Setting Up a Dehumidifier to Run 24/7


  #1  
Old 11-01-12, 05:09 PM
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Setting Up a Dehumidifier to Run 24/7

Have a project thatís been lingering for a long time, think this might be the weekend for it.

In my emergency backup house, Iíve finished the basement. It still gets humid, so when Iím there, I run the dehumidifierÖ I donít know offhand the size of the bucket, probably a gallon, fills in a day.

Iíd like to replicate a setup I have in my home Ė I have the dehumidifier in the basement, it runs into a condensate pump, which throws the water outside.

However, since I donít have easy access to the outside in this situation, I thought Iíd throw it from the condensate pump into the washing machineís drain.

Since this house isnít occupied frequently, Iím worried about bad things happening. The pump has a kill switch Ė if its reservoir fills, it is supposed to shut off. The one Iím running at home has performed flawlessly for seven years.

That saidÖ Iím still worried.

So I was thinking Iíd put the pump in a plastic tub, and put a kill switch on the inside of the tub, and plug the dehumidifier into the kill switch. If for some reason the pump didnít move the water out, the tub would start to fill; once it got half an inch of water or so, the dehumidifier would shut off. Problem solved.

I have no idea what that ďtop-killĒ switch is called, so Iím having a hard time finding one. Every time I describe it to someone, and everything I Google, comes back with a sump-pump-type switch Ė that is, when water hits the fill line, it turns the circuit ON; I want the opposite, I want the circuit to shut OFF.

Two questions:
1) Whatís that switch called?
2) Whatís wrong with my plan? (And how do I correct it?)

Thanks!
 
  #2  
Old 11-02-12, 08:15 PM
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So after a trip to Home Depot (which I knew would be a waste, but I was driving by), trips to two plumbing supply stores, and various calls - to be told at every step "no such thing exists", I was able to find exactly what I was looking for at a HVAC supply store:
[ATTACH=CONFIG]5048[/ATTACH]

I still would like someone to punch logic-holes in my plan.
 
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  #3  
Old 11-03-12, 10:38 AM
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Hi rj Ė

Donít think Iíll be much help but I know you are on the right track worrying about switch failures and overflow. I bought a dehumidifier at Home Depot and put it in my basement. I was just testing for weeks and let the water drain 24/7 into the built-in bucket. When the bucket filled the bucket-full switch would shut off the unit.

I would then drain the bucket and turn the unit on again. I was just getting an idea of how long it would take to fill the bucket or in other words how much water I was drawing from the air. My actual goal was to eventually bypass the bucket and use the drain hose option to drain the water 24/7 into my storm water drain in the basement. Thus I would never have to worry about emptying the bucket.

It was fine for weeks but one day I came down into the basement and found the floor all wet around the unit. The bucket-full switch failed. The switch is totally broken. Water didnít hurt because the basement is unfinished, but I would hate to see what would have happened if I had the unit upstairs.

Seems like your plan is good, but I was wondering is there any way you could use 2 kill-switches in tandem? In case one fails the other would shut off the dehumidifier? Guess Iíve been spooked by the overflow experience I had.LOL (I donít really care about the bucket-full switch because in my case I never intended to use the bucket anyway!)

What is the name/model number of the switch you found? I canít read it from the pic and Iíd like to know what I could use for future projects.
 
  #4  
Old 11-04-12, 03:04 AM
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Yeah, my one concern is once I have the whole contraption set up (as Chris Christie said last week, 'If it looks like a stupid idea, it probably is'), it will be in the "main room" in the basement. Now, it gets very, very little traffic - but there's always the chance we'll have guests that sleep in there. (It's happened twice in ten years).

My other option is the big walk-in closet off the same room, but I don't know that it will get the air circulation it needs to accomplish quite what I want.

There are essentially two kill steps in my scenario.

