Kids starts coughing when Heating goes to AUX

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Old 02-09-10, 07:56 PM
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Kids starts coughing when Heating goes to AUX

Alrighty then, I know this isn't a medical forum but I need your help.

I don't know very much about HVAC at all, but I can tell you that once the AUX light comes on when it is cold out my kids start coughing.

I have tried to describe my setup on here a few times in different threads and you all have helped me limp through.

Basically I have a Goodman 2 Ton 10 SEER heat pump for a house that is somewhere between 1260-1418 square feet in size. It is accompanied by a Goodman Air Handler. The equipment seems to only be about ~3 years old. The ductwork is pretty much about the same age too.

It is not zoned at all and the house is 2 level. One heat pump runs the whole house and that is the way it is going to stay.

I am not going to get into an argument about it being too small for the house, I just want to try and give you a picture of the setup.

The kids are on the second level and the rooms are only about 100 square feet each.

Once the temperature drops down into the 30's Auxiliary heating is required periodically to keep the indoor temperature at 66 degrees inside (this is where we have chosen to set it as a minimum safe temperature and still be able to afford our electric bills).

The kids don't cough during the day, but I can tell you that as it gets colder during the evening and aux heating is required that is when they begin to cough all night.

My understanding of my Auxiliary form of heating is that it is using heat strips. We don't ever buy gas, oil, wood, or pellets to keep warm so there is nothing left to conclude.

This is where I think you all may be able to help me.

What exactly happens when these heat strips are activated? Where are the heat strips located? Is it possible that they are far older than the rest of the equipment or would they be part of the rest of the equipment?

My kids cough until I shut the registers completely. It is rediculous, once I see that AUX come on that is it, instant coughing even when they are asleep!

I have tried humidifiers to no avail.

Can anyone help with the above questions? Has anyone heard of this?

This is driving me nuts!

Thanks for your thoughts in advance!
 
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Old 02-09-10, 08:22 PM
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Have you used a flashlight to verify that it doesn't appear moldy in their supply air registers?
 
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Old 02-09-10, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Houston204 View Post
Have you used a flashlight to verify that it doesn't appear moldy in their supply air registers?
Registers and duct work to their rooms are only 6 weeks old. No mold there.
 
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Old 02-09-10, 09:31 PM
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The heat strips are in your air handler. Electric heat isn't as easy on the sinuses as your heatpump.

Have you measured the air temp at their grills in heat and Aux heat mode?

What is the humidity in the rooms.

Are you using a whole house humidifier?
 
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Old 02-10-10, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Houston204 View Post
The heat strips are in your air handler. Electric heat isn't as easy on the sinuses as your heatpump.

Have you measured the air temp at their grills in heat and Aux heat mode?

What is the humidity in the rooms.

Are you using a whole house humidifier?
Oh thanks I didn't know this.

I am using a pretty large humidifier. One that is capable of humidifying 1000 square feet. I have even put this in one of my kids room and shut the door. His head is as far away from the register as possible.

I haven't checked the humidity in each room, but I could.

Here are some stats in general for the house though.

Outside: 29.7 degrees F 67% humidity.

Inside: 66.2 degrees F 25% humidity.

Is this too dry?

Thanks!
 
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Old 02-10-10, 06:56 AM
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too dry.

but not convinced the coughing is related to HVAC. It is true though that if you have a tight home, electric and gas heat can contribute to a dry hacking type cough.

you might consider a portable humidifier as a test.

sorry for your kids' trouble. is anyone else living in home having similar issues?

IMO
Good Luck!
 
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Old 02-10-10, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by TigerDunes View Post
too dry.

but not convinced the coughing is related to HVAC. It is true though that if you have a tight home, electric and gas heat can contribute to a dry hacking type cough.

you might consider a portable humidifier as a test.

sorry for your kids' trouble. is anyone else living in home having similar issues?

IMO
Good Luck!
I will keep the humidifier on long term to see what happens.

Is there any particular range that I would want the humidity to be in? (There are quite a few arcticles out there on ranges but the information on here is bar none).

I'd rather be at the lower end of that range to avoid feeding into mold because it is an older house (about 60 yrs old).

My home is not that tight IMHO due to it's age and lack of insulation in many areas, but in turn I have been restoring lots of it and making it as tight as possible. This house is pretty darn tight for such an old house at this point.

I have been having trouble personally. I got swine flu in September and have never been the same again. I have had chronic sinusitus and eventually this lead over to a productive cough and sore throat.

The only constant has been sinusitus.

Thanks for all of the info so far!
 
