Archive for July, 2011

I Like My Smoothies

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Especially in the heat of summer. YUM! But, I have to say, I would not try to drink one with a crazy straw, or one with a straw not wide enough. Yep, that straw analogy again, and it makes sense right? Would you go scuba diving with a kink in your air hose (you will have to tell me, I have not had the opportunity to try, but I would probably put that on my equipment safety check before going into the depths.) Well Comfort Delivery Problem #2: The Duct System is restricting air flow relates just to that.

Here is what we know:

  • The proper amount of airflow through your heating and cooling system is critical to its ability to keep your home comfortable.
  • Studies across the country have documented restricted airflow problems in new and existing houses.
  • In one recent study, over two-thirds of the houses checked had low air flow.

The main causes of low airflow include:

  • Return ductwork is too small
  • Too many ductwork bends and turns
  • Poorly designed filtration systems

What you may not realize, is that Restricted Air Flow can lead to

  • Much lower comfort levels
  • Increased utility bills
  • Premature equipment failure

“Did you just say Premature equipment failure?” How can air, that is as light as air, do that? Well let’s revisit the straw analogy and the smoothie. Air, still has velocity, viscosity and mass right? So yes, when you put barriers and restrictions on it, the equipment has to work especially hard to Push and Pull it. Think about a heart pumping blood through our veins and arteries, when they become restricted or less pliable, heart problems result, and the whole body suffers.

This is why I didn’t want you to rush out and seal your ductwork, airflow rates should always be tested and verified by a qualified technician. I hate to say this, but those air leaks could very well be taking the “crazy” out of the crazy straw. In other words, the air leaks are giving the system what it needs to work. Again, a health care analogy: usually when we have heart problems, our lungs work harder to bring in more oxygenated air to compensate. In addition, checking to see that each room in the house is getting the correct amount of airflow is an important part.

In our next blog, we will visit the Comfort Solution for Comfort Delivery Problem #2. Again, please do not hesitate to contact us or to schedule an evaluation by clicking here.

Something Duct Tape Isn’t Good For

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Before you go and grab the most versatile tool in any home owner’s tool box (and no it is not the sledge hammer—although there are times I would find it very satisfying to take one to my computer.) We need to get more in depth on how to identify duct leakage. Only then can we identify the Comfort Solution needed.

I am going to concentrate on ductwork in attics and crawl spaces, as I have eluded to before, oftentimes this ductwork is reachable for you the homeowner, but this applies to all ductwork. With any home project, you should keep your personal safety at the top of list. Please wear protective clothing, masks and eye protection.

Inspect the Duct Insulation. Do you see holes, or exposed insulation? When looking at exposed insulation, is it discolored? If so, this indicates air leaks. Usually it looks grayish or black, and oftentimes, homeowners think this is mold. It could very well contain mold, but usually this discoloration is a result of air leaks. (This is also a good time to take a look around your attic and crawl space at the whole house insulation, you may see areas of discoloration here as well you may want to take note of.)

Where does this air leakage usually occur…at areas where the ducts are connect to each other, to boxes or other fittings. This can be at your registers inside the house as well. Do you see spaces and gaps, even between the register boot and drywall? You also want to take a look at your unit and filter, gaps need to be properly addressed. These are easily identifiable air leaks that can be remedied.

So, now that you know you have air leaks. What is the Comfort Solution to Comfort Delivery Problem #1 (Reference blog: http://www.comfortandefficiency.com/2011/07/drum-roll-please.html?) Permanently seal holes or gaps in ductwork with specially designed sealants. NO DUCT TAPE here, so leave that tool in your tool box. This repair also often involves reconnecting ductwork that has become disconnected, or sealing building cavities being used as part of your duct system. Sometimes the best solution is to install new airtight ductwork (this one will be revisited in Comfort Delivery Problem #2.)

For us, we actually utilize specialized equipment that can quickly test for air leaks in the duct system, and estimate the annual efficiency loss from the duct leakage. And as we apply our solutions, we are always able to verify work quality by re-testing for air leakage before leaving. (You should get what you pay for!)