The dehumidifier runs into the condensate pump; when it fills, it throws the water out. If the tank on the pump OVERfills, there's a float switch that kills the circuit (I've tested that wiring, all's good). Now, what if that float switch sticks?

That's why I'm putting it in a drain pan with the kill switch - if the float switch in the pump fails, everything starts running into the pan. Once the kill switch detects water in the pan, it shuts down the circuit.. Yes, the water will just stand there until I return, but that's better than everything running.

And the odds of both switches failing seem to me astronomical. (I think I mentioned in the OP that I've got an identical condensate pump running my other dehumidifier for 6+ years, no problems).

As far as the switch, it's a "micro switch for A/C drain pans" is how I eventually described it to an AC technician - who instantly knew what I was talking about. So now I know I can check the internet, but luckily - after half a day wasted - I know exactly where to pick one up.

This one is made by Hartell, the p/n on the bag is B17-303, but the switch itself is labeled M/N J-100. It's listed as a "Low Voltage Safety Switch for Condensate Drain Pans".
 
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Old 11-04-12, 10:13 AM
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Gotcha rj. I think you must be correct about the odds of both those switches failing. I didnít read carefully enough to see that your plans already included a backup switch. Seems like your plan is really good, I donít see how there are any flaws in that plan?

Everything I read about dehumidifying as far as I remember would indicate even a large walk-in closet would not be appropriate, as you seem to be thinking. But of course Iím no expert.

Very interesting: ďmicro switch for A/C drain pansĒ. Turns out my drain pan is in the attic and there is a bad re-plastered spot on the ceiling right below in a bedroom. I always thought either someone installing the unit put their foot through the ceiling or there was overflow from the pan. Think Iíll try one of the micro switches. Would make me feel better.

Thanks for all the details on that switch. Iím sure Iíll be using it.

If there is a flaw in your plan I would sure like to hear what it is myself.LOL

Good luck!
 
  #6  
Old 11-05-12, 01:48 PM
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I'm thinking instead of going into the washing machine drain pipe, running the condensate pump into the overflow tube if the toilet.

So, tell me: What can go wrong with THAT?
 
  #7  
Old 11-05-12, 05:09 PM
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I'm thinking instead of going into the washing machine drain pipe, running the condensate pump into the overflow tube if the toilet.

So, tell me: What can go wrong with THAT?


OK rj, I'll be the one that bites (had too much to drink at dinner,LOL).

Are you just funnin with us?LOL
 
  #8  
Old 11-05-12, 08:09 PM
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Dead serious.

This thing is going to be unattended for months at a time. When the house is empty, I turn the water supply off.

To get to the washing machine drain pipe, I have to bore through concrete block. To get to the back of the toilet, I have to poke through drywall.

I would presume the toilet overflow valve can handle the sporadic burst of about a pint of water from the condensate pump, but I want to double check.
 
  #9  
Old 11-06-12, 10:13 AM
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OK rj gotcha. (I just thought you might have been in a mischievous mood like I get sometimes. LOL)

That does sound like a pretty clever idea to me (but Iím no pro). I can sure see how it would be much more preferable to go through the drywall. That drain path you are contemplating seems like it would be totally unobstructed and would always be there? What could go wrong? Doesnít seem like anything?

I bet you are correct about the toilet overflow valve handling that low sporadic burst. What is needed here is one of the real plumbing experts here to chime in to see if they can see a flaw.

If one of the experts doesnít chime in I wonder if it would be worthwhile for you to do your own test and see what the draining capacity through the overflow valve would be? Seems like the output from your pump wouldnít be a problem at all?

Hope the pros jump in!

p.s. you seem to be a very creative thinker. Maybe you should run for office, we need some creative thinking there.LOL
 
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Old 11-06-12, 02:08 PM
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Rather than running the discharge to the toilet tank why not bend a piece of copper tubing into a U shape and hang it over the edge of the bowl and then setting the seat/lid down to hold it in place? The larger capacity of the toilet bowl and the larger drain capacity compared to the tank overflow would preclude ANY possibility of overflow.

