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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    171
    I am a remodeling contractor. I have a house with an original hvac system and a second hvac system added later when an addition was built. The homeowner complains about cold basement and hot top (2nd) floor and the opposite in the winter. He doesn't want an HVAC contractor to investigate, as he believes it was the guy who put in the second system that messed things up.
    Is there an on-line or other place where I can locate an HVAC engineer or other "neutral" expert (i.e.one who doesn't have anything to sell) who can be retained to inspect the house and diagnose the problem? I am in the Detroit metro area. Thanks!

  2. #2
    I know of a guy for about $500/hr...

    You interested?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    4,970
    we all have something to sell........that engineer is going to sell you his services to tell you what needs to be done. Once you pay for that it might be interesting to see how many things he will add in to cover his butt to make sure it solves the problem. Ok now that he has told you what all it will take , you will probably need blueprints to make sure that is exactly what he has designed. You probably want competative bids so then you take the prints to 3-4 reputable companies and get bids. Now is after all this is installed and does not work you go back to the installer , he informs you to go back to the engineer being he didnt design it . Possibly the engineer points out to you that on the bottom of the print it says that they are not totally responsable either. Have seen that before where it is stated the the installer should be aware that if there is a problem in the desihn that they should be aware of that and allow in the bid what ever it takes to make the system work right. Believe it or not I have actually seen that on mechanical prints that I was looking to bid.....nope I did not turn in a bid. Thought that would be a sucker bid. Oh well I sure you can find someone to evaluate this system if you are willing to pay to have it looked at but I would think you better inform the owner that someone will need to be willing to pay for the information to fix the system. Neutral expert or hvac enginers do not work for free they have something to sell too.....their services. Better realize that up front , somene has to pay for that knowledge

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    4,970
    just thinking about it ....are you the contractor that did the addition that doesnt seem to work? If not are you just being pulled into this in hopes that he can get free information on what it will take to fix it by hoping you will have access to someone that will give free information to you? Not trying to be a jerk but why does he have you envolved in it? Im sure he would not have that big a problem getting names of engeneering companies out of the phone book. Only thing is they charge for that information.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Derby City
    Posts
    3,968
    Important note: The contractor you are referring to has absolutely nothing to do with warm air rising and cold air dropping. There is not a multi-story home around that does not experience some temperature difference between the floors if for no other reason. I am curious as to how the second system contractor "messed things up." I am also confused as to why this individual isn't given an opportunity to 'correct' whatever 'problem' exists, real or perceived. Did you do the remodeling? If so, it doesn't sound like the hvac upgrade was part of your contract. Is that correct? I am just trying to get all the 'players' in the right position. Most everyone here will tell you to stay away from 'home inspectors' as they usually have no more or less expertise in HVAC than the average person. You say "I have a house..............the homeowner complains.........." Is this your house, a house you own, or one you had and sold?
    Everyone has a purpose in life..........even if it's to be a bad example.

    Seek first to understand, before seeking to be understood.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    4,970
    Kinda funny how when you read through more and more of these post , it gets a lot easier seeing through the questions and makes you realize that most of them never like the first answer wether it was answered by someone qualified or not. If you ask it enough , someone will give you the answer you want.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    171

    Locating HVAC expert

    Guys, I hope you read your blueprints better than you read my post. The word "retain" means that yes, the homeowner is willing to pay for an expert's analysis, opinion and advice. And no need for sour grapes either.
    I was not involved in the house previously in any capacity. I will be tearing up the basement and redoing it so this is a good time to address the HVAC problem, which the owners have lived with for several years. In my non-expert opinion, there is a balance issue. The addition to the house is wide-open to the rest of the first floor (no doors or walls), yet is serviced by a separate HVAC. There may be any number of distribution, sun load, insulation or other factors. But I am not an expert.
    I am not trying to solve the problem. I want a source of referrals for an astute engineer or HVAC expert to diagnose the situation. Take temperatures, do calculations and make recommendations. Don't jump the gun to blueprints, etc. Could be as simple as "we need to adjust dampers to get more air here and less there". And no, there aren't any HVAC engineers in the phone book. I have emailed the local ASHRAE chapter but no respose yet.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    68,764
    Good luck in finding an engineer.(really)

    Its always the fault of the last guy to work on the system.
    It might be a balance problem.
    Duct air leak problem.
    Lack of system maintance problem.

    Keep on googling.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    68,764
    Originally posted by beenthere
    Good luck in finding an engineer.(really)

    Its always the fault of the last guy to work on the system.
    It might be a balance problem.
    Duct air leak problem.
    Lack of system maintance problem.

    Keep on googling.
    PS:

    There are a couple engineers on this forum, but they might not be anywhere close ot you.

    Fill out your profile.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Gold Coast of Connecticut
    Posts
    4,656
    Most larger HVAC co. have the knowledge and experience to solve the problems you describe. You know what co. have a large install dept, thats who you want to have come out and look at it. Tell them you need a load calc and recomendations to solve an old problem prior to a remodel.

    The engineering fee could be thousands which could be applied to new equipment and ductwork with a HVAC up-grade!

    Get an HVAC co. out to help you the home owner out of this mess!
    Aire Serv of SW Connecticut- Gas heat, dual fuel and central a/c systems installed and serviced

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    171
    Wow, there is quite a trend here. Everybody wants to talk me out of hiring an engineer! What is it with you guys? Professional envy? He's going to charge me too much, he's going to do this, he's going to do that...

    Freezeking, I do have several very competent HVAC contractors, some quite large. None employ engineers. Based on experience, I fully concur with my customer. The simple truth is that a contractor does not have the analytical skills required for complex situations. Example: A relative bought a few years ago a newly built house, built by a very large national builder in a retirement community. HVAC performance was very poor in this house as well as several others, but perfectly adequate in the vast majority of the community. They didn't get anywhere with the builder, so they hired one HVAC contractor and then another and another. Each contractor sold them various goods and services, none of which helped. Finally they hired an engineer. The guy came with a bunch of instrumentation and did an analysis. His advice: it will never work properly, so crank up the thermostat and leave the bedroom window open in the winter. Or tear down the house. Then the engineer also found out why it was a badly designed system. Most of the houses have basements and the HVAC works fine. For the few houses built on slab, the builder didn't bother ($) to have the system redesigned, so they put in the identical system, buried in the slab.
    So the money they spent on the 3 different HVAC contractors (with zero results) could have paid not only the engineer's fee, but also for about 10 years of extra heating bills from leaving the window open. Too bad that engineer retired and moved away, or he'd be on my job already.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Central Kentucky
    Posts
    6,248
    You don't need a engineer,what you need is a contractor who actually test system performance.
    I'm not talking about the equipment only either.
    They will be able to uncover the problems & recommend a solution to it.

    Check out http://www.nationalcomfortinstitute.com for HVAC contractors who have recieved this type of training.
    Have you set up a Google alert for Carbon Monoxide yet?
    Click here to find out how.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    PA
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    68,764
    Originally posted by dx
    Finally they hired an engineer.

    His advice: it will never work properly, so crank up the thermostat and leave the bedroom window open in the winter. Or tear down the house.

    So the money they spent on the 3 different HVAC contractors (with zero results) could have paid not only the engineer's fee, but also for about 10 years of extra heating bills from leaving the window open. Too bad that engineer retired and moved away, or he'd be on my job already.
    LOL...

    Sounds like they got the same result from both the contractors, and the engineer.
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