The Answer Guide
Why is My Home Uncomfortable?
Why are some rooms different temperatures than others?
What can be done about it?
Many homeowners think that the key to comfort is to get a bigger, more powerful system. Wrong! More often than not, heating and air conditioning systems are oversized to begin with. When an air conditioner is too large, it can actually make comfort worse.
Comfort in the home can be affected by many things. The most common culprit is the air distribution or duct system, but comfort is also affected by air cleanliness, humidity, insulation, and even the room registers.
A Few Facts
- According to the American Comfort Survey™ only 40% of homes are comfortable in all rooms at the same time.
- Fans for residential heating and air conditioning systems are rated for 0.50” of external static pressure (resistance). Some filters eat up 0.35” or more, resulting in a series of comfort and air quality problems.
- A southwestern utility study of new homes found that nearly all had improper refrigerant levels with the worst having only 62% of the correct amount.
- A southwestern utility found that the average home has duct leakage of 25%. A northeastern utility found 51% of homes studied needed duct repairs, resulting in a 20% to 23% leakage reduction. A southeastern utility documented that duct repair saves homeowners an average of 17% on utilities. A western states utility found savings of 17% for cooling and 12% for heating.
How can I fix my comfort problems?
The first step is to correctly identify what’s wrong. The frequency of obvious problems occurring can be amazing. When a western utility hired an engineering firm to investigate customer complaints of high energy bills among certain heat pump owners, they found that one home in three had disconnected ducts! Another common problem is improper refrigerant charge and refrigerant leaks. It’s not unusual to find filters with too much pressure drop, return air systems that are too small, the wrong fan setting, thermostats out of calibration, and insulation problems. Sometimes the problems are obvious to an alert technician and simple to correct, yet sometimes a more extensive diagnostic procedure is required, as in cases where the entire air distribution system is out of balance. In all cases, the first step to a solution is an investigation and diagnosis.
Will a new system fix my problems?
A new comfort system is not always a silver bullet. If it is sized wrong, installed incorrectly or if the duct system is ignored, the problems may even get worse. However, consumer research studies have shown that owners of new systems are far more likely to be satisfied with their comfort system. Consumers who paid a little more to invest in a better system, from a better contractor were much more likely than to report higher satisfaction levels. A thorough upgrade of your heating and air conditioning system by a good, quality contractor should solve the problems. One by the low bidder may not.
Once solved, how do I keep them solved?
Modern heating and air conditioning systems are very reliable, considering their duty cycle. They will run for years without maintenance, but not without a price. To maintain comfort levels and operating efficiencies, the system must be serviced annually. The energy savings alone will pay for the cost of the service. With heating and air conditioning systems, maintenance is truly free.
© 2004 Service Roundtable