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Home & Body

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Someone recently told me about their air conditioning system. They said “My registers are whistling.”

So my inner investigative doctor came out. I asked them if they’d changed anything or had their system service recently. I always like to start a diagnosis with a good history. “Service – what a joke” they laughed. “Our system hasn’t been serviced since it was installed seven years ago – doing fine”.

“Oh Boy.” I thought

I pried further. “Were any other changes made or is anything different?” “Nope” they quipped. “Just a new thermostat that we can talk to and control with our phone.” They went on “We had our neighbor check out the issue – he is a mechanic… so he’s good with that kind of thing”.

Aha! The culprit has come forward. They explained they were having allergy issues and upgraded to a “super duper” high efficiency filter. They went on to explain it was about the same size as the old filter. Demonstrating with their fingers that it was about an inch wide. With pride they told me about how much “bad stuff” it would be collecting or “catching” in the filter. “healthier living” They said.

“Healthier living?!” I thought

Please allow me to outline the purpose of my article, and future articles before I explain why their HVAC system was “whistling.”

There’s a lot of analogies between the house and the human body. The analogies are fairly extensive, here are a few:

  • the foundation of your house and podiatry,
  • the structure and framing of the shell and the skeletal system,
  • gastrointestinal system and plumbing,
  • electrical to nervous system
  • the skin to exterior siding.

Lets take this analogy a step further and apply it to injuries that can cause infection in the body and their counterpart in the house- like damage to the exterior siding or leaky ducks that allow is that nasty stuff in. That same “bad stuff” we want to filter our of our duct systems and lungs. Anyone’s house catch healthy home syndrome this winter?

HVAC issues are probably the most significant topics when you look at the house and body analogy from the perspective of injuries. A wise man once said that high static pressure in the house is like high blood pressure in the body. If the ventilation and filtration systems are the lungs of the house then wheezing ducts are like wheezing lungs.

That’s not good.

That’s why I tested their “weezing” system and found that it was 0.2 IWC higher than what the manufacturer recommended. “A fraction high” they responded. But I said the same about my blood pressure and now I take a XYZ pill daily.

When I showed them the data sheet proving they were losing about 300cfm or 25% of their systems capacity they still need more clarifications. I had to actually illustrate the difference between a filter that is 4 inches thick and lots of surface area and one that is just as dense, but only one inch thick. The only analogy I could find was better lung capacity.

Did I mention they put one in both returns and at the unit? No? YES!

I explained to them that there’s no pill to correct the loss of HVAC performance. Ironically, I wish it is was as easy for me to reduce my blood pressure as it was to correct their static pressure. There are multiple causes for high external static pressure- like high blood pressure. This was not the first home I’ve diagnosed with a similar issues and it wasn’t much of a mystery.

To my knowledge, the most common ailments are mismatched coils, poorly designed systems, registers and or doors closed off, and sealing ducts work… that cause high static pressure ailments than duct leakage. They needed a pressuring reducing pill. Oh yes, I will address the great debate on weather to seal the ducts or not – the answer may surprise you.

Let me explain, the one “organ” that’s the same in the home and body is the brain. It’s our brain that operates our bodies and it our brain that operates our homes. Our brains have an amazing capacity for rationalization. It can justify illogical actions or lack or actions – all for a “good reason”. My client’s brain told them servicing their system was “a joke”. But basic maintenance is the one way to make sure your system has optimum performance (just like our bodies).

So I applied the house body analogy. I told him next time I’m sick I’ll have his mechanic diagnose me.

Oh did I mention my client is my doctor too? Sorry, maybe I should have mentioned that this conversation occurred because I had a cough (wheezing) I could not solve with out him.

After that we traded Home & Body analogies but could not find a comparison for the refrigerator! Do you know of any?

Joe Medosch
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Posted In: Building Performance, Residential Buildings

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