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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    5

    "Air Tight Home" Sick

    I have a few questions, please. We bought our so called Energy Star Rated, Spray Foamed, Air Tight home in July of 2011. We have been sick constantly non-stop since several months after moving in. We recently had an I.A.Q. test & A.C. evaluation done. The findings are disturbing! We have a fresh air intake vented to the outside that goes into the air handler after the filter. The air is not filtered and what makes it worse is that the vent is located directly over the outdoor a.c./heat pump & over-sized gas pool heater. Next thing that bothers me is that there is no screen or anything keeping birds or anything else out of the vent. Are there any regulations/standards or codes? Could this be affecting our health and the high humidity in the house?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    5
    This is not any sort of mechanical device. Also we live in Central Florida & the fresh air vent is run directly over garage (the IAQ guy question this as well).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    6,257
    Quote Originally Posted by rja View Post
    I have a few questions, please. We bought our so called Energy Star Rated, Spray Foamed, Air Tight home in July of 2011. We have been sick constantly non-stop since several months after moving in. We recently had an I.A.Q. test & A.C. evaluation done. The findings are disturbing! We have a fresh air intake vented to the outside that goes into the air handler after the filter. The air is not filtered and what makes it worse is that the vent is located directly over the outdoor a.c./heat pump & over-sized gas pool heater. Next thing that bothers me is that there is no screen or anything keeping birds or anything else out of the vent. Are there any regulations/standards or codes? Could this be affecting our health and the high humidity in the house?
    What part of the country are located in? Size of the home? %RH? Number of occupants? Have you approached your builder about this problem?
    Regards TB
    Bear Rules: Keep our home <50% RH summer, controls mites/mold and very comfortable.
    Provide 60-100 cfm of fresh air when occupied to purge indoor pollutants and keep window dry during cold weather. T-stat setup/setback +8 hrs. saves energy
    Use +Merv 10 air filter. -Don't forget the "Golden Rule"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    5
    We live in Central Florida, home size is 3600 sq. ft., RH rises from 52% when home is at rest to 57% when a.c. is running. Number of occupants is usually 3 for half the day until about 4pm then 6 people. We have one a.c.unit 3.5 tons, 15 seers. The builder/a.c. company finally put in dual zones, upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs by the end of the day is fine in the loft 77 degrees, but our bedrooms and master bath can get as high as 85-86 degrees. Humidity in those rooms can get in the 60's. We have notified the builder over 100X and the a.c. has been in here about 30-40X. They just stopped coming when we told them we were going to get an I.A.Q. assessment done.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    6,257
    Quote Originally Posted by rja View Post
    We live in Central Florida, home size is 3600 sq. ft., RH rises from 52% when home is at rest to 57% when a.c. is running. Number of occupants is usually 3 for half the day until about 4pm then 6 people. We have one a.c.unit 3.5 tons, 15 seers. The builder/a.c. company finally put in dual zones, upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs by the end of the day is fine in the loft 77 degrees, but our bedrooms and master bath can get as high as 85-86 degrees. Humidity in those rooms can get in the 60's. We have notified the builder over 100X and the a.c. has been in here about 30-40X. They just stopped coming when we told them we were going to get an I.A.Q. assessment done.
    A 3,600 sqft. home needs an air change in 4-5 hours to purge the indoor pollutants and renew oxygen to have indoor quality. This is according to Amer Sc of Heating and A/c ASS. How does your home get the fresh air? They also suggest Maintaining <50%RH through the year.
    You may need legal help.

    Green grass climates with 100 cfm of fresh outside air and 6 occupants have 6 lb. per hour dehumidification load when the outdoor dew points are plus 70^F. Is you a/c big enough or not ducted properly to cool to 75^F, 50%RH during typical cooling days? When the outdoor temps are low while the moisture loads are high, you will need a whole house dehumidifier, like the Ultra-Aire, to remove the 6 lbs. moisture load.
    Usually, well insulated home like yours have a very small sensible cooling load with normal latent cooling load.
    I would suggest also to have whole house dehu with ventilation connected to your central a/c. The dehu will blend and filter your fresh air with your air in the home, filter both, and circulate the air throught your home via the a/c ducts. This will maintain <50%RH throughout the home regardless of the cooling load.
    Your a/c needs some tweeking, no doubt.
    Keep us posted.
    Regards TB
    Bear Rules: Keep our home <50% RH summer, controls mites/mold and very comfortable.
    Provide 60-100 cfm of fresh air when occupied to purge indoor pollutants and keep window dry during cold weather. T-stat setup/setback +8 hrs. saves energy
    Use +Merv 10 air filter. -Don't forget the "Golden Rule"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    23
    If I were you I would look into the building codes in your area. Maybe have an inspector come out to see if everything is good. If it's not, have a little "chat" with your builder.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Atlanta GA area
    Posts
    20,856
    Hmmm...

