Wednesday, October 18th by Marc Tannenbaum
There is an epidemic of people suffering in most 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 of you 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 this epidemic is causing your customers to remain uncomfortable and even causing health issues!
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.
Three major issues are causing this epidemic:
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 your customers paid to heat in winter can leak into the attic and, since the attic is ventilated, be lost to the outside. Heat from super- hot attics in the summer can migrate to 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 people’s 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 – and contributes to unhealthy indoor air quality, leading to sick homeowners! In severe cases, this can lead to serious rot issues and failing roofs.
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 drywall ceiling and into the attic, making it more difficult to keep your customers warm and comfortable in wintertime. Lack of adequate insulation on attic floors significantly impacts the heating and cooling loads in a home.
Ducts in attics are a major contributor to this epidemic. Many homes have heating and cooling systems and 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, with the cold air homeowners paid to cool gaining 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 or uninsulated duct systems to the conditioned parts of the home.
These 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 as well, it can suck contaminates like mouse feces, mold spores and dust from the attic into the ducts, and be 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. Many of you have 100’s if not 1000’s of service agreement customers that can be easily marketed to for these add on products. 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!