“We look at the home or business as a system,” he adds. “As High-Performance HVAC contractors, we consider the building part of the duct system. Our techs test CO and static pressure on every call, and if warranted, they’ll sell a deeper investigation to find root causes of problems they discover before offering IAQ solutions.”
At Canco, Will says they don’t usually charge for initial testing and can often find the cause of the customer’s problems and offer a solution. Other times, they need to do more work.
At GV’s Heating, Dawn Mroczek says they focus on ensuring the HVAC system operates optimally. She says they investigate high and low static pressure situations, blower speeds, temperatures, and humidity issues.
“All of these things can relate to IAQ problems within a home. If we are not measuring, collecting, and evaluating the data, how can we come up with a solution? How can all system components operate efficiently if the airflow is incorrect?”
“At SoCal Airflow Pros,” says Cody Novini, “the name says it all. Airflow is the core of our business. Our biggest push is toward proper airflow and static pressure in any system we encounter. We are not product-focused, though certain products can help us prescribe solutions for customer IAQ and other problems.
“Typically, we don’t tell the client they must replace all their equipment and add this high-filtration system. That is just so overwhelming to them. So, we look at their airflow first,” Novini explains. “We ask about uncomfortable rooms, then conduct an airflow evaluation through testing and diagnostics.”
Product Solutions and Root Causes
John Boylan says that at his company, Lakeside Service, they also do system performance testing and diagnostics focused on airflow and will address IAQ issues they encounter. He says humidity is a big issue in the Michigan marketplace.
“By looking at building performance, we look for duct leakage, air infiltration, and approach solutions from a testing and diagnostic standpoint,” Boylan says. “Regarding IAQ, Lakeside provides customers with product solutions based on those test results and diagnostics.
“Let’s face it,” he adds. “You can sell a dehumidification system, but if you don’t stop the source of high humidity, you’ll wind up with a mediocre result. It’s like taking an aspirin because you have headaches, but the cause is that you’re not drinking enough water. The aspirin will reduce the headache, but it will keep coming back.”
However, today, John is thinking about reassessing their IAQ approach. “It’s recently become apparent that our customers don’t know about all our services.”
He says he feels they can do a better job finding root IAQ causes, which requires recommitting to training and working IAQ into their service and new installation routines.
Systematic Approach to IAQ
All the contractors we spoke with say they systematically approach their work in customer homes and buildings. They all do static pressure testing and check the system fans, filters, ductwork, and mechanical equipment.
Mitch Bailey adds that his company also looks at the building envelope by inspecting attics and crawlspaces and conducting room pressure testing. Cody Novini says they also check registers and look for tell-tale signs that something is amiss – dust build-up on furniture, using too many portable fans, etc.
To do this work, these contractors all use specific tools and instruments. For example, At GV’s Heating, Dawn Mroczek says they use particle scanners to see the air quality in customer homes.
They also use infrared cameras, Fieldpiece psychrometers, sensors, and combustion analyzers to help them find IAQ root causes. They also measure humidity levels. She says they are currently looking into purchasing an air monitoring system.
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