    Sounds like there are lots of issues which need attention... yet where to start?

    IMO get a FULL energy audit by an independent source. They need to evaluate the following items (among many others):
    1) Load calculation as to heat gain and heat loss... this is how the heating and AC is sized. This load calc needs to be room by room as well as whole house... the room by room determines the size of ducts that run to each room.
    2) You need a 'blower door' test, and a 'duct blaster' test. Your energy auditor will know what these terms mean. If they do not... find someone that does.
    3) As Teddy Bear said you need regular air-changes in the home, or you will remain sick until you move. An IAQ specialist who knows what they are doing (and understands heating and AC and ventilation) will be able to make suggestions for this.

    OK, now to some basics: The fresh air intake for the heat and AC system should be BEFORE the filter, and it should NOT be sucking in fumes from the pool heater. Point these things out to the installing heat and AC contractor and request they are fixed. If they fuss, call a city inspector out. There is a potential for CO (carbon monoxide) poisoning from that pool heater... I am not a bit surprised you are sick. If you can find a heating and AC contractor with certification in 'carbon monoxide safety', call them out for an evaluation. The findings may stir the pot. I would get a 'low level CO detector' (be SURE it is a low level, as the basic ones are not sensitive enough).

    You are probably going to have to get legal help with the builder... it sounds like he/she (builder) built a 'too tight' house. There is more to an energy efficient house than tighter... it is not as easy as just using foam instead of batts and blown in attic insulation.

    Best of luck to you, we would like to hear how this works out.

    Hey E_R_LA... care to get involved in this one...
    GA-HVAC-Tech

    Quality work at a fair price with excellent customer service!

    Romans Ch's 5-6-7-8

    2 Chronicles 7:14

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    5
    Thank you for the replies! A little update, the contracted A.C. company has stopped coming out. Not that it mattered much anyway since they never actually fixed anything the 30+ times they have come out. We have had several blower door tests done, not one was good, IAQ tests showed that it would be safer to live outside if it were not for the alligators. Five of the 6 people living here have sinus, upper respiratory infections constantly and now asthma. From day one we put in warranty claims for the a.c., I even voiced concerns that the air was thick almost heavy feeling and stagnant. We have contacted building code, code enforcement, health dept, environmental health dept and the commissioner for our area and they would not do anything. I have contacted the EPA and state E.H. Air Quality Dept and finally someone is going to investigate, but that still doesn't give our family a safe place to sleep without waking up at night coughing and gasping for air. We found just this week that there is an even more disturbing and more harmful threat in the house. We are in the process of moving out of our Dream Home and renting.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    131
    Depending on the permit date of your home it would have been built to the 2007 or 2010 Florida energy conservation code

    Chapter 4 section 403.5 states the code requirement for ventilation.

    http://ecodes.biz/ecodes_support/fre...FL_Energy.html

    If your home was Labeled as an "EnergyStar Home" it should have a label on the electric panel. Do you have this?

    EnergyStar homes are required to meet the ventilation requirements of "ASHRAE 62.2" An estimate based on the info you supplied, ASHRAE 62.2 would specify about 81 cubic feet a minute delivered 24 hours a day.

