Solving The Problem Together

[Editor’s note:This letter is in reference to John R. Hall’s June 17 column, “This Guy Doesn’t Like Forced-Air Systems; What Say You?”]

It’s a shame our industry cannot stand up and show how we can solve these problems. For each of Jeff May’s issues, the industry has a resolution. Unfortunately, this industry is fragmented, [therefore] it cannot do anything about articles like this. And the biggest travesty is we’re not doing anything to address it in the new homes being put up. Our contractors still do slam-bam work in new construction at the lowest price and do not take time to protect the duct system or to properly seal it because the builder won’t pay for it.

It’s a shame this industry cannot do anything to change the situation and it just might take the good, old federal government to come in and regulate how a system should be installed. Heaven help us then.

Our industry needs to come up with installation guidelines. NHRAW already produces a book on this, but nobody uses it. Even ACCA has a lot of resources, but so few contractors and installers even use them.

And the equipment manufacturers need to do a better job on sealing their equipment.

If we could only come together as an industry and work on this, we could easily solve this, and it wouldn’t add much cost to a system, I’d bet. While we’re all at fault — manufacturers, contractors, and builders — somebody has to take the lead. A lot of this does fall on the installer who has the ultimate responsibility of making sure the system works. ACCA’s summit on bioterrorism and indoor air quality was a good start on that subject; how about a summit on this subject on what we do best and how to make it better.

Richard Foster Jr., Trolex Corp., Elmwood Park, NJ

Problems Are Hidden In The Cellar

In regards to John R. Hall’s June 17 column [“This Guy Doesn’t Like Forced-Air Systems; What Say You?”]; regardingMy House is Killing Me!by Jeff May, I say, “Don’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes.” Have you ever been in a basement that smells like a basement? Air handlers in Boston with A/C are located in damp, musty basements.

As Jeff May states, he finds mold growing in the air ducts and basements. This is a common problem throughout the U.S. with basements or crawlspaces with air handlers. The main problem is excess humidity for extended periods of time.

Using the finest air filters combined with modern high efficiency equipment with tight ducts and perfectly sized equipment using Manual J, what is the temperature and relative humidity in the home, basement, and in the ducts during a week of cool, damp weather? The relative humidity will be high enough to grow mold on the cooler surfaces of home and equipment. If the A/C operates occasionally, the relative humidity near the wet cooling coil will be very high.

It’s common to find mold growth in the plenum near the cooling coil. All humid climates occasionally have this high moisture, low cooling condition. People like Jeff May have little choice but to recommend eliminating mold-loaded air-handling systems located in mold-loaded basements or crawlspaces. In addition, he recommends maintaining 50% RH by dehumidifying the cool, damp parts of the home.

Our heating-cooling industry should solve this problem by installing a 100- to 150-pint/day ventilating dehumidifier. The unit mixes fresh air with the house air, and filters, dehumidifies, and discharges the mixed air into the basement/crawlspace and the supply duct of the air handler. This keeps the home and ducts at 50% RH throughout the wet time of the year with little or no A/C operation.

This is an opportunity for the heating-A/C contractor to provide real indoor air quality throughout the home.

Ken Gehring, President, Therma-Stor Products, Madison, WI

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Publication date: 08/26/2002