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gazman

Humidifier

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I played for two funerals in one of my churches today.

 

The verger said to me before the first one that he was concerned because "that motor thing upstairs by the bellows has been on continually for hours on end". After the funeral, I went to investigate, and found the humidifier running. It had obviously been running for a number of hours when the organ blower was off.

 

Whilst I guess that it is normal for it to work when the blower is off, is it normal for it to be on so long? Might there be a malfunction? Could the humidistat be misbehaving? The church wasn't terribly warm, and didn't feel dry. We've certainly had a lot of rain recently.

 

In the end, I unplugged it to stop any risk of the motor burning out, which happened several years ago. Incidentally, after unplugging it (the only way to do this was to disconnect one of these lawnmower-type sockets), I found to my horror that the socket had been wired up the wrong way and that the male socket was the one connected to the mains! I couldn't find any isolator switch for it. I've left it out of the way of idle fingers and, fortunately, nobody goes to that particular area apart from me.

 

But I'm wondering if I've done the right thing. Should I just leave it connected? Is it usual for a humidifier to run for hours on end?

 

Advice, please.

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Whilst I guess that it is normal for it to work when the blower is off, is it normal for it to be on so long? Might there be a malfunction? Could the humidistat be misbehaving? The church wasn't terribly warm, and didn't feel dry. We've certainly had a lot of rain recently.

 

In the end, I unplugged it to stop any risk of the motor burning out, which happened several years ago. Incidentally, after unplugging it (the only way to do this was to disconnect one of these lawnmower-type sockets), I found to my horror that the socket had been wired up the wrong way and that the male socket was the one connected to the mains! I couldn't find any isolator switch for it. I've left it out of the way of idle fingers and, fortunately, nobody goes to that particular area apart from me.

 

But I'm wondering if I've done the right thing. Should I just leave it connected? Is it usual for a humidifier to run for hours on end?

 

Advice, please.

 

A difficult situation. If, as seems possible, there was a fire risk, and there really was no other way to turn it off, then you probably had no choice but to unplug it.

 

However, given exposed pins on the live side, and in the absence of a better alternative, I would suggest the next move might be to wrap it up in some insulating material, (tie a thick polythene bag over it, or even wind some cellotape around the plug and pins, without touching them of course, if there is nothing better handy), and if possible tape a warning notice to it. Anything to prevent someone grabbing hold of the pins would do, until the appropriate people could be notified.

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But I'm wondering if I've done the right thing. Should I just leave it connected? Is it usual for a humidifier to run for hours on end?

 

Definitely, yes. When the heating is on and the weather is cold and dry, an organ generally needs all the humidification it can get, even more so if it is in an elevated position, slowly being cooked to death.

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Thanks, both, for your replies.

 

Yes, I appreciate that the organ needs humidification (and I put several buckets of water in the loft a couple of years back when the humidifier didn't seem to be doing enough work - and they're still there, regularly topped up) but it seems that the humidifier is potentially running excessively, and I'm concerned about the fire risk. :lol:

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In large cathedrals etc it is not unknown for humidifiers to run for 24 hours a day during this time of year! Get a digital hygrometer from Maplins or Farnell and check what the humidity actually is. 60% is the aim. These machines are designed to run for long periods and as long as it is in good order, i.e. has been mainained regularly I shouldn't worry. However the fact that the 'lawnmower' connection is the wrong way round doesn't fill me with confidence that the system has been fitted/maintained by a professional

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Thank you. I did wonder about adjusting the humidistat in the organ loft to see if that would switch it off, but, as I'm recuperating from a nasty bit of surgery, would do myself a mischief moving the heavy furniture it would require to get at it.

 

Your idea of a hydrometer sounds good.

 

I've learnt this evening that the machine has been running constantly for at least two days, although the church heating hasn't been on and the atmosphere has been, well, moist to say the least!

 

I had doubts about the person who was recommended by the then organ tuners to fit the humidifier, and have since heard negative comments about him, since confirmed by the wiring. It has not been serviced in 11 years. I recommended to the Vicar earlier today that it be serviced.

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Thank you. I did wonder about adjusting the humidistat in the organ loft to see if that would switch it off, but, as I'm recuperating from a nasty bit of surgery, would do myself a mischief moving the heavy furniture it would require to get at it.

 

Your idea of a hydrometer sounds good.

 

I've learnt this evening that the machine has been running constantly for at least two days, although the church heating hasn't been on and the atmosphere has been, well, moist to say the least!

 

I had doubts about the person who was recommended by the then organ tuners to fit the humidifier, and have since heard negative comments about him, since confirmed by the wiring. It has not been serviced in 11 years. I recommended to the Vicar earlier today that it be serviced.

 

In the event, Gareth, I would say it was fortunate you did what you did.

 

Other considerations aside, if you hadn't investigated, the booby trap plug would still be sitting there, ready to dispatch some unwary soul in the future, and the discovery of that alone is probably worth any brief interruption to the humidifier's performance.

