DIY Hell: It Begins

I’m cheap.  And poor (read: “house poor”).  And there are things I feel I should be able to do myself and not have to hire someone all the time to do.  Electrical I feel I can handle.  And since buying a house, working with sheetrock and plumbing* isn’t too far out of my realm.

* I have not worked with, nor do I plan on working with, copper pipes.  PVC for drains is fine. Copper, not going to happen.

One side note – when it comes to my car, I let a mechanic handle that.  Anything that I travel in at 65+ mph is not going to be my responsibility to maintain.  I let someone who knows what they are looking at work on it.

So anyway, here goes.  At home, I have a one zone HVAC system.  It is a forced hot air furnace with central A/C.  Not uncommon stuff here, but it gets weird.  I have two separate thermostats.  It’s actually very logical – one upstairs controls the A/C and the one downstairs controls the Heat.  Since heat rises, it makes sense that’s downstairs and since cool air sinks, that thermostat should be upstairs.

Both thermostats were the old dial kind.

Now recently I replaced the downstairs Heat thermostat with a digital programmable model.  Great investment too.  I’ve been very pleased and happy waking up to the heat already coming on, and coming home to a nice warm house while reaping the benefits of turning down the heat when I’m at work.

But I tried to get a little fancy with the installation.  You see the old Heat thermostat just had a dial, no on or off options for anything.  And the new thermostat has the ability to turn the fan on without calling for heat.  The upstairs A/C dial thermostat actually has a switch to also do just this.  So I thought, wouldn’t it be great if both thermostats could be used to call for the fan to turn on by itself?

For those of you who might be HVAC experts, I “accomplished” this by connecting the Green wire from the thermostat to the furnace motherboard (or whatever HVAC people call the main piece of circuitry inside the furnace!).  The A/C thermostat also connects this way.

However when I turned on the fan using the Heat thermostat, the A/C compressor kicked on.  Not what I wanted.  Apparently, because I called for the fan to be on, the upstairs thermostat which was set for “auto” mode thought that since the fan was running the compressor should also be running.  And called for the compressor to kick on.

So I abandoned the idea.  It wasn’t that big of a deal.  Until today.  You see, having forced hot air heat is very dry. So dry that Wife gets nosebleeds, and I’m pretty sure it’s also leading to sinus headaches I seem to get during the winter.  We bought a small one room humidifier to solve this problem, but they are a pain to clean daily – we do it because it’s the right thing to do blah blah blah.  And I don’t think my sinuses are appreciating the changes in humidity on a 15 minute basis when I’m in other rooms of the house.

The solution is to buy a whole house humidifier.  And I found the perfect model because it meets our crazy criteria.  We need something that’s not a pain to maintain, that can fit in a ridiculously tight duct space, and does not require a floor drain, since our furnace is on the first floor of which is on a concrete slab.  The Humidifier we found was an Aprilaire 400, which satisfies all of this, plus comes with some neat features, like an “automatic mode” which will use the outdoor temperature to decide what time of humidity we should have in the house plus be able to humidify the house even when the heat is not called for by running the fan alone without the rest of the furnace.

Alas, we have stumbled on to our problem! So this unit will be able to turn on the fan by itself when needed by wiring in to the furnaces Green wire terminal, which means (if you’ve been paying attention) it will trigger the central air compressor to kick on.

At least that’s what I’m afraid of.  Welcome to day one of DIY Hell.  I haven’t even bought anything, and already I can see this being an issue.

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