Mold Banned, DeLuise's Moisture Controlled

January 29, 2007
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Double thumbs up from Dom DeLuise for Dorris. His company, Johnston Gas Furnace, does all the HVAC work for the DeLuise home.

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. - “I can’t believe it’s all over,” exclaimed Dom DeLuise when HVAC contractor Curt Dorris gave his final installation report. “You mean that’s it?” After months of having part of the house closed up, wall and ceiling materials torn out and replaced, furniture removed, holes cut into the ceiling, and general upheaval, it seemed hard for the legendary comedian to believe it was done.

“It’s all over,” confirmed Dorris, president of Johnston Gas Furnace Co., a Carrier dealer from Burbank. “We’re done with the installation.” He and his crew, Rick Palmtary and Brian Kroll, had spent the better part of a day installing an Aprilaire whole-home dehumidifier and electronic air cleaner in the 4,000-square-foot ranch-style home.

“What about the room dehumidifiers? You mean we can turn them off now?” asked Dom’s wife, Carol Arthur DeLuise. The couple had lived with the disruption related to the mold problem so long, it had seemed like the song that never ends.

A RECAP

Let’s take a look back at how this celebrity HVAC job got started. During a home improvement project last summer, a decorator discovered water damage to a sofa and dining room table in the DeLuise home. A consultant identified a few types of mold and high indoor levels of humidity in rooms facing one side of the house. The culprits were poor drainage and a misdirected lawn sprinkler system (The NEWS, Nov. 27, 2006).

Dom and Carol DeLuise did what any conscientious homeowners would do. They contacted a remediator to make sure their unwanted houseguests, mold and fungus, were given the old heave-ho. Then they wanted to make sure these guests couldn’t return (although some of their relatives, like the Parmesans and the Portobellos, are still welcome).

When we visited the residence near Los Angeles in late September, the DeLuises were learning about potential solutions for keeping the humidity at a desirable level in the home and improving the home’s IAQ in general.

The NEWS was there with Dom, his pet parrot Charlie, and “On the House” radio hosts Jim and Morris Carey, while Aprilaire’s Nikki Krueger and Mimoun Abaraw worked out a solution.

The solution proposed by Abaraw included the installation of a Model 1720 whole-home dehumidification system and a return-air installation cut into the flex duct, plus a Model 5000 electronic air cleaner (EAC). Ductwork for the home runs under the flooring and up into the walls. The air handler and Carrier Weathermaker Infinity furnace are in a large, main-floor closet. The home’s water heater is in the attic, which is typical for homes in the area.

Installer Rick Palmtary secures a flex duct connection to the plenum.

THE BIG DAY

Johnston Gas Furnace installed the furnace in 2002. The company installed the IAQ equipment in mid-November 2006. The contractor also will be responsible for maintaining the EAC and cleaning the dehumidifier’s filter once a year.

The 80 percent residential, 20 percent light commercial company offers planned service agreements, free in-home estimates, and flat-rate billing for air conditioning, furnace, heat pump, and zoned systems. The company has worked on a few other celebrities’ homes in the area. The DeLuises are good customers, Dorris said.

Dorris and the electrical contractor, John LaMadeleine, met two days before the installation to make sure the home’s wiring would be sufficient for the equipment. The HVAC contractor had planned out the installation space based on his knowledge of the available attic area and the equipment’s dimensions, but he didn’t want to take anything for granted until the equipment was delivered. “You never can tell if it will fit until you actually get it,” Dorris said. “Sometimes products are changed from what you see on the spec sheet.”

In addition to Dorris and his crew, local Aprilaire technical rep Frank Pflugradt was on hand in case any questions arose during the installation of the two products.

The EAC was installed on the air handler in the main-floor closet, per the original plan. The dehumidifier (actually a commercial unit) was installed in a storage portion of the attic, so that it could be drained with the water heater. Both units drain outside, but not under the house; that could pose another potential moisture/mold risk. The appliances drain down from the attic to an area of the backyard where a lemon tree is growing. This met with the DeLuises’ complete approval.

The need for continuing maintenance led the contractor to make sure that the unit’s space and positioning would be suitable for the work. A PVC trap with a capped 6-inch tee was added so that the unit can be cleaned regularly.

In addition, “In order to get the optimum performance out of the whole-home dehumidifier Model 1720, Aprilaire recommended that Dom keep his windows shut to increase his comfort levels and save on energy costs,” said Abaraw.

The company also recommended that DeLuise and the contractor take advantage of the unit’s built-in ventilation feature, “which will allow them to introduce a controlled amount of outside air on a timely basis,” Abaraw said.

Curt Dorris (left), owner of Johnston Gas Furnace, and installer Brian Kroll get ready to install the Aprilaire dehumidifier in the DeLuise home.

COMFORT

Even before the end of the day, visitors to the DeLuise home experienced something they may not have felt in many, many months. Their mouths were dry. This was before the room dehumidifiers were shut off and removed.

During the September visit, the guests from The NEWS and Aprilaire found that the humidity indoors was noticeably much higher than it was outdoors, and this was with the room dehumidifiers running. It was uncomfortably humid compared to the outdoors at the time - but not anymore.

“This is all wonderful,” DeLuise said of his home’s current comfort levels. “It’s really effortless because we don’t have to do anything to it.” Has there been any noticeable noise increase from the additional equipment? “There’s not a drop,” he said.

Comfort is a tricky topic; when a person is uncomfortable he knows it, but when he is comfortable he might take it for granted. DeLuise said he has noticed a positive difference, especially at night. “It seems easier to sleep,” he said.

With the entire project over, DeLuise agreed that it’s like finally being awake after a bad dream. “We can move on from it now.”

Publication date: 01/29/2007

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