Engineered, Measured and then Verified

At Splinters Construction & Building Performance, Inc. we specialize in the expert design and installation of energy efficient central heating and air conditioning systems that will keep your home comfortable year-round.    

Every home has unique characteristics that pose differing challenges from house to house when it comes to designing and installing a new system.  It is critical to understand how easy it is for HVAC contractors to install a bad system, and it happens much more often than you would expect.  

The first step to the diagnosis of an existing HVAC system is to have us perform a ComfortMaxx evaluation on your home system.  A ComfortMaxx evaluation is a computer program developed by the National Comfort Institute that is used to calculate the current performance of an existing HVAC system operating under actual circumstances.   Once you know how your system is truly performing, you will be better able to make the decision whether to attempt to repair the system or have it replaced in its entirety. 

During the ComfortMaxx evaluation we are looking for the following:  

• HVAC system maintains a consistent, comfortable air temperature throughout your home
• Airflow is properly balanced to each room, and total supply air flow matches total return airflow
• Ductwork doesn’t leak
• Surface temperatures (floors, walls, furniture, etc.) match the room air temperature
• Quiet, consistent operation
• Energy usage is consistent with the rated efficiency of the unit

The fact of the matter is that very few existing or newly installed HVAC systems are capable of fulfilling any of these necessities due to poor system design and installation, yet the qualities listed above should be the standard for a basic installation.   

Based on extensive field research, the National Comfort Institute discovered that the average delivered efficiency of an installed system was less than 60%.*  Now, that is on average…can you imagine how much performance and efficiency is being lost in actuality?  How would you like it if your car only delivered 60% of its fuel economy or 60% of its horsepower on average?  How would you like it if you were served, on average, 60% of a cup of coffee at Starbucks?  I believe that you would notice and demand a little closer to 100% of what you were paying for… just like you should when it comes to heating and cooling your home. 

*Source: NCI Certified Contactor Survey- 2005 to 2011 

What happens when we install a system?

We start with proper design.  That involves performing a Manual J energy load calculation & Manual D duct design on your home.  The Manual J & Manual D (we also use Manual S for register size and placement) is a computer program published by ACCA (The Air Conditioning Contractors of America) that is used to calculate the proper size and design of an air conditioning system needed for a particular home.    

Very few air conditioning contractors perform these calculations before installing a new HVAC system (even though it is actually required by Code) and, instead, rely on the “Manual T” (or “rule of Thumb”); consequently, most HVAC systems (both old and new) are drastically oversized.   Consistent air temperature throughout you home is critical to your comfort but impossible to achieve by guessing and installing oversized equipment.   

Typical characteristics of an oversized HVAC system: 

• Major air temperature fluctuations as the system continually cycles on and off
• Large intermittent blasts of cool or hot air
• Excessive noise
• Increased energy usage
• The house has unbalanced airflow
• Comfort takes a back seat


Duct Design and Installation   

The benefits of a properly sized, high efficiency furnace and air conditioner can be completely undone by a poorly designed air duct system.    

Excessively leaky, improperly sized air ducts with overly extended lengths and sharp turns are typical of most HVAC system designs.  Not surprisingly, these qualities cause major comfort issues in a home.  

Typical characteristics of a poor air duct system:  

• Rooms that are hotter (or colder) than others when the system is operating
• Excessive noise (or whistling) from the supply registers
• A very loud return air register
• Supply registers that blow air directly onto the room occupant

If any of the characteristics listed above remind you of your own home, you should call Splinters Construction & Building Performance, Inc.  

Whole Home Performance and New HVAC Systems  

In order for your new HVAC system to maintain a comfortable, uniform temperature throughout the conditioned space and operate at its most effective and efficient level, it is important that your home is properly insulated and air sealed.    

Having a strong Thermal Boundary (insulation + tight building envelope) will reduce the heating and cooling energy loads of your home, as well as keep your home naturally cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.  

In addition, the size of a new HVAC system needed to comfortably heat and cool a home that is properly air sealed and insulated is significantly less than the size needed if that same house had little or no insulation and was not air sealed.  

For more details about the interrelationship between insulation, building air leakage and HVAC systems, click on the Measured Home Performance tab.

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