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  1. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Near Charlotte NC
    Posts
    51
    Quote Originally Posted by mbarson View Post
    Dog I completely disagree with you. The duct system is the most neglected part of installs that directly affects performance. I wish every consumer knew how important proper duct design is, especially on AC and HP performance. Being a HERS rater myself and helping home owners and builders build Energy Star homes I am well aware of the envelope leakage issues and duct leakage causing pressure problems in the house. Testing ducts and air flow problems make you more aware of bad design. I often tell people here to have an energy audit before changing equipment to provide them information to make smart equipment upgrades. I don't believe the extra money for a 95% furnace is warranted in North Carolina with 3200 HDD, a heat pump would be a good choice. The "box changers" are the ones who neglect the ducts because they don't understand it or don't care... low bid. It is good business to address the customers concerns.
    I probably forget more than I should as far as everything they have done and will be doing. One thing I have failed to mention is they will be installing "tents" over my attic access opening as well as behind my 2 knee wall doors to help with the leakage there. When the blower fan was set up to provide positive pressure it was very obvious I had a lot of leakage in these areas. Aside from my ducts, including returns, they found a lot of leakage around my fireplace, and unfortunately the door going to my garage ( nasty air there! ). A few of my windows had leaks but not as bad as I suspected and I'll be addressing those before the installation.

    It's been an interesting 3 weeks of research and I've learned enough to at least know what I don't know! I know there were many ways to skin this problem and many of them probably would have worked. I went with the company that gave the impresison of knowing the most about the duct system and had the ability to actually measure flow, pressures, velocities, leakage, both home leakage as well as duct leakage. I did give some thought to using a 3rd party to provide this service if I had gone with the zoned system which was proposed to verify thier work, though their quote did not address the home leakage at all ( i.e., the tents ). Course I don't want my house to be too tight as that can create other problems ( NC is notorious for Radon and while that in a nutshell is my work and I'm not as concerned as many are with it, I am aware that a really tight home can create issues with it ).

    In the end, I felt I made a decision that will lead me to a well designed, well installed and well tested duct system along with some nice equipment, probably nicer than I truly needed truth be known. I did get a bit anal about the duct work but some of that also went back to choosing someone I trusted. The guys I worked with on this system are also the guys doing the installation. No salesperson to deal with.

    I do think the other installer could have done a good job and no doubt from our discussions did things in many ways as described here. Biggest problem I had with their quote was (a) the salesperson.. I was ok with the owner but the salesperson irritated me as he was more interested in discussing their awards than he was in discussing the system, (b) although I was promised by the owner that they would perform detailed heat load calcs after the contract was awarded, their initial bid resulted in 2 returns that were undersized and at least 3 supplies that were undersized. These cals were done by the salesperson and the owner did apologize and assured me it would be done right at no cost to me should the calcs result in needing larger of anything. In the end I did feel they could do a good job but I simply had more faith in the more detailed duct installers.

    I have a couple weeks before we get close to the job date so I'll try to get some photos taken of my existing duct system. It's really a bad layout and horrible setup. I had 3 installers who said it "looked fine to them" and they wanted to keep it intact, while another wanted to chang eonly the ductboard trunk but keep the felx duct supplies and boots.

    INterestingly, if everyone had quoted a new duct system + new components, all of the bids would have been within 10-20% of one another. The one I chose was NOT the most expensive but was getting there. I did, though, have a lot of toruble finding installers that made me feel comfortable and when spending this kind of money I simply wanted to feel like I was getting a quality installation without taking unecessary shortcuts. Guess time will tell

  2. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Near Charlotte NC
    Posts
    51
    Quote Originally Posted by dash View Post
    True laekage testing,is time consuming,so expect to pay more to have that done.On a new system,it really shouldn't be needed,if the do it right.

    We test the duct static of every install,that takes a few minutes.
    Dash,

    I kept saying the same thing as I argued with myself between the 2 installers as well as between the levels of complexity. The Zoning guy on a similar equipment install ( no zoning ) would have been about 10-15% cheaper. Course, the tents would have been omitted, flow testing, static pressure testing, velocity testing and so on. I finally gave in to wanting the extra verifications to be performed, especially givenhow miserable we've been the past 2 summers due to a bad installation. I"m sure I could have just as easily gone the other way but will just blame it on you guys for teaching me to do it right lol In reality, it was a tough decision until I listened ot my gut and went with what felt better.

  3. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Near Charlotte NC
    Posts
    51
    Quote Originally Posted by mbarson View Post
    Testing to verify performance is key to knowing you are getting what you paid for. Air flow through the air conditioner is critical to its performance. Refrigerant charge cannot be adjusted correctly without proper air flow. The ability to dehumidify and cool is affected by air flow. Most don't test because they size by rules of thumb and testing would show the system wasn't design properly. I would add that pay back is focused on to much. The added comfort, system reliability and durability, plus the energy savings all should be considered. You could have your duct work installed for a zone system with only the dampers installed to manually adjust the system and add zone control later. A duct blaster test can be done in less than 2 hours, static pressure or flow plate are quick tests. Room CFM is quick also once the hood is set up. "If they do it right" has always been the problem, most don't do it right and the consumer is none the wiser (but they saved money not using the over priced guy that actually designs his systems). And while you are on the subject of leakage has your house been tested for air leaks? Up to 30% of your energy for heating and cooling can be from infiltration through the house.

