Caring for your home’s air: What to tell a tech
(BPT) - Regular maintenance of a home’s heating and cooling system by a qualified HVAC technician can help support a homeowner’s investment in high-efficiency equipment. But while technicians are the equipment technology experts, homeowners can provide a valuable “insider’s perspective” when it comes to the air throughout their home.
Homeowners have a unique advantage in that they live in their home every day and are attuned to subtle changes in their home’s air. Whereas a technician servicing a home’s heating and cooling system may be in the house a few hours a year, a home’s occupants will typically notice slight variations in the air circulating throughout their home.
Feedback from homeowners can provide useful clues to identify the “root cause” of a problem. For example, a problem with a home’s thermal comfort or air quality may not be the result of faulty equipment but originate from other issues in the home such as compromised ductwork, inadequate levels of insulation or poor ventilation. Problems such as these can lead to rooms that are too hot or cold, have a strange odor or present air quality issues. These issues may contribute to increased energy consumption and higher heating and cooling bills.
Energy Star notes that an average home loses up to 30% of the air that moves through the duct system due to leaks, holes and poorly connected ducts. Replacing and resealing old ductwork can help homeowners optimize air quality, comfort and energy costs. Holes and leaks in attic ducts can allow particulates from the attic to infiltrate conditioned air blowing through the system, which may lead to more dust inside the home.
From a thermal comfort perspective, more than 90% of homes are under-insulated, falling short of current DOE guidelines for energy efficiency. A quick look around a home’s attic can assess insulation levels and suggest measures such as adding loose fill insulation to improve comfort and energy efficiency.
Scott Savidge is a Technical Field Supervisor at Isaac Heating and Air Conditioning and a member of the NATE (North American Technician Excellence) technical committee. He says it’s helpful for a homeowner to share when a problem started, describe any changes with regards to how an HVAC system cycles on and off, and mention any unusual odors when the technician visits. “At a minimum, knowing when the equipment was last serviced can be helpful,” he says.
Other insights about the home’s air that can be helpful to share during a service visit include:
- Is there more dust in the air than usual?
- Is the home’s heating and cooling equipment making any unusual noises?
- When were the air filters last changed?
- Does the air in some rooms/areas feel stuffy?
- Is there a room that is persistently colder/warmer than other parts of the house?
- Are heating and cooling bills unexpectedly higher?
Ultimately, an Owens Corning® AirCare™ contractor cares not only for a home’s equipment, but for the air that flows through the system. A home’s air is supported by a complex system of infrastructure, mechanical equipment and technology. By offering insights into the home’s overall comfort and air quality, occupants can support technicians in caring for the air in their home.