Quality Home HVAC Comfort: Questions Lead to Efficiency

This post was originally published on this site
After much analysis, Tom Casey and team combined three inefficient systems into one, for superior comfort in this Florida home.

This month, we feature this fine residential project by Tom Casey and his team at Griffin Service, St. Johns, Fla., to illustrate the value in referrals from satisfied customers, and to show the value of a complete home comfort analysis. Send us your project, to be included in an upcoming issue of CB. Congratulations to Tom Casey and team! — Terry McIver, director of content

Existing Systems Were the Problem
The house was originally conditioned by four separate heat pump systems, scattered throughout the house. The existing systems were older, starting to experience frequent breakdowns, and some had been haphazardly upgraded through the years. The clients technically had “cooling”, but it was inadequate for their overall comfort goals, particularly with their entertaining lifestyle. 

I met with both homeowners, and asked tons of questions to learn all about their goals, what they liked and didn’t like about their existing system, their healthy lifestyle concerns, energy costs, and how they used the various areas of their home.

They were referred from an existing client that had experienced similar challenges, that we were able to rectify. In fact, Scott and Sara Phillips referred us; their home was a previous QHCA winner. 

Questions Lead to Solutions
I met with both homeowners, and asked tons of questions to learn all about their goals, what they liked and didn’t like about their existing system, their healthy lifestyle concerns, energy costs, and how they used the various areas of their home. After gathering all the specific intelligence from them, I went about performing our Pinpoint Assessment, where we access all the areas of the home to inspect and measure everything. We assessed their loads versus their existing systems. We made calculations of the existing ductwork compared to the right-sized loads and systems. We also evaluated the sub-systems, including electrical, plumbing, building assembly, etc., to be able to provide a comprehensive solution.

Three of the four existing systems were in different attic areas, serving smaller individual spaces. Access was difficult, and required disruption of the living spaces that were adjacent to unit locations. The actual mechanical spaces were very confined, to the point that it was virtually impossible to properly install anything without compromising efficiency, capacity, and durability. To make matters more complicated, the interior of the home was decorated and furnished with amazing finishes, each room uniquely appointed to make a real statement. 

Even if comfort wasn’t a core issue, which it absolutely was, the thought of doing a major upgrade in and around the amazing interior of the home seemed crazy. Further, even if we did make it happen on the initial replacement project, why install systems that would continue to jeopardize or inconvenience the homeowner’s lifestyle for maintenance and service.

After much climbing, crawling, and exploring attic-to-attic, we determined ways to consolidate 3-into-1 and subsequently be able to solve all problems and accomplish all goals.

The master and guest bedroom suites were uncomfortable, and often during hot weather doors had to be propped open to help mitigate the problems. Existing ductwork was improperly sized, and cross-connected between temperature zones, making control impossible. Plus, the air handler was above a large walk-in closet, that required shelves and racks be emptied to access it. And, the heat pump was on an exterior wall, and was noisy in the least desirable place possible.

The main living, dining, and kitchen areas couldn’t achieve or maintain setpoint on design days. One air handler was above the garage, and the other was in an impossible location over the kitchen ceiling. Both duct systems were grossly inadequate for the needs of the spaces. The heat pumps were in a confined area that had insufficient space for proper airflow as well.

After much climbing, crawling, and exploring attic-to-attic, we determined ways to consolidate 3-into-1 and subsequently be able to solve all problems and accomplish all goals.

We disconnected and removed the three duct systems, air handlers and heat pumps. We installed one, properly-sized ductwork from the attic area above the garage to the three areas of the home. We installed one variable-speed air handler with three modulating zones, matched with an inverter heat pump that could modulate from 30-100 percent, based on actual demand, while the zones could also modulate and communicate to deliver precise CFM for any demands zone-by-zone. We added proper return air inlets from each zone to ensure pressure balance inside the home. New ductwork, line sets, drains, power and control wiring were all integral to our successful project. 

It took a real leap of faith by them to trust us taking out three systems and replacing it with just one. Their faith and trust paid off, because they now enjoy perfect comfort, quiet operations, amazing humidity control, low energy bills, and service that doesn’t disrupt their home or lifestyle.

All of this was accomplished while this amazingly finished home was occupied, so we had to strategically disconnect and reconnect in a manner that the homeowners were never without AC. Extreme care had to be taken working inside and above finished spaces to ensure minimum disruption. Not to mention, not stress out their pack of Dachshunds that were diligently following every move we made.

Full Commissioning Ensures Balance
Upon completion of the entire installation, we recommissioned everything from scratch to ensure the full operations were performing per our design. All controls were programmed to the homeowner’s requests, airflow verified by zone and total, refrigerant charge balanced by subcooling, and all temperature splits measured. Once commissioned, we instructed the homeowners on use and care of their investment.

We are happy to report that the new system performs better than the homeowners ever thought possible. It took a real leap of faith by them to trust us taking out three systems and replacing it with just one. Their faith and trust paid off, because they now enjoy perfect comfort, quiet operations, amazing humidity control, low energy bills, and service that doesn’t disrupt their home or lifestyle.

One award-winning referral leads to another award-winning project, that has also resulted in even more referrals. Quality doesn’t cost; it pays!