 

All you have to hope is that the person called in to rectify it is not the comedian who fitted it in the first place.

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Thank you. I did wonder about adjusting the humidistat in the organ loft to see if that would switch it off, but, as I'm recuperating from a nasty bit of surgery, would do myself a mischief moving the heavy furniture it would require to get at it.

 

Your idea of a hydrometer sounds good.

 

I've learnt this evening that the machine has been running constantly for at least two days, although the church heating hasn't been on and the atmosphere has been, well, moist to say the least!

 

I had doubts about the person who was recommended by the then organ tuners to fit the humidifier, and have since heard negative comments about him, since confirmed by the wiring. It has not been serviced in 11 years. I recommended to the Vicar earlier today that it be serviced.

 

 

Gareth, I should contact Watkins and Watson. They will advise better than most.

 

http://www.watkinsandwatson.co.uk/40040/info.php?p=4

 

Peter

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Other considerations aside, if you hadn't investigated, the booby trap plug would still be sitting there, ready to dispatch some unwary soul in the future, and the discovery of that alone is probably worth any brief interruption to the humidifier's performance.

 

Good point. It gave me rather a shock (no pun intended) when I realized that my fingers were millimetres away from "live" metal. I put it down very carefully indeed!

 

Gareth, I should contact Watkins and Watson. They will advise better than most.

 

Thank you. I'm waiting for the Vicar to give his go ahead to ask them in to service it.

 

This afternoon I shall visit the church to put something around the live pins. If I don't post on the board again, you'll know that I've fried myself! :lol::lol::lol:

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Guest Cynic

I'm not saying you've got it wrong, but just a cautionary note:

 

A typical Watkins and Watson Humidifier of recent manufacture can have a three-pin connector joining the main unit to its sensor which is usually fitted to a vertical surface about 6' - 10' away from the main humidifier! This means that the wire you've detected may not in fact be carrying mains at all. The mains supply will probably come through a much less obvious small (copper-covered) line, all insulated and totally as it should be.

 

Off at a tangent

I'm considering naming and shaming one blower and humidifier company who took away two respectable second-hand units from me more than a month ago, gave me a bouncing cheque and have yet to either return the goods or send me a replacement cheque. Suggestions anyone?

 

Still off at a tangent

Recent repairs to the blower installation at Hull City Hall (post floods) carried out by an(other) exceptionally well-known firm broke down spectacularly recently because they expected its large blower to be able to send full high-pressure output through nothing stronger than Kopex (the 'cardboard appearance' easy-fit stuff). Moral: beware experts!

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Thanks.

 

The humidifier is rather a DIY job. It is a combination of the old one whose motor had burnt out and another reconditioned model. :) It's very Heath Robinson-ish. I'd like to think you're right about the plug, but I'm not taking any chances. Apart from the sensor wire which goes into the wind trunking, this is the only other wire which appears to go into the humidifier. I've wrapped it in polythene, and put a note out saying not to touch.

 

Yes, name and shame them, and warn others of their behaviour. :o

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I'm considering naming and shaming one blower and humidifier company who took away two respectable second-hand units from me more than a month ago, gave me a bouncing cheque and have yet to either return the goods or send me a replacement cheque. Suggestions anyone?

I agree that perhaps we should be told. This is the sort of chain of events that happens when a firm has just gone (or is about to go) out of business.

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Thanks for that tip. I wasn't aware of that. :)

 

I'm hoping to be able to find a firm who don't want to charge over £200 just to come and take a look (and that's before they do any work), and say that they can't make it until mid-Summer. Or, rather, that they can make it before then but would charge a lot more than that to make a special visit requiring a round-journey of about 200 miles.

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Thanks for that tip. I wasn't aware of that. :unsure:

 

I'm hoping to be able to find a firm who don't want to charge over £200 just to come and take a look (and that's before they do any work), and say that they can't make it until mid-Summer. Or, rather, that they can make it before then but would charge a lot more than that to make a special visit requiring a round-journey of about 200 miles.

 

Gareth,

 

Humidifiers have always been a mixed blessing. The best solution is to have the building properly air conditioned, often a matter of course in America, but seemingly totally alien over here. In one largish church I dealt with they put water troughs on top of ten of the hot water radiators. In the winter, (as the church furniture was splitting), with the heating on the verger could put up to 50 gallons per week into these troughs. (They also had a humidifier). The old massive Victorian coke `Turtle' heaters found in cathedrals were excellent in their way as they had a trough for water round their bases which helped humidify the building.

 

Humidifiers need constant and regular maintence. One of the main problems, ecpecially in hard water districts was the `furring up' of the water inlet valve and often I have found that you could hear the motor running but there was no water in the machine. In my tuning days on each visit, I normally took off the inspection cover on the top and pressed the float down to ensure water was coming in - if not panic stations.

 

It is essential that the humidistat is placed in a correct position and that `bleed valves' are correctly fitted to ensure that the moist air circulates properly throughout the interior of the instrument when not in use and some into the surrounding interior atmosphere. Despite all this there are many parts of the organ that a humidifier does not cover. Soundboard upperboards will still warp and pedal wooden pipes will still split to say nothing of problems with wooden mechanical actions.