    What were the results of your blower door test results? usually shown as xx ACH50

    The pool heater may have been added after the house was inspected. That could be the fault of the person who installed that.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "The only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion and studying all modes in which it it can be looked at by every character of mind.
    No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this."
    John Stuart Mill

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    5
    Our House was built to the 2010 Florida energy conservation code. And unfortunately for us our house was not inspected properly by either the county inspector, the third party energy star certification inspector or the V.A. inspector. As for the little blue label that is supposed to be there, it was supposed to be given to us the day we closed on the house so that we could affix it ourselves. There was only a paper stating that we passed. Didn't think much of it that day because they said it must be at the office and they would send it to us within a week. Finally almost a year and a half later it came in the mail. The same guy that did the blower door test was the Energy Star Inspector. In his report he states that the outcome was not good but never gave xx ACH50. And finally addressing the pool heater and the AC/Heat Pump Compressor directly below the Fresh Air Intake, no one even knew it was a fresh air intake for 8 months that we lived there because it had a flap on it. The pool people thought it was an exhaust vent. AND yes the county inspected all that too. Inspections and Energy Star just seems to be nothing more than a joke.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Atlanta GA area
    Posts
    20,856
    Quote Originally Posted by rja View Post
    Our House was built to the 2010 Florida energy conservation code. And unfortunately for us our house was not inspected properly by either the county inspector, the third party energy star certification inspector or the V.A. inspector. As for the little blue label that is supposed to be there, it was supposed to be given to us the day we closed on the house so that we could affix it ourselves. There was only a paper stating that we passed. Didn't think much of it that day because they said it must be at the office and they would send it to us within a week. Finally almost a year and a half later it came in the mail. The same guy that did the blower door test was the Energy Star Inspector. In his report he states that the outcome was not good but never gave xx ACH50. And finally addressing the pool heater and the AC/Heat Pump Compressor directly below the Fresh Air Intake, no one even knew it was a fresh air intake for 8 months that we lived there because it had a flap on it. The pool people thought it was an exhaust vent. AND yes the county inspected all that too. Inspections (govt employed inspectors) just seems to be nothing more than a joke.
    They have their place... however truly knowing what they are doing is not one of those places IMO.
    GA-HVAC-Tech

    Quality work at a fair price with excellent customer service!

    Romans Ch's 5-6-7-8

    2 Chronicles 7:14

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    131
    Is your home part of a large development built by a large scale production builder?
    It's sad but some builders go with the low bid contractors and when nobody inspects the work and holds them accountable the homeowner gets taken advantage of.
    "The only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion and studying all modes in which it it can be looked at by every character of mind.
    No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this."
    John Stuart Mill

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    south louisiana
    Posts
    3,137
    so what was the blower door reading?
    "We have had several blower door tests done, not one was good,"
    I don't understand what constitutes a not good blower door test,
    as the test is to determine how tight the house was built.
    knowing the air changes per hour determines sizing of fresh air intake.
    it is part of the formula ...see link below.

    your 'fresh air intake' with no filter goes to airhandler and not return?
    it probably goes to return..I hope.

    you should have a filter and not just a flapper at exit of fresh air intake.
    I usually use a 12"x12" filter grill with filter ducted to return plenum.
    barometric damper, motorized damper, or fresh air intake of dehumdifier.
    I'm not a fan of erv, because of cost..better use of that $$ is whole house
    dehumidifier with fresh air intake. you get fresh air plus the additional
    dehumidification we need in our hot and very humid climate.
    this way you filter air entering the house & dehumidify it before
    it enters the living space.
    with any type of air intake, you shoud have an easily acessable filer to change
    monthly.


    as we build tight, then we have to ventilate correctly.

    it has been pretty haphazard in the past, but since ASHRAE came out
    with 62.2 ventilation strategy..there is a method. sadly your hvac company
    (heating VENTING air conditioning) isn't current on this requirement.
    there is a silence where there should be communication between foam insulators
    who make houses tight, and hvac contractors who don't understand to correctly size
    the unit and properly vent the house.

    http://www.americanaldes.com/library...-standard-622/

    this link breaks it down in an understandable way I think.
    but I wouldn't use bath fans in your situation but a dedicated fresh air intake.

    it makes sense that your RH increases in Fla when more people are in the house.
    more activity, more people.

    to solve high RH, and fresh air intake... you could install a whole house dehumidifier
    with its own dedicated fresh air intake. this to me would be the best way to go.
    you have had enough sickness & dicking around by people who don't have a clue.
    time to just fix the problem.

    you have access to a great resource in Teddy Bear. not sure where you are in relation
    to where he is in Fla...but TB is who I'd be talking to about set up of this type system.

    you should also move your intake. I usually put the filter back grill in the ceiling of porch
    or patio or soffit. just not on north side, and someplace you will remember to change the filter
    on a regular basis.

    best of luck.

    thanks ga for the pm
    The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole. ~Plato

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