    If you don't test it's just a guess!
    This is where I ended up with my logic. Again, it worked for me but am sure there are other opinions that may be equally valid for other people and their needs. I paid a slight premium for this testing to be performed but then it is time and labor. I am hoping I can minimize future service cals as a result of what we are doing upfront. In a year or so we'll be revisiting with the downstairs unit. Good news is it isn't in quite as bad of shape.

    For what it is worth, the copany that lost the bid ( not counting the 5 others who also lost ) did commit to performing a thorough heat load/loss calculation. They didn't, though , do any testing after the fact to verify flows, etc and when asked if they measured the static pressure, etc I got an anser that they weighed the freon charigng very carefully. Again, the company I gave the job to just seemed much knowledgable and direct as well as doing exactly what you have outlined here!

  4. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Near Charlotte NC
    Posts
    51
    Quote Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
    Post before and after pics.
    I'll get started on the before pix before it gets hot.. not far from hot now

  5. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Near Charlotte NC
    Posts
    51
    Quote Originally Posted by mbarson View Post
    It sounds like you will be well served. Take some pictures so we can rip on them! Just kidding but do update us. If the price is expensive see if they have financing, it can help, remember this is a long term investment. Make sure you put in a good filter (4 inch merv 8+). Not to add confusion but what is the EER, that is more telling of efficiency between units.
    Oh please rip away.. just hope it is the old ducts and system and not the new lol I'll ask about the financing as the other company had no interest no payments for 12 months. I hate doing that as it always turns into an OH CRAP at the end of the 12 months but it might help a bit. Price wasn't ungodly but it did smell of sulphur a bit compared to what I had expected early one.. then got past sticker shock, read here and decided to do it right would cost. I did NOT though go for anything too exotic.

    I ended up with a Bryant Evolution system, their 315 80% variable speed fan gas furnace and 187A 16-17 Seer AC. The web site says the EER is as high as 11.5. They also included the Perfect Air Purifier with the system and did discuss the ozone aspects of the device. If it doesn't work out, they can provide custom made 3rd party filers to fit at a very reasonable cost including rubber gaskets to seal. I think compared to my now very aging Trane system that was orig a SEER 10 along with it's cheap 3rd party coils, this sytem should work very well.

    Pricey, yes, but I don't think I paid more thna 10% more than the equivalent system from other reliable installers. The cheap bids I received were very cheap in compariso but had things such as " I can run you some bigger duct.. I can do lots with ducts ".

  6. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Near Charlotte NC
    Posts
    51
    Quote Originally Posted by Dog View Post
    WOW ,
    sounds to me like your worries of leakage might have taking all your focus and energy and shortsticked your system,Why would you install an 80% afue furnace that is going to far out weigh a little duct leakage witch could have been easily settled with requesting all duct to be sealed with mastic sealer.Now instead of a nice variable speed 95% afue furnace ,and further more like stated above it does not matter how tightly the duct is sealed if your house is a leaking mess , have a blower door test 9 times out of 10 an energystar rep will perform these and will all tell you if the air is leaking out of the duct witch is inside the home , how fast is the air leaking out of the home is the problem, Bottom line is I see this all the time the home owner gets so focused on one little aspect of something they loose the big picture and the first SALESMAN to satisfiey that little worry sells a whole less system and charges more but the customer thinks they are getting a great deal because they a taking care of the concern they have in this case a 10 duct pressure test and make it sound like a huge deal and charge you out the ass for it, good luck enjoy the gas bill
    Dog,

    I questioned myself ( per other posts here ) about how focused I was on the ventilation apects and the ducts. But, this installer wasn't short changing me on the quipment, either. I just couldn't afford zoning with him. I had another quote that offered a Carrier Infinity zoned system at a very reasonable price, but the installer did not perform load calcs nor did they do any flow testing, etc. This price was about 20% cheaper than the other zoned system bid, and I simply felt it was too cheap to be trustworthy.

    As far as the 80% variable speed furnace, I decided to upgrade from the 80% 2 speed furnace, but wanted to stay away from the 95% stuff due to (a) NC simply isn't cold enough to really go there but (2) more importantly, this furnace is going into the attic and I didn't need the freezing issues. Plus, being upstairs, my downstairs system will carry more of the heating load anyway. I did get a bit anal about the equipment as well, but much less so than I did about the duct design. I hope I ended up with the proper balance between my budget, the components and the installation plus duct design. I did give the most weight to how comfortable I was with the installer and how much I felt they would do a great job. I also had a maximum budget to contend with and I think I exceeded it by less than 2%. I tried to pick the equipment which offered good bang for the buck without going too extreme for my budget or my payback and probably got a bit overboard by going with the Evolution series though with current rebates it wasn't that much more expensive. The only thing I didn't get was the zoning to have the bonus room on it's own t stat but I did fele as if the installers were simply very good and trustworthy. The only smoke they seemed to blow was during the leakage testing

    To anyone reading this post who is like I was.. meaning a bit undecided na d alittle confused... all I cna say is go through the process and after a while you will star tot hear the salepeople's lies and fibs. That led me to going with the installer who seemed ot never fib at all and had the knowledge to make me feel comfortable. That and the help here wa sinvaluable. Only time will tell if I invested wisely but for now I feel good about my odds!

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