If would like to tackle this repair yourself, you should know there are extensive resources on the internet regarding duct sealing and duct insulating, some better than others, so please do not hesitate to contact us for guidance. As mentioned earlier, there will be more discussion about this Comfort Solution that you need to be aware of before initiating this repair. We can be contacted here.

I HATE Getting the Straw that is broken

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

I know I am not the only one, to go order a drink and to get the straw that has been bent and broken and has holes. Usually happens when I am really looking forward to that cool, refreshing drink. You take it out of its “holster” (thin paper casing), stick it through the hole at top of the cup (to keep you from wearing it.) And then you dive in, only to realize, the straw is broken. Sure, you can put enough pressure on it to get something from it, but something is definitely wrong….and it is unsatisfying. So you pull the straw out partially, try to seal the hole with your fingers….It is a lot of work. Isn’t it?

Well, Comfort Delivery Problem #1: The duct system has large air leaks is not that different. In fact, if you have any healthcare experience, we are talking about arteries and veins (with a small difference I will explain later.)

But here is the simple of the problem:

  • Duct leaks prevent your heating and cooling system from doings its job properly. Heated or cooled air leaks out of holes or gaps in the supply ductwork before it ever reaches the house (the arteries.)
  • Leaks in the ductwork also pull outside air (hot in summer, cold in winter) into the ducts, forcing your equipment to run longer to keep you comfortable (the veins.) This one I want to revisit further. (the veins)

So what are some of the other issues associated with that?

  • Duct leaks can draw humid outside air into the house, overwhelming the ability of your cooling system to dehumidify. This can cause your house to feel damp even when the air conditioning is running.
  • Duct leaks can also pull pollutants and irritants such as mold, insulation fibers, car exhaust, pollen and dust directly into the house.

Here is my BUT: (and this makes perfect sense) if your ductwork is located in an attic or crawl space it can be easily reached and remedied. Usually when you cannot reach it, it is within your “envelope,” the area defined as your living space. Sure, there is loss there too, but it still being lost in your living space.

So go ahead, look at it. And you should definitely expect a professional, someone like us, too. Oftentimes, air leaks are actually easy to spot with naked eye. You just haven’t been told what to look for yet. But just with the broken straw, I have a mental list of who in my area has the good quality straws that are the least likely to be bent or broken, and who it seems doesn’t. Seems like such a small thing to feel refreshed and satisfied, but something made me start keeping that mental list. In our next blog, I will discuss finding duct leakage in more detail, as always, feel free to contact us if you would like us to evaluate your system (and in case you are in other region of the country or Canada, contact us anyway, we can refer you to professionals such as us in your area.) Just click here.

Drum Roll Please

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Do we really need the fanfare? What are the Five Most Common Problems keeping your heating and cooling system from Delivering Comfort?

See now I have a quandary. Once I list them, will you bear with me a little longer so I can dive into them in more detail one by one? Or do I address one by one and let you compile them in a list? Being an “I like to see the whole picture” type person so I can appreciate the differing parts, you are just going to have to accept I want you know. (Okay, a little secret, I do not know who to attribute this saying too, but it better fits me: I do not see the glass as ½ to empty, nor do I see it as ½ full. I see it as being ½ too big that I even question where 1/2 would even exist.)

So, (and cross my fingers) I do hope you continue to take this discussion further with me, so you have a chance to see the whole as I do. And I hope you ask me questions along the way…this is really good stuff.

The TOP FIVE MOST COMMON PROBLEMS are:

  1. The Duct System has Large Air Leaks
  2. The Duct System is Restricting Airflow
  3. The Wrong Sized Heating and Cooling Equipment was installed
  4. The Heating and Cooling Equipment was installed incorrectly
  5. The House has Large Hidden Air Leaks which Create Hot or Cold Rooms

There are some surprise endings, so let us look forward and continue the “Road Trip!”…I will even lend you the keys to my First Car so we can make this journey truly memorable from the lessons we learn.