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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    55

    Effectiveness of balance dampers

    I recently had 2 places out to give me an estimate on a new Trane XL-16i heat pump system. The first place included air balancing (and duct cleaning) in their proposal. The second place told me that air balancing a duct system that isn't new (my house is 13 years old) has a minimal effect on comfort, especially with helping to fix a notoriously cold/hot room above a garage. For new duct systems, this place installs balance dampers in all of the lines. The second place seemed very knowledgeable with what they were saying and are air balance certified with NCI (I do not know if the first company is certified). He said that much of the increased comfort will come from the variable speed air handler and the increase in the amount of air (1200-1400 CFM) being pushed out of the air handler. The second place has a long check list of items they check once a system is installed (including static pressure, air flow, etc). Plus a big plus with the second place is that they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee as well as an unblemished BBB record (First place is bigger and has had 4 complaints over the past 3 years). The first place said that it would take 1-1.5 days to do the installation while the second place is saying 2-3 days. Basically I was wondering if the second place knows what they are talking about in regards to air balancing. Does air balancing an existing system something I should strive for with an install?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,320
    NCI (National Comfort Institute) certification would be a BIG + in the decision making process for me as a homeowner. At the very least, at some level, this contractor has taken a more serious look into the matter of air distribution, admittedly one of the weakest aspects of the trade, particularly in residential work.

    If the second contractor under review lives up to their stated intent of doing a thorough performance analysis (known as "commissioning" in the trade) once the installation is complete, you are dealing with a firm that is rare...the level of residential commisisoning that is typically done is all over the map.

    Oh, as for the variable speed, as long as the "second place" isn't thinking the variable speed equipment will compensate for bad duct design, he's good to go. If he has concerns about your duct system, it is in your best interest to consider having these concerns corrected so you will get the most efficiency and comfort from your new HVAC system.
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    55
    Thanks for the opinion! The second place said that the V/S air handler will help but not completely fix the problem. He basically said that a change in the duct work would be needed and that isn't an easy fix because of the location of the ducts. This place has an "audit checklist" that they go through with the homeowner at the completion of the install to show the performance numbers. I have heard several good recommendations and am definitely leaning toward going with this installer. The guy said that about 95% of their business is from word of mouth and repeat customers. I consider that number pretty impressive.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    North St Paul MN
    Posts
    858
    Go with #2. One red flag that caught my eye with #1, is duct cleaning included in their proposal. Any contractor that offers duct cleaning as part of the solution should be steered clear of.
    I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,108

    Talking

    What's the name of company #2? I'd like to send them a resume. It's been my lifelong dream to work for someone who actually knows what they're doing!
    "There is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    55
    With company A, I guess some of the extra wow stuff they presented may be too good to be true :-) Can I ask why a free duct cleaning with an install is a red flag? I guess all the extras that company A tried to hype such as guaranteed 25% energy savings, next-day installation (the guy seemed to indicate this is always possible for them), a 33 point check after the installation, being a certified Trane comfort specialist and being an installer for Home Depot may just be stuff to try to convince me to go with them. Although the thread recently about Home Depot installers was interesting to read I guess when 3 companies (didn't list the 3rd one here because I just didn't like the sales guy) are quoting me all about the same price and company A's quote includes air balancing of the system and duct cleaning, then the price is probably too good to be true.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    55
    BergerMech - Ready to move to Ohio?!

    Company B definitely seems to be one of a kind and people I know who have used them, love the company for installation and service. Apparently this is one company that when they say they will be at their place, they are. I know that that in of itself is a rarity.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    85
    Quote Originally Posted by s012adh View Post
    BergerMech - Ready to move to Ohio?!

    Company B definitely seems to be one of a kind and people I know who have used them, love the company for installation and service. Apparently this is one company that when they say they will be at their place, they are. I know that that in of itself is a rarity.
    Where in Ohio? What is the company? I am in Cleveland/Akron area and would like to have the name of a quality HVAC company to deal with in the future.

    Thanks...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Office and warehouse in both Crystal River & New Port Richey ,FL
    Posts
    18,836
    Quote Originally Posted by s012adh View Post
    BergerMech - Ready to move to Ohio?!

    Company B definitely seems to be one of a kind and people I know who have used them, love the company for installation and service. Apparently this is one company that when they say they will be at their place, they are. I know that that in of itself is a rarity.

    How about working in New Port Richey??

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    55
    The company is Adams Heating/Cooling located near Dayton, OH.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Office and warehouse in both Crystal River & New Port Richey ,FL
    Posts
    18,836
    You mention "that room above the garage",often they do not get properly insulated,and correcting insulation problems is the solution.

    1.) Knee walls need to be insulated and ,air sealed from the first floor attic.

    2.)If floor trusss were used the insulation needs to be up tight to the floor ,not at the garage ceiling,or insulate and air seal the floor trusses from the first floor attic.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    85
    Quote Originally Posted by s012adh View Post
    The company is Adams Heating/Cooling located near Dayton, OH.
    Thanks, don't want to pay that mileage surcharge!!!

    The search continues....

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    55
    The knee walls and floor are currently insulated to R19. Garage is also insulated and doesn't get below 45 degrees even in sub-zero temperatures. I think the main problem is the extremely low amount of air flow into the room caused by the long run (with a few bends/turns) up to the room. If I put my hand over the registers, very little air comes out of them compared to the other rooms upstairs. Currently two 8" flex runs come off of the main supply in the crawl space, go up in a corner of the garage and then into the bonus room above the garage. I think the biggest question is on how to get the airflow into that room to be more consistent with the airflow in the rest of the house.

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