Humidification and dehumidification solutions should sell themselves. In fact, Dave Borowski, director of technical training at Direct Energy’s Success Academy in Naples, Florida, encouraged contractors to stop trying to sell humidifiers and dehumidifiers altogether.
“By taking a sales approach, you’re only looking out for yourself,” he said. “Trying to jam a square peg into every round hole is a strategy that will haunt you.”
SOLUTIONS BEFORE SALES
Contractors admittedly face a difficult task when it comes to showcasing the benefits and inherent value present in structural moisture management while also ensuring customers know such solutions are more than just empty sales pitches.
“We train our contractors to approach these solutions with the proper mindset. The goal should always be to improve the customer’s environment,” said Borowski. “This is accomplished by surveying, evaluating, and testing the environment. Only then can they educate the customer and offer the proper corrective actions.”
However, once contractors are certain humidification or dehumidification is an appropriate solution to their customers’ issues, they take varying approaches in presenting them.
“We mention [to customers] how maintaining a proper humidity level promotes a healthy environment,” said Michael Kirin, owner of Total Heating, Cooling & Electrical in Leonard, Michigan. “We educate them on how low humidity impacts their sinuses and throat and also how high humidity promotes mold and dust mites.”
Mike Tucker, owner of Tucker’s Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing in Gaithersburg, Maryland, said he cuts straight to the chase.
“Typically, we ask them straight up if they are having issues with the air in their homes,” he said. “We ask if they have health issues and talk about conditions in the home. Then we propose filtration or humidity.”
Borowski insists contractors must present themselves as the experts. “HVAC contractors need to understand the impact relative humidity plays in terms of the heat index, which is a calculation that takes into account the body’s ability for sweat to evaporate. The heat index calculation is an advantage for cooling and heating a home.”
The heat index Borowski refers to is the temperature felt by the skin rather than the actual temperature due to the humidity level. The humidity level of the environment affects the evaporation rate, which will, in turn, affect the rate of heat removal and the temperate the skin feels.
QUESTION AND ANSWER
With humidification being more commonly needed in the North and dehumidification in the South, customers can have wildly varying levels of familiarity and knowledge in regards to humidification maintenance and installation.
“Occasionally, the customer will bring up these topics, but, for the most part, we mention them ﬁrst,” said Kirin. “Most people understand the logic behind maintaining a proper humidity level but don’t check it on a regular basis. We explain that minerals in the water harden and cause ﬂow issues. As a result, we suggest we do the maintenance, so that it doesn’t get out of hand. Of course, most people understand these systems need to be maintained. But, unfortunately, much like their automobiles, as long as they’re perceived to be working well, then they think it can wait until some kind of failure.”
Those with asthma or allergies tend to be more vocal on the topic, said Tucker. “People who already have problems tend to bring up these topics with us. If they aren’t asking us, then we always ask them. Lots of people have wood floors, so we bring that into the discussion, in case they notice them separating.”
Low humidity can cause wood floors to lose moisture, which leads to contraction and separation at the seams. However, beyond that issue, Tucker said ensuring customers remain on top of product maintenance is a paramount concern.
“If you aren’t going to maintain it, then you shouldn’t get it,” said Tucker. “It’s a lot like installing UV lights in that you need to stay on top of those systems. We sell evaporative humidifiers and steam humidifiers, and both require annual maintenance. We make sure customers understand how important this maintenance is up front.”
WHOLE-HOUSE OR PORTABLE UNITS
When excess or a lack of moisture is identified as a problem, customers may also have to decide between buying a whole-home or portable humidification or dehumidification solution.
Portable solutions require the customer to frequently refill or empty a water pan and can only treat a small portion of the home while whole-home solutions are often more expensive, but do not require as
“We present both whole-house and portable options, though typically try to steer customers toward the whole-house option so that it levels out throughout the home rather than satisfying moisture on a room-to-room basis,” said Kirin.
While the decision is one to be made by the customer, Tucker, much like Kirin, typically encourages a whole-home solution. “They’re typically easier on the customer because they don’t have to keep adding water or constantly change out the system’s tank.”
Jay Ayers, geothermal and IAQ product manager at Ingersoll Rand, said whole-house humidifiers offer significant advantages over portable solutions, including addressing the entire home with one unit and less maintenance.
“Portable solutions are rated to cover very small areas,” said Ayers. “In a 2,500-square-foot home, five or six portable units may be needed to accomplish the same thing one whole-home unit will do. While one portable unit may require less energy than a whole-house system, that’s not the case when you’re operating five or six units at one time. Plus, maintenance is higher because you have to replace the water all the time.”
Borowski said contractors must present the facts and then offer options based on those findings. “You can put a humidifier in the kitchen and keep emptying the pan every day, and it will have very little to no impact on any other rooms,” said Borowski. “With a whole-home solution, I can improve IAQ in every room of the home.”
Publication date: 1/18/2016