 

The air immediatly coming into the instrument will be the moistest and will reduce in moisture content as it moves throught the interior. Improperly fitted a humidifier can do considerable damage. Obviously electrocution also now has to be considered.

 

Good luck,

 

Frank

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I think wrapping the exposed pins in polythene is woefully inadequate. You ought to turn off the power on that circuit until you can get an electrician to either disconnect it or fix it. If it kills somebody or sets the church on fire, your insurers (and the police) will find the correspondence on this web site a rich source of evidence.

 

In fact, if the church has been in the habit of employing the sort of "craftsmen" that would do such a job, you ought to get the building's electrics inspected as a matter of some urgency.

 

There is no reason why the humidifier shouldn't be running 24x7, but you shouldn't be able to hear it. The fact that you can means it has probably developed a fault.

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But, unfortunately, there's no sign of a switch to switch off the circuit.

 

So polythene bags and a large sign with big writing in seems to be the best at the moment until we get an expert in. People have also been told to keep away from it, and the reason explained.

 

As for the motor noise, it is fairly quiet, and at the same volume as it normally is when I test it, which I do from time to time.

 

Thank you for your advice.

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A difficult situation. If, as seems possible, there was a fire risk, and there really was no other way to turn it off, then you probably had no choice but to unplug it.

 

However, given exposed pins on the live side, and in the absence of a better alternative, I would suggest the next move might be to wrap it up in some insulating material, (tie a thick polythene bag over it, or even wind some cellotape around the plug and pins, without touching them of course, if there is nothing better handy), and if possible tape a warning notice to it. Anything to prevent someone grabbing hold of the pins would do, until the appropriate people could be notified.

 

 

I think wrapping the exposed pins in polythene is woefully inadequate. You ought to turn off the power on that circuit until you can get an electrician to either disconnect it or fix it. If it kills somebody or sets the church on fire, your insurers (and the police) will find the correspondence on this web site a rich source of evidence.

 

As the poster of the suggestion to cover the pins of the plug, I would reply as follows:

 

The situation, as it presented in the original post, was

 

a) The need to switch off immediately (fire risk),

 

B) NO SWITCH AVAILABLE to do the above, hence the unplugging, and

 

c) Subsequently exposed live pins.

 

Given those three conditions, then once the fire risk was removed, the greatest, indeed the only, remaining IMMEDIATE danger was c. Perhaps I should have made it more clear, but my suggestion would normally be intended to be put into effect IMMEDIATELY after unplugging the device, and BEFORE leaving the site to contact whoever was responsible for the building, in order to persuade them to attend to it AS A MATTER OF URGENCY. The alternative was to reconnect the plug and restore the fire risk, but then of course fires are also highly dangerous, and to paraphrase your comment: "If it kills somebody BY setting fire to the church... etc."

 

Assuming that Gareth didn't know where the main switches were, or couldn't get access to them, and that he wasn't carrying a role of insulating tape in his pocket at the time, or that the person responsible for the building was not within shouting distance with a qualified electrician instantly on call, then clearly options were limited. In those circumstances, I would argue that dealing with the exposed pins by THE BEST AVAILABLE means to render it AS SAFE AS POSSIBLE for the immediate, and I stress, the immediate future, was infinitely better than leaving them exposed, or perhaps you disagree. I would point out that I did use the phrases "If, ....... there really was no other way to turn it off," and "In the absence of a better alternative."

 

It seems to me that a great deal here depends on the original assessment of how high the fire risk was, and that was down to Gareth, who was there at the time. Unfortunately this is where, it seems to me nowadays, anyone using their common sense to deal with a situation as best they can, leaves themselves open to just the the sort of criticism you mention, and which leads to people turning their backs, under the principle of 'it may burn down, but if I don't touch, I can't be blamed.' If something does go wrong, then whatever it was, there is always some expert, who although not there at the time, with the benefit of hindsight is able to criticize whatever action was taken.

 

Of course, as a long, or even medium term solution, your comments are quite correct, but my suggestion was never intended as such, and perhaps I should have stressed that point more. However, in this case the post came after the event, and believing Gareth to be a man of sound common sense and of reasonable to high intelligence, I didn't feel it necessary to go into a blow by blow account.

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Thank you, Janner! :unsure:

 

I am still waiting to hear further from those I've asked to do a maintenance visit.

 

Those "in authority" are fully aware of the situation, and the potentially dangerous plug has been rendered as safe as I can make it. People have been warned not to go near it (and nobody ever does anyhow as it would mean climbing over some bellows, and the only thing stored there is some old choir music which hasn't been used for years), and a warning notice has been put up in a prominent position.

 

It isn't ideal but is the safest I can do at the moment, considering the circumstances. I await the visit of a professional.

 

At least I've prevented the risk of a fire, and hopefully prevented anybody other than somebody who is determined to be suicidal electrocuting themselves.

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