Top Ten HVAC Problems
The Green on Gift house has presented no shortage of challenges. I’ve already discussed some of the moisture problems and wall framing issues. In honor of David Lettermen’s recent retirement, here are the top 10 problems with the home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The problems range from no exhaust fan in the bathroom to a heat pump that wasn’t operational.
10. Undersized condensate pans
All heating and cooling systems should have a condensate pan under them to collect and remove water. My pan only covered half of the heat pump, so if there was ever a leak there is no guarantee it wouldn’t run onto the ceiling below.
9. No kitchen exhaust
The kitchen range was not exhausted to the exterior. This meant any smoke, water vapor, or odors were left to linger in the kitchen.
8. No bath exhaust fan
The one original bathroom did not have a bath exhaust fan, resulting in very evident mold on the ceiling and the door.
7. Too few return ducts
Duct systems consist of supplies, which blow air into the home, and returns that draw air out for heating or cooling. The house originally had only one return duct in the hallway. This was drastically undersized, which meant the system was starved for air and generally less effective than it should have been.
6. No “fresh air” system
Homes, especially tight homes, need outside air (sometimes called mechanical ventilation or fresh air) to help dilute indoor pollutants and to keep the air in the home feeling fresh and not stale. While homes don’t need to “breathe,” occupants do.
5. Filthy ductwork
The inside liner of the ductwork was coated in a layer of dust and grime. This came from excessive duct leakage and no filter. [Wait where wasthis ductwork? the HVAC in the ceiling?]
4. Unsecured filter covers
This was one of the major leaks in the duct system with attic air being drawn directly into the system. This leakage caused the system to work harder and allowed pollutants to be drawn into the home.
3. Inefficient duct design
The ductwork was pinched and contained lots of sharp turns. This resulted in poor airflow out of the vents into the rooms. [link to the post that explains this in more detail]
2. Catastrophic duct leakage
The duct leakage was literally off the charts – too high for my equipment to measure! The ductwork was very poorly sealed and one duct was completely disconnected. Heated or cooled air was being lost into the attic through leaky supply ducts and hot, dirty air was being sucked into the system through the leaky returns.
1. Incompatible thermostat
When I purchased the home, there was a thermostat that only works with furnace systems, but the house has an air source heat pump. This means the heat pump never actually ran properly.
At this point you may be asking yourself was there ANYTHING good with the existing HVAC system? Well, the heat pump itself was fairly new and in good condition, so after Sosebee Services replaced the ducts, condensate pan, and thermostat, I ended up with a pretty good system. And I can always change out the air handler and condenser later if I want to know that the whole system is working well.