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We Thought Home Performance Was The Way To Go

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Up until the late 1990’s we believed we were one of the best companies installing replacement systems in the residential market. We did a heat load, installed a great looking system, knew how to charge the system precisely and cleaned up well after completion. We thought we were replacing systems.

Then we were introduced to system performance in the mid 90’s. I knew as soon as I saw this that this was the way we had to go. System performance includes the ductwork as part of the system. We learned how important it was to know the performance of the ductwork along with the unit. As part of this learning curve we learned about the static pressure and temperature readings required were needed on every call even if we had just been there.

We learned that static pressure is similar to blood pressure readings (and every time you go to doctor they check it no matter if you went every day for a week) and the temperature readings are as important as checking your temperature reading at the doctor. After you take these reading you learn how to determine if further testing is required and in our area most of the time this is the case.

After we started doing further testing we learned that on average here in South West Oklahoma the average leakage of ductwork was over 50% and most of this was on return air ducts which really make for a big disaster. Bringing in attic air (140-150 degrees) and garage air can create temperature and moisture problems along with performance.

We also learned that it was very important to test before the job was done (this became a part of the sales process) and then test after completion to make sure the repairs done were done correctly and to make sure system performance was achieved. We became very good at finding the problems with the duct work and repairing the problems so that we were getting the most out of not only the new unit but the ductwork also.

Doing this gave us a great advantage on the sales process in that we were truly the best contractor in our area at replacement because we knew we were the only ones doing this process.

Now enters the local utility company, spring of 2011, wanting us to partner with them to do whole house performance while offering our customer a rebate. Their first offer was not even worth changing the way we were doing things so we told them we were not interested. They had no clue on how to make this an opportunity that we felt was worth the time that it was going to take and they would not guarantee any rebate.

The utility company came back that summer and with some ridiculous high rebate amount (over $8,000)! After I realized what they had just offered (still no guarantee amount) I had a hard time getting sleep knowing the potential of this huge rebate. We were required to do lots of training to meet their requirements of their whole house improvements but they provided a person that could do the testing immediately while we were getting certified. (FYI the large rebate ended that December).

After going through the training and then getting hands-on-experience with the whole house, I realized we were not being fair to our customers not looking at the whole house. It was a very similar feeling I had with the system performance. You realize the house has issues similar to the duct problems we were finding.

We realized that the inside of the house is part of the duct system and the doors are like dampers along with walls and ceiling not insulated properly were similar to duct work not insulated properly. Leaks in walls, floors, doors, fireplaces, etc. were similar also and greatly affected the house performance along with the system.

We are now testing over 90 percent of our homes we go into as a whole house project. You don’t have to fix all the problems you find, but you prioritize the problems you find, along with an amount to do the repairs.

Mark Pippin

Posted In: Building Performance, Residential Buildings

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