Home Hacks – Furnace Humidifier Pan

Home Hacks – Furnace Humidifier Pan

Those of you with older homes might have an older model of Wait-Skuttle drum-style humidifier attached to your furnace. In my case, I’ve got the 45S model, which was very popular “in the old days”:

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Cleaning these humidifiers is always an unpleasant task. Even more so if you have hard water – the evaporation that occurs leaves behind crusts and deposits of calcium that are difficult to remove. The evaporator pad is not worth cleaning – replacement pads are very easy to find at any hardware store, and they are very cheap, around 6 bucks:

humidifier_03If the float assembly is heavily encrusted, that’s pretty easy to deal with too – these are attached with a single screw, so you can just take the float off and give it a good soak in an acidic cleaner. Which brings me to my first tip – check out ZEP cleaners (sold at Home Depot) they are much more affordable than CLR and in my opinion, do an even better job:

humidifier_02Now if your float is in really bad shape, you can find very affordable replacements for that too. And changing out your humidifier float is pretty easy process.

But one thing that I have found very frustrating is the plastic water tray at the bottom of the humidifier. When calcium deposits on plastic, it tends to be very difficult to remove. After many sessions of scrubbing and acid treatments, the plastic tray in my humidifier was in really bad shape. Now you might be lucky enough to find a replacement plastic tray, but for me, it was very difficult to find the 9 inch square replacement for the 45S model humidifier. The other thing that bothered me was having another difficult-to-clean plastic tray… so I came up with an alternate solution.

I realized that metal cake pans are made 9 inch square – so I purchased a “no-stick” heavy-duty one. I found that the pan was the perfect height for the humidifier, but these cake pans do taper a bit upward, so that they are larger at the top (I suspect to make getting cake out easier!) So in order to make it fit perfectly into the humidifier, I had to place the pan vertically on my vise and pound each of the sides inward a bit with a hammer. When you are done, the cake pan will look something like this:

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So once you have squared the top of the pan a bit, it will fit beautifully into the humidifier:

humidifier_05The huge advantage to a metal non-stick pan is that is SO much easier to remove calcium deposits. Generally, they can’t attach themselves to the non-stick surface, so it only takes a few minutes of simple rinsing to get a perfectly clean pan.

To finish, I’ll make one more recommendation – you can buy ammonium chloride packets that work well to keep calcium from building up rapidly in the humidifier water.

humidifier_06Due to nature of evaporation, even with the packets, you can’t hold off cleaning your humidifier forever, but if you use my cake-pan hack, your cleaning will be a lot easier!

3 thoughts on “Home Hacks – Furnace Humidifier Pan

  1. I like your non stick cake pan idea, never thought of that. What I’ve always done is to coat the pan and float with “Vasoline”. The deposits come off easily by scrapping with a putty knife. I have tried those drop in packets they do help a bit. I also have a water softener so I’m sure that helps too.

    1. I clean mine twice a year. You can get away with once a year, but expect it to be a yuckier job. Also, the longer you leave it, the more you risk deposits and dirt obstructing the water flow, potentially causing a leak.

      As I mention in the article, save yourself some misery and use a new evaporator pad when you clean. It’s just not worth the hassle cleaning the old one.

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