Posts Tagged ‘ductwork’

The Heart of the Matter

February 14, 2014

Since this month is  American Heart Month and it seems an appropriate metaphor for our homes. I’ve mentioned some of the similarities already, but here is a big one…

Think of your heating and cooling system as your home’s heart. The ductwork or piping can be like arteries and when it all works well, you stay comfortable.
But there’s a lot more to it than that, the body is a system where all the parts work well together. Homes are like that too. Heating, cooling, distribution, ventilation, roofing, siding, air sealing and insulation all come together and when it works great things can happen. We stay warm or cool comfortable and healthy.
Clearly it can be a complicated system, and I won’t say our advisors are doctors, but they sure know homes and how to make them work at their best. One thing’s for sure, we make house calls!


Image By Chernface141 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

A Healthy Heart is like a Healthy Home!

February 7, 2014

Heart disease is a significant issue for many Americans and encompasses a number of conditions.   The American Heart Association is a great resource to start with if you have concerns.  February is American Heart Month and you may ask what that could possibly have to do with a home.  heart

Where do you start when it comes to a healthy heart? Your doctor is a good place.  Being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease means a change, but it is change you won’t be working at alone, that’s why we visit one doctor for physicals and see a specialist if need be.

We take the same type of scientific approach to diagnosing homes and making recommendations.  We start out as a general practitioner would in your home looking at everything.   When we find something that needs special attention we can bring in the specialists.   It might be the ductwork or the cooling system.  Maybe it’s the insulation in the attic.  But you won’t know until you get that physical and you won’t get better until you take action!

We know Home is Where the Heart is and this month help yourself and your family to a check up for your heart’s sake and also for your home!



Good Equipment Needs Good Air Distribution

October 4, 2013

 DSC_0111 101_0847                      

Duct work, before and after. 

According to the America Lung Association, the indoor air in an average home is 10 times more polluted than outside air. Instead of treating the root cause of the issue – their home – homeowners purchase high-efficiency filters, allergy medicine and other medications to treat symptoms rather than doing something to eliminate the cause.

Many of the upgrades ASI completed on the showcase home demonstrate how homeowners can address the problem instead of just the symptoms.  It is important to seal or replace older ductwork to keep pollutants and irritants from entering our home’s from the attic, or anywhere else considered outside such as a crawlspace or basement. Doing this potentially frees us from medications and air filters later on.  This is the same great work that Allbritten has done for there home energy makeover.

If the furnace is the heart of the system, ducts are the arteries. No matter how healthy the heart may be its efficiency and effectiveness are limited by the ductwork in the home.

Insulation is important as well of course.   Just like our homes, we need to reduce un-controlled airflow in duct work and add the appropriate levels of insulation to keep the heat out in the summer.

Another part of HVAC we don’t always talk about is the V for ventilation.  We want to control the airflow so we know we are getting enough fresh air and that it is indeed fresh!



It’s time to call a new HVAC contractor…

June 25, 2010

Syracuse Advisor John Scipione (we call him “The Master”), passed along a couple more doozies today, more examples of the real life conditions that we run across all too often.

From the “Joists?  We don’t need no stinkin’ joists!” Department, here an unwise contractor decided to figuratively cut corners, and literally cut a floor joist right out.  Folks, these joists are there for a reason.  Namely, to hold your floor up and keep it from bouncing!   The contractor also left a chunk of wood being held up by the electric wiring.  My inspector wouldn’t like that!  We can fix this, but you shouldn’t let a contractor get away with it to begin with.

And why fix an oil leak when you’ve got a bucket (hey, maybe BP should try this)?  An open bucket of fuel oil doesn’t smell too nice in the basement.  Probably a couple other concerns with that, too? 

If your system looks like this, get help!  And one lesson for today is make sure you choose a quality contractor.


More of what ducts should NOT look like

June 17, 2010

The previous poor duct examples of the last couple of days are unfortunately not as isolated as we would like.  And that’s what we often see duct leakage rates of 30% or higher–that 30% of the air that you’ve paid to heat or cool making it’s way outside.  Not very energy-efficient even is you have a 95 AFUE furnace or an 18 SEER AC.  You can good ductwork, sized properly, with smooth transitions, well sealed, and especially if outside your home’s envelope, properly insulated.

Dave Stecher and Duncan Prahl of IBACOS–a company that does research into how buildings work and helps builders and contractors do a better job doing the right thing–forwarded these doozies.  I won’t show you the whole house’s ducts, just a representative example:

Here’s a planned floor joist, hopefully (ah, hope spring eternal with shoddy building practices) directing air to a register.  Using joist and stud bays as duct work isn’t a good idea to begin with, even if done “well”.  These cavities are difficult to seal making leakage a problem.  And they’re not conducive to good air flow.  But picture this sheet metal filling the space (before it was peeled back), and you’ll get the picture of what it looks like.

Now, even when using sheet metal to block air flow, we find leaks at the wood intersections.  How well do you think sweaters and t-shirts work?  That’s what was stuffed on the back side!

Yes, a sweater and a t-shirt.  Not your standard building materials.  But I guess they were handy and installation probably only took a few seconds.  At the right are the articles of clothing.  I’m wondering if someone has a photo of a leg from a pair of blue jeans used as a duct run.  I’ve also got some old shoes and a bike helmet–any ideas how I can make them part of my HVAC system?

The fixed transition here gives you a better idea what the transition should look like.  The duct, transition, and boot are all directly connected and sealed.  We typically use mastic to seal, but the foil tape here looks like it is the proper type of duct tape (not the cloth stuff). 

And you’re much more likely to actually get the right amount of air delivered from your register.  (Not the actual register pictured here–but one from the same house.)

You can take the lowest bid or you can insist that the job gets done right.  The two often don’t happen together.  And if the job isn’t done right, you’ll usually pay more in the long run pumping your conditioned air outside.  Which approach do you prefer?


Bad Ductwork Continued

June 16, 2010

When it rains, it pours, and this could be a good string highlighting bad work.  Not to be outdone, Syracuse Senior Advisor Bill Meadows forwarded this duct masterpiece found during an audit.  Ah, to have watched that decision being mae…”Need better airflow?  Grab some from here.”

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