Help! My house is cold, so I need my HVAC system fixed. Who do I call?
I get questions on a regular basis about home comfort and efficiency. This question came from someone who read my blog and wanted to get their HVAC system adjusted and wanted to know who to call.
“Our house is quite cold this winter and our energy costs are pretty high – I suspect our heating system is not very efficient, and I am looking to hire someone to come identify and fix any problems. Who should I call?”
The easy answer for your HVAC system is to call Jay Monger at Excel HVAC. He will get your system right.
The path that I would suggest instead:
Get an energy audit from Building Knowledge so that you can develop a comprehensive approach to make your home efficient. His findings will probably be along the following:
You HVAC system is most likely oversized, insulation inefficient in the attic and basement / crawl space, hot water pipes not insulated, and there is a strong need to air seal your home. Since HVAC systems are expensive, I would first air seal your home, then insulate, then adjust the HVAC system.
To air seal a typical home, you could caulk and weather seal all the gaps and cracks in the thermal envelope (electrical outlets, around recessed lights, attic access, doors and windows, and around HVAC boots). The big holes will most likely be the band board (where the floor joists hit the outside walls). These are best sealed with spray foam insulation (open cell not closed cell).
Then, most likely your attic does not have enough insulation and probably not air tight insulation. This is a hard decision to make – to fix the air tight issue you usually need to remove the insulation that is already there. Most people, including myself, don’t like throwing away something you already paid for. So typically, you just accept the air leakage in the attic insulation and add another layer of insulation on top of what you have there. Code minimum is R-38, but I would suggest a minimum of R-50, but like to see R-72 if budget and space allow.
A basement / crawl space is another good place to attack if the space is not finished. We often find insulation in the floor system above. It should be on the walls for better performance. The band board is often not insulated at all, this area should be sprayed foam.
Once you get the house as air tight as possible and have insulation added in appropriate places, then the HVAC system can be adjusted as needed – perhaps just adding a fresh air exchange depending on how tight you get the home. It might also need some dampers added to get the right amount of air into the right rooms.
For insulation – if you want to skip the energy audit – call Ken Wells at Elite Insulation. For a couple thousand dollars, he can get your home WAY more comfortable even before the energy audit. He understands building science and is fair with his pricing.
If you have questions about your home, let us know!