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3799 Main St. #87024
Atlanta, GA 30337
USA

773.398.5288

Advanced residential construction and home improvement consulting and owner's advocacy in Atlanta, using the latest building performance diagnostic and modeling techniques and tools. Airtightness, insulation, HVAC, ventilation, moisture, and air quality and EMF consulting for homeowners and building professionals alike.

Videos/Podcasts/Articles

Home performance articles and stories from the field with internationally respected building forensics guru Corbett Lunsford at the Building Performance Workshop. Hear new episodes of the Building Performance Podcast, see new videos from the Home Performance YouTube channel, and learn all about how diagnostic testing (more than an 'Energy Audit') can make home improvement and new home construction a proven process!

Filtering by Tag: air conditioner

Dear Corbett: Why Don't Homeowners Want It Done Right?

Corbett Lunsford

Dear Homeowners: please read and absorb what the quality contractors come up against with typical clients. This is part of why high quality construction and home improvements are hard to come by...

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Hi Corbett,
Hate to bother you, but you said if I had aquestion to get in touch with you. Sometimes I feel like just throwing my hands up in the air and giving up; why did I read that article about making the heating system airtightback in 1992 when I started my HVAC business? And why six years ago did I bother learning about the whole house approach? There are times I wish I wasn’t disciplined and motivated to do things right.

If a customer just wants a new energy efficient furnace or A/C and is not concerned with all the other issues with the house, should I just give them what they're asking for and take their money? Knowing how easy it would be to do that, I just can’t lower my standards. Even companies that are doing 'whole home performance' now, I’m following behind them fixing some of their mistakes already.

I get people telling me about the problems they are having inside the house. The question I’m always asking the homeowner is, If I see some safety concerns or other issues would you like me to tell you? On a service call, the first thing I have to get right is the problem with the equipment, than I can let them know what I see with the whole house and heating/cooling system generally.

I’m always getting pushback on this: "my heating system is just 7 years old, everything's fine." And here I am, telling them it was not installed correctly, and that we have to start all over again.  Always running into oversized furnaces and air conditioners with undersized ductwork.

Not sure if I’m explaining things correctly to the homeowner as to what I’m trying to accomplish inside the house for them. It always seems to come down to the price. Maybe I have to do a better job in showing value to the customer?

Right now, looking at one job, the call was for high end air purifying filters. The homeowner told me the house is 4000 sq ft but might include the garage and it’s 8 years old. Their 5 year old son has allergy problems, $650.00 utility bill a month, a lot dust in the house. They have 181,000 Btu output for heating and 10 tons of cooling! Told the homeowner the first thing we should do is test the house and HVAC systems first before installing the filters. It apparently costs "too much" to fix the problems. Help?
Thanks,
Sal C.


Hey Sal-
Great question, and I feel your pain!  Sometimes it can seem like our clients actually prefer to hire mediocre contractors to do cheap home improvements that make things steadily worse in the house.  I promise you, though, that it's not true. Yes, I believe it's 100% about education and showing the value, and judiciously using the powerful marketing tools Fear and Sex Appeal to do so.

Keep at it. I'll keep an eye out for your success stories to come. 

Looking Forward, 

Corbett

How to Fix Summertime Heat on Your Top Floor

Corbett Lunsford

Hi Corbett-
Finally, I have two solid quotes for air sealing. I have one new concern, however. My finished attic gets really hot in summer, and the A/C dedicated to this attic rarely is able to cool the space below 82 degrees.  From what I have read, besides implementing some kind of reflective roofing material, the only way to keep an attic cool is plenty of airflow.  So, if we air seal the attic and add insulation (which I have read holds and radiates heat in summer ?), is this air sealing initiative going to make my attic unlivable in the summer?
Thanks!
R.L.


Hey there R-
First thing to do is stop thinking about your top floor as an attic of any type.  Yes, it used to be an attic, but now it's supposed to be inside the enclosure, so let's call it what it is- your valuable living space.
Not only will airsealing NOT going to make your top floor (finished attic) hotter in summer, it is in fact the ONLY THING that will make it cooler up there.  What's happening is called reverse stack effect: your air conditioners are creating cooler, drier, DENSER air, which sinks to the bottom of the house. All the air conditioning wants to be in the bottom of the house at the same time, so it creates a higher pressure down there, and there's a low pressure at the top of the house.
The cool, heavy air escapes through gaps and cracks in the bottom of the house, and the house now needs air, so it breathes in at the most depressurized (and also hottest) place- at the very top.  So all the air that's in your top floor rooms is coming from the attic spaces and the roof cavity.
Lastly, it's a total myth that attic ventilation will keep an attic cool- #1, attic ventilation is actually for venting MOISTURE, not heat; and #2, you don't actually care how hot it gets in your attic, since it's not part of your house.  The roofing manufacturers used to void their warranties if the attic got too hot, but they don't do that anymore.  You're free!
For a more detailed look at attic airsealing, watch this:

This is NOT a Roof Leak: What Condensation Can Do

Corbett Lunsford

Visit an attic (vicariously) with building performance expert Corbett Lunsford to find a tiny problem that may force us to replace the floor and ceiling of this building- and it might happen to you someday too! Stop guessing- Proof Is Possible. Get up in that attic and have a look!