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Old 02-10-10, 07:32 AM
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35-40 RH

since you are already using a humidifier, you might consider re-checking your results for accuracy purposes.

Good Luck!
 
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Old 02-10-10, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by TigerDunes View Post
35-40 RH

since you are already using a humidifier, you might consider re-checking your results for accuracy purposes.

Good Luck!
Many thanks..I gave up using it since it didn't seem to help...but now that I can get scientific I will do so now.

35% is my target!

Many thanks!
 
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Old 02-10-10, 08:17 AM
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40% RH is ideal. Are you using a hot steam humidifier or cool mist. Hot steam uses too much electricity, Cool mist is loud, my favorite is ultrasonic humidifiers. They use less electricity and quiet.
Higher humidity will help transfer the heat better and help even the temperature in all areas of the house. You should set the heat to 68 degrees, 66 is a bit low.
 
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Old 02-10-10, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by esalman View Post
40% RH is ideal. Are you using a hot steam humidifier or cool mist. Hot steam uses too much electricity, Cool mist is loud, my favorite is ultrasonic humidifiers. They use less electricity and quiet.
Higher humidity will help transfer the heat better and help even the temperature in all areas of the house. You should set the heat to 68 degrees, 66 is a bit low.
I am using a cool mist humidifier. My wife hates the cold feeling whenever she is close to it. I will consider the ultasonic humidifier but can certainly live with the noise (being budget minded).

Could you please expand on 66 being a bit low? Is that for health reasons or just comfort reasons?

We are comfortable at 66 but if 68 would be healthier I am all ears!

Thank you!
 
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Old 02-10-10, 09:41 AM
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My first thought is dirt and dust and maybe mold in the HVAC system is the issue. When the electric heat cuts on it is sending the super dry heated air out of the duct work. This would cause any dirt or dust to dry out and potentially become air borne. Id make sure the HVAC system is clean. My second thought is when the electric heat comes on it is lowering the RH by 5% before it cuts off. This could be causing the sinus issues. I would look at raising the RH.
 
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Old 02-10-10, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by jj94auto View Post
I am using a cool mist humidifier. My wife hates the cold feeling whenever she is close to it. I
Hi,
Keeping the temperature at 66 and increasing the humidity the whole house might feel like being neer the cool mist humidifier. Your body will loose heat faster.

Emil
 
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Old 02-10-10, 11:37 AM
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Thanks for all! Much appreciated!
 
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Old 02-10-10, 06:43 PM
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Humidity

I have a steam type humidifier made by Autoflo model X15A. It is 35 years old and have had to do repairs now and then. I want to replace it but cannot find any like this one. It was not working for a while and I was coughing a lot at night. Pulled it out and cleaned the valve that controls water input, cleaned it out and now coughing has stopped. Humidity should be over 40%, right now in bedroom it is nearly 60%. Really stops the static electricity and house is warmer. We run it during the day and wifes makes me cut it off at night. Humidistat needs replacing so I use it just to cut it on and off. I have a bulls eye window over my front door that is standard glass and when I see it sweating I know we have enough moisture. Windows are double pane and depending on how cold it is will show some condensation. This unit nothing more than a water heater and is mounted right below the Air handler. When the water reaches vaporization temp it will turn the fan on so it operates independant of the HP. It helps to keep the dust and dander down which makes me cough. I found a HVAC company locally that has some of the parts plus some old units that were removed when HP units were replaced. It can be maintenance intensive but when dealing with water that is normal. In the meantime I am going to search for a replacement. One good thing when the fan is running you not only get the evaporated moisture but the heat generated by the waterheater. On moderate days this can reduce the running of the HP.
 

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Old 02-11-10, 02:41 PM
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Thanks for the overwhelming input. I have left my humidifier on since I started posting and I cannot get the RH higher than 28% inside the house! It is a ~$40 walmart cold humidifier. I figured that I would mention this just in case I have some sort of illusion that the humidifier should be a cheap one.

The humidifier is supposed to take care of 1000 square feet and the lower level of my house is about 1000 square feet with the upper level being about 300 square feet.

My RH sensor is only about 12 feet away from the humidifier and both are on the lower level.

Any thoughts?

Are the humidifiers that you all are referring to more expensive in nature?

Thanks!

P.S. Ronny where in Central Virginia are you...I am in Spotsylvania close to Fredericksburg.
 
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Old 02-11-10, 06:10 PM
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Check the filter. In reality you need more than one humidifier or one big one.
 
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Old 02-11-10, 06:42 PM
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Old 02-11-10, 07:40 PM
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I have a Skuttle steam humidifier.

