Cousteau Bye Day

No, we aren't going anywhere, but Bye Day is about as close to sports lingo as I ever get.  Monday was a travel day for crews and a detailing and paperwork day for me.  I also had the opportunity to visit the home of my client's Mother.  Like a handsome stone monastery perches over a nearby lake.  Really spectacular. But as amazing as the house is, the gardens are truly amazing.

On Sunday my HVAC contractor arrived to access the house and the repairs that we needed to address.  Here's were my sermon starts.  Even though a home inspection was done on the property a short time ago, the boilerplate text that is used "have the units checked by a licensed contractor" doesn't begin to address the clearly visible issues about which the purchaser ought to have been warned.  Two are shown below.

Gray flex duct installed in the 80's has in most cases failed due to exposure to heat and UV rays.  Once the outer coating fails, the insulation begins to all away from the duct.  It also is supposed to work as a vapor barrier.  Any break in this insulation allows the humidity in the attic to condense upon the ductwork within the insulation.  Soggy insulation is never a good thing.  You can see this in the image at left.

In the image at right you can see the mould that is growing on the outside of an air handler.  Imagine what the interior of the ducts look like.  So what causes this?  Humidity is the culprit.  When a home isn't cooling, a homeowner usually believes that the units just aren't big enough.  That is not always the case.  In fact, I would say it seldom is the really issue.  Systems that are improperly balanced, or do not have the correct amount of circulation will also fail to keep a home comfortable.  The air handler is like a big pump, pulling air in and pushing it out.  The amount that is pulled in should equal the amount that is being conditioned (heated or cooled) .  So imagine the square footage of all the supply grills in your home and the square footage of all the return air grills in your home.  Are they equal?  Is there an adequate amount of air moving to keep the house comfortable?  Maybe your home has a few central returns that may seem large enough, but if the air can't get to them because doors to rooms are closed, then they just won't work.  Likewise, if the air can't get to the return, it is also not going to flow into the room properly.  It is as different as blowing air into a ballon and blowing air through a straw.

But when a house doesn't feel comfortable, a homeowner will call a HVAC company.  Unfortunately some will say "your equipment isn't big enough" and then sell the homeowner a bigger unit.  This creates even more problems.  When the unit is too large, the air cools too quickly.  Why is this an issue?  The unit also removes humidity from the air, but if it doesn't get the chance to run long enough, the air stays damp and feels thick and warm.  Not a good thing in Summer.  So a new unit is installed, mildew and mold begin to form, people develop allergies, they turn the thermostats down even further to try to be comfortable and the cycle continues in a downward spiral.

Incase you can't tell this is a real issue for me.  Having knowledgeable techs and sub-contractors is critical.  If you don't have them, you can spend lots and lots of money and still have a poor result.  We are fortunate to have the team that we have assembled to address issues such as these.