I will also state that leaving a house unattended for a long period of time is an open invitation to squatters and transient coming and and setting up shop. Same is true of meth "cookers" as well and these are a far greater problem than a bit of mildew.

My suggestion is that you try to get a tenant who will watch over things for a break in the rent. There are actually agencies that help you find responsible people that will do this.
 
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Old 11-06-12, 06:16 PM
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I figured going in the back of the toilet and under the tank cover looked better than going into the bowl. What would you suppose the possibility of overflow is on the, er, overflow tube?

I don't trust my PARENTS in my house for more than a few days if I'm not there... Strangers? Forget about it! (But, yes, I do worry about popping in some day and finding the cast of "Breaking Bad" hanging out.)
 
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Old 11-08-12, 05:49 AM
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What about putting the dehumidifier on a sturdy shelf above the height of the washer standpipe? Then it can just gravity drain into the washer standpipe, which unless it's already clogged, shouldn't give you any issues whatsoever.

The shelf would have to be quite sturdy, and probably have some kind of bracket or something so the dehumidifier doesn't vibrate itself off over time. The whole KISS principle.

But... I would worry a bit about running a dehumidifier 24/7? Do you mean leaving it on, and it cycles normally? Or is it really damp enough in your basement to require it running 24 hours a day? If it's running more than half time, I would either get a larger dehumidifier or use multiple ones. I can't imagine the motors and compressors are made to run constantly.
 
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Old 11-08-12, 05:56 AM
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Hmm. So the dehumidifier has a bucket, right? Why don't you put the
condensate pump in the bucket. Then if the pump fails to operate and the dehumidifier continues to run, the bucket will fill up and the float switch in the dehumidifier will shut the unit off when the bucket gets full.
 
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Old 11-08-12, 03:47 PM
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Both good ideas - the washing machine is tucked back in a closet, so I'm afraid it wouldn't get the ventilation. And yes, I mean it's "available" to kick in and out 24/7 - really, I mean to leave it "Unattended 24/7".

The bucket isn't big enough to hold the condensate pump, although that is certainly an intriguing idea!
 
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Old 11-08-12, 04:31 PM
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Is it a big condensate pump or a small dehumidifier?
 
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Old 11-09-12, 07:40 AM
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the washing machine is tucked back in a closet, so I'm afraid it wouldn't get the ventilation
Could the dehumidifier be placed on a shelf outside the closet, or 10' away, and just piped to the washer drain? As long as you have a bit of pitch on the drain line, it could be as far away as needed.
 
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Old 11-09-12, 09:03 AM
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Clever idea having the condensate line pump into the toilet overflow pipe That pipe joins the water in the bowl so as long as the toilet isn't plugged it will never overflow. Added benefit to your unique situation--your unused toilet will likely never dry up & fill the basement with raw sewer gas.

I wonder how many people have an "emergency backup house"
 
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Old 11-09-12, 09:10 AM
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I also like the idea of putting the dehumidifier and pump in the same overflow-protected tub. Just put them on a platform (cinder blocks?) so they won't actually be running in standing water if things do go awry. Probably won't do the compressor & fan any good running under water! Cinder block would be good & solid to attach that float switch to.
 
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Old 02-22-13, 07:53 PM
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Back At It

If I ran it into copper tube and into the toilet bowl, as Furd suggests, I could get away without the condensate pump, even.

Right?
 
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Old 02-23-13, 04:10 AM
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Not sure if this would fit your situation aesthetically, but could you build a sturdy shelf or table high enough to sit the unit on so that gravity would carry the water to the wash drain without a pump?
 
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Old 02-25-13, 08:21 PM
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The only drains available are the washing machine (which is about three feet above ground level) and the toilet. The washing machine is in a closet so there's no air circulation.

My options are condensate pump to throw up into the washing machine drain, or to run into the toilet.
 
 

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