He explains that there are a lot of basement and attic systems in the Gaithersburg area. Basement systems pose challenges for duct renovations because it is difficult to access or install balancing dampers without tearing into walls and ceilings.
On the other hand, Attic systems are easier because he says his team can change balancing dampers or install them if needed.
“Every house is different, and we always need to do what’s best for the customer,” Wheat says. “In our area, adding and fixing returns that are too small and addressing filter issues are key. Then we look at sealing ducts.”
The company invested in an Aeroseal® (aeroseal.com) machine after 2018 to expedite duct sealing. According to Jeff Wheat, they sub out insulation work to a partner company that also does home energy audits.
“In the end, we find that we close on more duct renovation and air upgrade sales today, though that depends on me,” he says. “If I slack off on talking about duct renovations and air upgrades with my guys, then things go into a lull. But if I’m up on it and constantly remind them about it, then we get more jobs doing this work.”
A Continuous Process
Wheat says the culture at the company is strongly focused on high-performance HVAC contracting. However, in his words, “it’s not like we are there yet. It is a changing and evolving process that always requires someone to lead it.
“For me, what makes things we’re doing successful is when our field team understands it and believes in it. It’s always a matter of training them and keeping them up to date on everything. I spend a lot of time teaching technicians about what we’re doing, why we do it, and how to do it. Sometimes they just don’t get it. Then I send them to NCI training, and finally, the light bulb goes off for them.”
He adds that the other challenging part is getting the customer on board.
“We can prove what is happening with a customer’s system using the high-performance approach. Customers will only do what they want to do. As a technician and a contractor, you must understand this fact. Our objective is to provide them with options.
Give them choices based on their needs, wants, and budgets.
“This is our laser focus. We provide customers with the best comfort service options through testing, measuring, and diagnosis.
“It’s not our job to tell customers what to do. It’s our job to give them the options and let them choose,” Wheat concludes.
It is for these and so many more reasons that High-Performance HVAC Today magazine chose to focus our spotlight on James A. Wheat and Sons. Congratulations to the entire team.