulletin regarding cracks on the water level sensor assembly. The cracks apparently cause water to be wicked up the sensor legs which triggers the overflow alarm. If you turn the humidifier off for a couple days it will dry out and work again, which is what I've been doing the past couple years without knowing why it was recovering. I just installed a new water sensor assembly ($45 - covered under warranty). It appears to be made of a different material, which I hope will last longer than the two years the first one lasted.
Regarding energy usage, my short term test mentioned in the 3/6/12 comment is not indicative of season long energy usage. For the 1000 hours I've run it this year I've averaged around 100W, so that works out to more like $10/month, although this has been a very mild winter with minimal humidification demands.
Based on the updates, I've raised the rating from one to two stars, but remain disappointed overall with the performance and would not recommend it.
Update 4/20/13: After the above mentioned sensor replacement I have had no further issues. Today I turned it off for the season and am in the process of cleaning it - soaking everything in vinegar. I captured energy usage for the period 12/24/12 through 4/20/13. Average power consumed was 131w - total cost of electricity for the period (14c/kWh) was $71. I'm a little more satisfied with it and have begrudgingly raised the rating to 3 stars.
Update 2/1/14: The clean tank alarm went off about a month ago. The drain was clogged with sediment, so I rinsed it out and re-installed the tank. Unfortunately the alarm went off another three times over the next week, so I also cleaned the sensor area which is more difficult to reach. The last time the alarm went off I noticed that the tank had not drained completely, so I'm wondering if the solenoid drain valve is starting to fail. No more failures over the past three weeks. Energy usage to date (Chicago area, RH set to 40%) has been 601 kWhr ($66).
Update 3/4/14: The "clean tank" alarm went off again. This time I figured out what was going on. I believe the "clean tank" alarm goes off when it takes too long to drain the tank. The problem was not just the tank needed cleaning, the solenoid valve assembly was plugged up and also needed to be cleaned. I pulled the unit down, removed the solenoid valve assembly, corked the ends of the valve, poured CLR into the valve, then powered the solenoid via a wiring harness I built. The CLR bubbled mightily, so there must have been a lot of sediment in the valve. In the future I will drain the tank with CLR through the valve, which should clean it nicely.
Update 5/5/14: Humidifying season is over. Chicago area had a colder than normal winter so humidifying needs were likely higher than normal. Total energy usage for the period 11/15/13 through 5/5/14 was 999 kWhrs, which for me is $112 of electricity. I have seen other reviews that mention the tank cracking, but so far mine is fine, although the plastic has become discolored.
Update 1/9/15: The end has come. Today the humidifier's "Call Service" light came on. The error code was 11 flashes, meaning something wrong with the "backup weld monitor input", whatever that is. Steps to fix is "replace unit". I can't believe it is truly unifixable, but I could find not any help on-line, so after 5 years it will be removed and replaced with something other than a Honeywell TrueSteam unit. Reduced rating to 2 stars.