3 Issues HVAC contractors Should Know About Impacting Customer Comfort and Health

There is an epidemic of people suffering in many of the 100 million homes across the U.S.  Many of your customers are living in uncomfortable and unhealthy homes, and are wasting money trying to heat and cool their homes.

Even after HVAC contractors have installed higher efficiency, properly sized equipment in their homes, many are still getting call backs from customers because they have rooms and entire homes that remain too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.  The HVAC equipment is working, but the home is not! 

Poor indoor air quality, made worse in many homes that have air handlers and leaky ducts in attics, is contributing to illnesses like asthma and allergies for families living in these homes.

Because of this epidemic, homeowners are wasting money, and experiencing higher heating and cooling bills than they should.

3 issues present in many homes are casing this epidemic of discomfort and poor health: 

1.  Insulating Attics without Air Sealing Attic Floors

When homeowners are too cold or too hot, they may call an insulation contractor to add or install insulation into their attics.  Unfortunately, most of these contractors do not air seal the attic floor before adding or installing insulation.

Penetrations in the air and thermal boundary between the attic and the conditioned space are completely ignored!  Pipe and wire penetrations, can lights, chimney chases, top plates, drop down stairs and other gaps and cracks in the attic floor are places that the air homeowners paid to heat in winter can leak into the attic.  Since many attics are ventilated, this air is lost to the outside.  Heat from super- hot attics in the summer can migrate into the home, increase the cooling load in living spaces.  Unsealed attic floors leads to rooms and homes that are uncomfortable and difficult to heat in winter and cool in summer. 

The air flowing through all these gaps and cracks also deposits dirt and dust in fiberglass batts.  Dirty insulation has a reduced ability to resist heat flow between the attic and conditioned areas in the home, increasing heating and cooling loads in the home and making people to hot in summer and too cold in wintertime. Heating and cooling systems must run longer to deliver comfort to the home, increasing fuel and electric bills and wasting peoples’ money.

Plus, warm moist air leaking through these gaps and cracks into cold, winter attics condenses on the underside of roof decks, which can lead to mold.  This can contribute to unhealthy indoor air quality, leading to sick homeowners!  

2.  Not Enough (or ANY) Insulation on Attic Floors

Attics that are ventilated are considered outdoor space, and are very cold in the winter and extremely hot in the summer.  Most attics do not have enough insulation on the attic floor to resist the movement of heat through the insulation.  Homebuilders and insulation contractors don’t add or install enough insulation to deliver adequate resistance to heat flow to and from the attic space and the living area.  This makes the upstairs ceilings very hot, turning them to indoor radiant heaters during the summer.  In wintertime, heated air rises to the top of the house, and conducts through the dry wall ceiling and into the attic, making it more difficult to keep your customers warm and comfortable in wintertime. 

3.  Ducts in Attics

Ducts in attics are a major contributor to this epidemic. Many homes have heating and cooling systems with ductwork in their attics, the most hostile area of the home.  Attics can be 130 degrees or hotter in the summer.  Uninsulated or under-insulated ducts in attics act as reheating lines.  The cold air homeowners paid to cool gains heat from the very hot attic as the air moves through the ducts to the areas of the home that need to be cooled!  The opposite happens in winter. Ducts act as re-chilling lines, with the air homeowners paid to heat, losing that heat to the cold, cold attics as the air moves through poorly insulated duct systems to the conditioned parts of the home. 

HVAC systems are designed to produce and distribute a certain amount and temperature of air to heat and cool the home.   Unfortunately, a large percentage of that air is lost along the way due to duct leakage.  Up to 47% of the air your customers paid to heat or cool can be lost through holes, gaps and poor connections in ductwork.  If there is an air handler in the attic, it can suck contaminates like mouse feces, mold spores and dust from the attic into the ducts.  These contaminates are distributed right into the living areas, potentially causing and making it worse for allergy and asthma suffers.  Placing ducts in attics is possibly the worst decision made by builders and contractors.

These problems and the epidemic of discomfort and poor health they cause create a tremendous opportunity for HVAC contractors.  You are in the best position to add air sealing and insulation products and services to the jobs you’re currently selling and installing.  Your customers and prospect are already contacting you to solve their comfort and indoor air quality issue.  In many parts of the country, you already have sales and service people in attic, literally stepping over these added sales opportunities.  

In reality, if you’re not sealing up attic floors and ducts in attics, and insulating attic floors to reduce heating and cooling loads, you could be installing over-sized equipment and you may not be offering a comprehensive and complete comfort solution to your customers. 

And here’s the kicker – your customers are buying insulation now – so it might as well be you that helps them buy the right job, installed the correct way!

 

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Comment by Kent Mitchell on November 8, 2017 at 11:35am

One of the big culprits we have found is lack of 6-sided enclosures.   Knee walls are the most common.  Blame falls on the HVAC but its really not their fault.

Comment by Kevin Miller on October 30, 2017 at 12:15pm

Thanks Marc.  Done and posted here:  https://www.facebook.com/PAEnergyAuditors/

Comment by Marc Tannenbaum on October 30, 2017 at 12:04pm

Kevin,

Use the link from our website: https://www.atticsystems.com/about-attic-systems/news-and-events/30... and post it as a Status on his page, then everyone can see it.

Thanks,

Marc

Comment by Kevin Miller on October 30, 2017 at 11:45am

Thanks Marc.   Is there a way to link this to Facebook in a way that would allow my followers to read the article?  Most of them wouldn't be members on homeenergypros.org.   

Comment by Gregory E Miller on October 27, 2017 at 7:55am

Thanks for sharing such informative post here. These are the major issues which should be kept in mind by any contractor so that they can serve the best service to their customers. There are many professional contractors like plumbing Morris County NJ, webster plumbing and heating, pip work service and many more who gives their best service to their customers regarding any kind of plumbing or heating. Such experts know all the basic and important tips which makes their service worth hiring.

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