In this situation jj's wife might like this one:
Whole House Bypass Humidifier HE220 by Honeywell - Honeywell Central

It would be a project, but is DIY.

First lets get the kids room up to 40% and see what happens when the Aux heat comes on. No sense jumping all over a humidity problem if we don't prove that the coughing symtom is really caused by a humidity issue.

Also, no matter how new the ducts or grills or old the house or other equipment. Get some tools, and a flashlight and inspect the interior of the air handler and duct work. Check that insulation isn't laying on or near the heat strips inside of the air handler.

The original problem is coughing when aux heat comes on, start you inspection there. True, lack of humidity will tend to cause a dry cough. But not the second or even 5 minutes after aux heat comes on.
 
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Old 02-12-10, 09:49 AM
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Thanks all...I would like to report that I am confident that low RH is the issue....

...at least in my case.

My son is getting better on his own (nebulizer seems to have done the trick) and he is on the way to an allergist and asthma specialist on Monday.

As for me, I have been noticing that I feel great almost instantly after going outside especially when it is cold out. My sinuses are free flowing (completely gross topic but beats being sick).

I need to take care of this low humidity situation quickly. I will post a new thread on humidifiers in the humidifier section and post the link here so that all of you who are aware of the situation can offer your thoughts if you have the time.

Thank you very much for your thoughts!
 
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Old 02-12-10, 10:14 AM
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Here is the link to my humidier question. As you can see, I want to have my cake and eat it to.

Well..what would be cake to me might be a hassle for others...

http://forum.doityourself.com/humidi...ml#post1693011

Thanks!
 
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Old 02-13-10, 03:13 PM
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Might i suggest installing a UV light in duct plenum. Uv lights are very good at killing germs and if thats what this problem is then it might help. of course you could get the works:

which i consider to be a hepa filter, april aire is nice, its 5 inches thick. an electronic air cleaner, it zaps particles, and the uv light kills germs instantly
 
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Old 02-13-10, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by ender2272 View Post
Might i suggest installing a UV light in duct plenum. Uv lights are very good at killing germs and if thats what this problem is then it might help. of course you could get the works:

which i consider to be a hepa filter, april aire is nice, its 5 inches thick. an electronic air cleaner, it zaps particles, and the uv light kills germs instantly
Sorry does not work like that! UV will do nothing for killing germs in the duct work unless you have Many (most of the time 5 to 8 ) bulbs in the duct work. There is not enough contact time for the UV to work. One light will do nothing. Electronic air cleaners do a great job but they have to be cleaned every 30 days. If you don't they will be no better than a 30 cent filter.

Good IAQ starts with a twice a year service contract. A dehumidifier in green grass states specially with basements. 60 cfm of fresh air during occupied times. Good filtration like a 5 inch media filter. Humidifiers to keep RH between 30 and 50%.
 
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Old 02-14-10, 06:20 PM
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Humidifier

I was wrong the 60% humidity. My wife says it's been reading that for years. So not real sure what it is running but think it is in the 35 to 40% range now. I was able collect enough parts from a local HVAC shop that was wanting to get rid of them. No calls as this unit is now obslete. Got a complete all new parts with tub plus extra heater. Got it waiting to go in when the old one quits. I live in Lynchburg, VA and had my HP repaired last year and been doing great and hope it stays that way. We have the temp set at 73 all winter. I refuse to go around with a cold nose. Anyway got very dry in the house and forced me to repair the humidifier. Cat likes it as it stopped the static electricity. I use a pleated filter but with the grandkids running up down by intake I usually get about 40 days out of it. Going to buy a new readout to better read what the humidity is.
 
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Old 02-16-10, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by airman.1994 View Post
Sorry does not work like that! UV will do nothing for killing germs in the duct work unless you have Many (most of the time 5 to 8 ) bulbs in the duct work. There is not enough contact time for the UV to work. One light will do nothing. Electronic air cleaners do a great job but they have to be cleaned every 30 days. If you don't they will be no better than a 30 cent filter.

Good IAQ starts with a twice a year service contract. A dehumidifier in green grass states specially with basements. 60 cfm of fresh air during occupied times. Good filtration like a 5 inch media filter. Humidifiers to keep RH between 30 and 50%.
Actually you only need one uv light in the plenum per system and it does wonders. It kills mold and all sorts of stuff 5 to 8 bulbs is ridiculous and u would be spending loads of money.
 
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Old 02-16-10, 12:35 PM
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Sorry mot enough contact time (to much FPM)for UV to kill any mold going in the duct. UV will kill mold on the coil if is is shining on it but you will still need two lights to get both sides of the coil.
 
