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HQ 968027

JUNE 21, 2006



TARIFF NO.: 8516.10.0080

Tower Group International, Inc.
205 West Service Road
Champlain, NY 12919

RE: Electrode Steam Humidifiers; HQ 958017 Revoked

Dear Sirs:

In HQ 958017, which the Director, Tariff Classification Appeals (now Commercial and Trade Facilitation) Division, Headquarters, issued to you on February 13, 1996, on behalf of Nortec Industries, Inc., Ogdensburg, NY, certain electrode steam humidifiers were found to be classifiable as other electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in [chapter 85], in subheading 8543.80.75, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).

Pursuant to section 625(c), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed revocation of HQ 958017 was published on May 17, 2006, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 40, Number 21. No comments were received in response to this notice.

As stated in the May 17 notice, HQ 958017 represents a decision on a protest filed with the Port Director, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Ogdensburg, NY, on behalf of Nortec Industries, Inc. Therefore, CBP’s revocation of HQ 958017 will affect the legal principles in that decision but the liquidation or reliquidation of the underlying entries remains undisturbed. See San Francisco Newspaper Printing Co. v. United States, 620 F. Supp. 738, 9 CIT 517 (1985).


The humidifiers were described in HQ 958017 as creating steam which is used to add moisture, i.e., humidity, to the air that passes through a furnace. The steam is produced by means of hot water produced by an electric current generated between electrodes immersed in the water. The model NHMC humidifier is imported with a blower unit, which is in a separate housing that is mounted to the humidifier, while the model MES humidifier is imported without a blower unit, in which case the furnace blower is utilized to propel the steam and air stream through ductwork and into the environment. Both models are operated by microcomputer.

Submitted literature identifies humidifiers with design features and specifications that suggest industrial applications. The cycle of operation is described “On demand from the humidistat, the primary contractor is energized; the fill solenoid opens and allows water to enter the cylinder through the fill cup; current flows between the electrodes in the water; once full load amps are reached the fill valve closes; as water boils away the low amp trigger reactivates the fill valve; pure steam is discharged, the water-borne minerals are left behind in the cylinder gradually increasing water conductivity; auto-drain takes over only when water is fully concentrated.”

The humidifiers were entered under subheading 8479.89.10, HTSUS, which provides for machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter, electromechanical appliances with self-contained electric motor, air humidifiers or dehumidifiers. They were classified in liquidation under subheading 8419.19.00, HTSUS, which provides for nonelectric instantaneous or storage water heaters. HQ 958017 held that neither of these provisions described the humidifiers and they were classified in subheading 8543.80.75, HTSUS.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Electric instantaneous or storage water heaters and immersion heaters;; other electrothermic appliances of a kind used for domestic purposes;; parts thereof:

8516.10.00 Electric instantaneous or storage water heaters and immersion heaters

Electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in [chapter 85]; parts thereof:

Other machines and apparatus:




8543.89.96 (formerly 80.75) Other


Whether electrode steam humidifier models NHMC and MES are goods of heading 8516.


Under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), goods are to be classified according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Though not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. U.S. Customs and Border Protection believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

Initially, we are aware that air humidifiers and dehumidifiers which are electromechanical appliances with self-contained electric motor are provided for by name in subheading 8479.89.10, HTSUS. HQ 958017 noted that fact but concluded both heading 8479 and heading 8543, by their terms, must yield to a heading or headings which more specifically describe the humidifiers, either in Chapters 84 or 85, or elsewhere in the HTSUS.

HQ 958017 discounted heading 8516, electrothermic appliances of a kind used for domestic purposes, on the basis that the provision was limited to domestic-type appliances. This is incorrect. The provision in heading 8516 for electric instantaneous or storage water heaters and immersion heaters is not circumscribed by the requirement that that they be for domestic purposes. We have again considered this provision and now believe that it describes the merchandise at issue.

The 85.16 ENs, under (A) ELECTRIC INSTANTANEOUS OR STORAGE WATER HEATERS AND IMMERSION HEATERS, describe (4) Electrode hot water boilers in which an [alternating current] AC passes through the water between two electrodes. Thus, electrode hot water boilers produce hot water. The term boiler frequently is used to describe appliances that produce both steam and hot water. The Institution of Electrical Engineers (lEE) publishes The Electrician’s Guide, 16th Ed. which defines an electrode heater or boiler as a device which heats the water contained, or raises steam. www.tic-direct.co.uk/Book/7.11.2.htm. Further, the website for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) contains a reference to the Herrmidifier Company that offers the Herrtronic MD series self-contained electrode boilers, designed for steam humidification systems in computer rooms, telecommunication switchgear facilities and laboratory cleanrooms. www.ashrae.org. This information warrants the conclusion that the function of electrode boilers is to produce hot water with steam being a byproduct for the purpose of introducing moisture into the air (humidity). Such apparatus is provided for in heading 8516. This finding eliminates heading 8543 from consideration.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the electrode steam humidifiers, models NHMC and MES, are provided for in heading 8516. They are classifiable in subheading 8516.10.0080, HTSUSA.


HQ 958017, dated February 13, 1996, is revoked. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin.

for Gail A. Hamill

Myles B. Harmon, Director
Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division

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