Earlier in the summer we received one of the most common calls we get every year… our air conditioner isn’t working. Now whenever we get this call, we know the problem can be many different things, but we know one thing is common: there is an unhappy, hot, and uncomfortable homeowner out there, which we never like.
For this call, we went out to a newer townhouse in the Runnymead Farms section of Newtown Square, PA. The home was built in 1999, so the design wasn’t old at all. This is one reason we found it strange that the homeowner said they barely ever felt the AC or heating in the master bedroom and bathroom. Usually homes with newer designs account pretty well for HVAC needs, but this house didn’t seem to function so well when it came to comfort.
When we went out, we saw that the compressor had burnt out. This is a common issue if you have an undersized system that works very hard. Over time, it will eventually burn out. We decided to take some measurements of the house, account for how old the system is, and how much sun gets into the house. Weighing all of these factors together, it was pretty clear that the system they had installed was undersized.
After talking with the homeowner a little more, they confirmed that not only did their master bedroom and bathroom stay uncomfortable, but they even had to use space heaters in the winter and a window AC unit in the summer to keep the space livable. Their master bedroom of all places!
After taking everything into consideration, we recommended a new, properly sized Carrier heating and cooling system. This Carrier system is energy efficient, and designed to keep the ENTIRE home comfortable. This will improve the comfort in the house, and also save money when the energy bills start coming in.
Once we were able to figure out what equipment was best suited for this particular home, we started looking at ductwork. If the ductwork wasn’t designed properly, that could be a big reason as to why the air didn’t flow throughout the whole home, aside from the undersized system.
One of the first things we measure is the static pressure. This is a way to analyze how restrictive ductwork is and thus killing airflow.
We recorded 1.2 inches. Ideal systems run at a static pressure of 0.5 inches. Obviously, we found one of our problems here. Further, by measuring the static pressure of the return side of the system (the side that brings air back to the system) versus the supply side (the side that pushes air to the living space), we determined that the return was also undersized.
With this information, plus the bigger heating system we installed, it was necessary to add return to the house, specifically, to the 2nd floor master suite, as this faced SW.
To increase the airflow from the return, we used an already existing return duct from the master bedroom suite. This was tied into the end of return ductwork and made it a designated return.
This means that we took the pipework back to the blower to increase the return capacity and help pull heat out of that space. Additionally, we increased heater & air conditioning capacity to the proper levels, installed a spacer between the indoor heating and cooling components, and flared out the ductwork to reduce static pressure. This is all done in an effort to get that static pressure lower.
Luckily for us, a final static pressure test revealed that we lowered it to 0.7 inches – a 60% decrease – and made it easier for air to travel throughout the ductwork. We were VERY confident that this would fix the issue, so we decided to come back later and check up on the house.
After we did this post installation visit, we found that we were VERY SUCCESSFUL. The homeowners told us that the window AC unit and space heater they used to use are no longer needed to keep them comfortable. The master suite and 2nd floor were SO MUCH MORE comfortable than they were before. The temperature difference between the floors, which was incredibly problematic, was essentially eliminated!
Now that they have their new equipment and the ductwork has been fixed, this home is going to be more comfortable than it was before, and energy bills should be lowered. This is a long term investment, and should keep this home comfortable for the next 10+ years, so we were very happy to be able to fix these issues long term as well. Without the proper ductwork, even if a new system was installed it may not have done the trick. Instead they now have one of the comfiest homes in Newtown Square!