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Old 02-16-10, 05:04 PM
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ender2272 Airman is a pro. When he gives his opinion I can take it to the bank. In fact I have been trying for years to get him to moderate forums on our site.

And, again he is correct. One light is a waste of money as you will not reap any benefit. You actually need a UV zone that covers the entire duct, usually in a V shape.

This isn't the exact link I was looking for (website maint) but it will do.

UV Ultraviolet Air Purifier / UV Ultraviolet Ozone Generator Problems

Airdude, mod with me!
 
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Old 02-17-10, 09:48 AM
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Many thanks for all of this help!! I ended up getting a honeywell whole house humidifier. It seemed like the bang for the buck. I just need to keep the tanks filled...but that is what the wife is for.

I hope she isn't reading this.
 
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Old 02-17-10, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by jj94auto View Post
...but that is what the wife is for.

I hope she isn't reading this.
Me too, for your health's sake!
 
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Old 02-17-10, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarredsdad View Post
ender2272 Airman is a pro. When he gives his opinion I can take it to the bank. In fact I have been trying for years to get him to moderate forums on our site.

And, again he is correct. One light is a waste of money as you will not reap any benefit. You actually need a UV zone that covers the entire duct, usually in a V shape.

This isn't the exact link I was looking for (website maint) but it will do.

UV Ultraviolet Air Purifier / UV Ultraviolet Ozone Generator Problems

Airdude, mod with me!
well let me try one more thing before i surrender...if you got a uv light it would be best to keep the fan going all hours of the day, keep air moving constantly across the light. the motor stays on but its only as much as keeping a light bulb on cost wise. Also, how can u post a link saying how bad uv works but then offers another product for you to buy??? Its just not a very good fact reference. I mean I know its not the site you meant, but its pretty much useless.
 
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Old 02-17-10, 04:54 PM
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Can I answer?????? As far as the uv is concerned running the fan will have no impact on IAQ. But if you or in the heating season running the fan 24/7 will deliver filtered air to the home and help with cold spots. Running the fan 24/7 when using the AC (in green grass states) is not desirably unless you have a way to deal with the higher RH. ( when the call for cooling stops the fan will evaporate the water on the indoor coil back in to the air) Average residential cooling coll can hold 7 pounds of water. So a lot of water can go back into the air stream.
Just to give you a little back ground I work for a large mechanical company and all I do is IAQ work.
Jarredsdad Today Richmond/ Charles City/ and Newport News.
Thursday Cville and Fredburg.
Did they get that wallmart thing worked out at the battle field or am I going to have to lesson to that on talk radio all day.
 
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Old 02-17-10, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarredsdad View Post
ender2272 One light is a waste of money as you will not reap any benefit. You actually need a UV zone that covers the entire duct, usually in a V shape.
Sorry, that is just the way it is. I had thought about "A" uv light here. After research I came to the same conclusion Airman has already stated as fact. I would need a minimum of 5 lights to see any real benefit.

Since I don't have a "sick house" the entire idea is by the way side.

Walmart will be in the news (at Wilderness battlefield) forever.
 
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Old 05-02-10, 08:16 PM
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this may be to old for the original poster to take a look at this. However I do this to all my ac in automobiles and in my house. I spray an anti mold spray on the equipment IE the heat exchanger area in the house and in the intakes on a car.

On the car ones I run the car for 5 mins while spraying it and than shut off to make sure that the spray is getting throughout the whole duct work.

In the house after spraying it inside and letting it sit for a day I turn the house fan on and spray some into the return line so that it gets distributed thoughout all the duct work.

This way if you do have a mold and it is laying on the heat pads it may cure this.

Also I am not sure if you have the capability with your system but I have made sure mine was wired to have a manual back up heat, that it would not auto kick on the backup heat.

Even when it gets down to 0 at night in my area I do not lose enough heat to worry about the backup kicking on, I run mine at 70 all year round summer and winter.

I do have a brand new house that was completely setup for a heat pump.
 
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Old 01-17-11, 02:09 PM
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Just wanted to report back and say thanks...the issue was 100% humidity related.

I am using a portable whole house humidifier and no more coughing this winter.

I fought sinusitis for 9 months last year due to the low RH. RH was at 8% in my home!

Thanks all!
 
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Old 01-17-11, 03:39 PM
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Glad it all worked out for you.
 
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Old 01-17-11, 06:30 PM
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Thanks, everyone talks about how humid it is here...lies! Even in the summer the RH is not really all that high.
 
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Old 01-23-11, 08:05 PM
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I am happy to have helped...
 
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