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Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, United States
A guy finding out if life really does begin at 50.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dehumidifier Install

Dehumidifier Install
I've lived in my home for 25 years, and I've often had issues with damp musty odors in my MBR closet and in the front bedroom.  The problem is worse in the spring and fall when the outdoor air temperature is less than 80F because the AC does not run enough to dry the indoor air.  Typically on hot summer days, the AC runs enough that the indoor relative humidity (RH) will be about 55% or less.  On the cooler days, the indoor RH can be over 60%.

The 2nd air return I put in the MBR closet helped, but when we had a few warm days with dew points in the upper 60s, Maryann said she started noticing a musty smell in the corner of the bedroom.  I set up the portable dehumidifier, and that took care of the issue.  However, having to listen to it run and to dump the water one or more times a day, got old fast.  I decided to bite the bullet and install a whole house dehumidifier.

Whole house dehumidifiers are no different than portable dehumidifiers except on how they are packaged.  Whole house dehumidifiers have collars that allow them to be connected to ducts, and they require piping to a drain to handle the water removed from the air instead of using some type of catch bucket.  Some whole house dehumidifiers require an external dehumidistat to control them.  Others have an internal dehumidistat (again just like a portable dehumidifier).  They all have an internal fan to move the air over the coils, and that fan works with the existing HVAC system fan.

Some of the larger whole house dehumidifiers also allow outside air to be drawn into them which is important in air tight homes. My house is not air tight, so being able to draw in outside air was not necessary.  In fact, since the outdoor air in North Carolina can be very humid, it would add to the indoor humidity.  My house being 'loose' is one of the reasons my indoor humidity is high to start with.  I've not measured, but I'm sure I get several air exchanges per hour without even trying to add outdoor air on purpose.  The number of air exchanges per hour will limit how low you can reduce your indoor humidity on humid days.

I searched and found several units based on the size of my existing AC unit (2 tons) and my home's square footage that would work.  I decided on the TrueDRY DR65 by Honeywell.  It can remove 65 pints (8+ gallons) of water per day and is Energy Star certified and removes 2.22 liters (4.7 pints) per kilowatt hour (KWH) of energy.  It also had the advantage of a low height so that I could simply sit it on top of my existing air handler.  That installation is simpler since it allows easy access to the return and supply plenums as well as the existing condensation drain.  I had to run a new 120v circuit and install an outlet near the DR65.  I choose to use the internal dehumidistat (I set it to 45% RH).  I did install the backdraft damper which was recommended for the configuration I chose, Main Return to Main Supply, which puts the DR65 in parallel with the existing air handler.  This configuration requires the air handler fan to run anytime the DR65 operates.  This was simple to achieve using the sample wiring diagram provided which inserts the DR65 into the fan circuit. The demumidstat for the DR65 or the HVAC thermostat can turn on the system fan when needed.  The backdraft damper is needed only when the system fan is on and the DR65 is not running.

The DR65 been in use for a couple weeks now, and it's keeping the indoor RH at 50% or less.  On a couple of days, it ran continuously which cost less than $1.50 a day:

0.550kw (measured)  x 24hrs x $0.105/kWh    

On most days it cycles on and off as needed.  The AC may run more often since the DR65 does add heat to the air as it is dehumidified and I didn't include that cost in my calculations.  In theory, I could raise the indoor temperature a few degrees since dryer air feels cooler, but as of yet, I still have my thermostat set the same as before the DR65 (76F).

So as of now, I'm happy with my decision to purchase and install the DR65.  It has a 5 year warranty. so I'm looking forward to many years of service from it.  The only maintenance required is to replace the MERV 11 filter once a year.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Barred Owl Box

Barred Owl Box

We've had pretty good luck with the a Bluebird box in our yard.  We get two and sometimes three broods a year. We've also seen barred owls in the yard, so Maryann decided we should try to see if we can get the owls to nest by putting up a box.

She found box plans, so I got busy. You can click the image to see the album with the blow by blow.  I pretty much followed the web page instructions, and construction was straight forward. Only thing extra I did was use my biscuit joiner to join the sides and bottom.

Constructions took about 6 hours spread over 3 days. I cut the wood the 1st day, stained it the next day, then assembled it the following day. I had to wait for a day or two for nicer weather to install it in the tree, and the install took about 3 hours. I had the wood, but the stain, fasteners, wire rope, clamps, etc. cost about $45. You can skip the stain and use chain to hold the box to the tree if you want.  You can read Maryann's Hoots up There? Building a Barred Owl Box blog post on GeekMom.  She did a great job documenting, and there's even a video!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Mohu Leaf® 50 HDTV Antenna

Off the Air Antenna

I've been a Dish satellite customer for 10 years now.  Over the years, Dish has battled with the local station owners over rebroadcast fees (the fee cable and satellite companies have to pay station owners to rebroadcast or carry the local channels for customers of the cable or satellite company).  In September 2013, NBC and Dish had a dispute over the fees, and as a result, programming provided by NBC was not available on Dish for a month or so.  At that time, I purchased an OTA (Over the Air) adapter for my Dish Network 722 VIP DVR/Receiver.  I used a home made dipole antenna, and it worked well.  I was able to get NBC and several other local channels, but since the antenna was directional, I could not get both NBC and PBS at the same time.   In time Dish and the local station settled, and NBC programming was once again available on Dish Network.

Then this November, I was watching the the local news and saw a segment on a local Raleigh company named Mohu which makes antennas.  I ordered a Leaf® 50 HDTV Antenna, and it arrived in a few days. The packaged included the flat antenna, an amplifier with power module, and a 16ft coax.  The instructions suggested placing it near a window which in my case was not possible.  My equipment is in the middle of my house, so I decided to put the antenna in the attic, but the 16ft of coax included was not long enough.  I checked the Mohu web site, and they said the coax could be up to 25 ft long, so measured and cut a 25ft piece of coax.  The extra 9ft was just enough to reach the nearest outside wall in the attic.  I ran the coax inside of a partition wall from the attic to the equipment.  I had just enough cable to extend about 2 feet from the wall.  I hooked the coax from the antenna directly to the OTA adapter without the amplifier to see how well that would work.  I scanned the channels, and it picked up 13+ channels.  I was impressed with just how well the antenna alone worked.  I then put the coax from the antenna into the included amplifier, and powered the amplifier using an available USB port on the DVR.   I connected the output lead from the amplifier to the OTA adapter and scanned the channels again.  This time, it added 25 channels.  I believe that is all the channels in my area!

For the last two weeks, I've been using the OTA since Dish Network has removed FOX and CBS due to yet another dispute over rebroadcast fees. It has worked very well.  I can record FOX and CBS programming received OTA using my DVR, and watch it when I'm ready.  I see why people are cutting the cord.  Between what we can get over then internet and what I can get using an antenna it has me thinking about it.  I'm not in a position right now to 'cut the cord', but that could change.  I were to do it, my Leaf antenna working so well would be a big factor in that decision.