Begin to See How Your Heating or Cooling System
is Really Working
Your home heating and cooling system may not be delivering the comfort and efficiency you're paying the utility company for.
For example, if your heating system isn't able to "keep up" on colder days, there's a good chance it's undersized. If it turns on and off constantly, chances are it's oversized. If your cooling system just won't cool your house down on the warmest days, there's a good chance it's undersized, or wasn't installed correctly. If it cycles on and off constantly and doesn't seem to pull the humidity out, it's likely oversized. This condition also wastes a great deal of energy and causes unnecessary wear and tear on your equipment.
2. Incorrect Duct System
Most homes have a heating and cooling system that was designed for ideal scenarios. Unfortunately most homes are never ideal and often the air delivery systems do not work the way they were designed. In some cases, a duct system may be installed improperly or was damaged at some point so that it's not delivering the correct air into each room. This usually results in an uncomfortable home. Our technicians can check the airflow into each room and evaluate if your system is delivering the correct amount for the size of each room in your home.
3. Poor Air Quality
The funny thing about air quality is that you can't always smell it, but you can often feel it, and it can be a major contributor to discomfort in the home. Poor air quality can be anything from excess humidity in the air to bacteria and mold spores or even gasses emitting from your furnace or air conditioner. We have a variety of methods to check your home's air quality and report back to you. Some problems may be a minor nuisance and others could be life threatening.
4. Home Ventilation and Pressure
Even when you're not home, there are a variety of physical activities taking place that you can't see. Your home is a living and breathing entity with constant air movement - even when the heating or cooling system is turned off. The degree to which your home is sealed up or unsealed affects pressures that determine the way air travels throughout the home. This pressure can be controlled through proper venting and ducting depending on what is required. Air balancing can help correct these pressure imbalances. This process should only be performed by technicians who are trained and certified, and have the right instruments to measure and adjust the air in your home.
A ComfortMaxx Certified System is your assurance that your equipment is operating at its fullest potential for your investment, and your entire system is working in harmony to deliver the most comfort for your hard-earned dollars.
From a comfort perspective this means your home ranks in the top 5% in the nation in terms of even year-round indoor comfort and optimum IAQ (Indoor Air Quality).
It's important to understand that a heating and cooling system is much more than the boxes that make hot and cold air. While manufacturers have made great strides in creating more efficient and reliable equipment, the equipment alone cannot insure maximum energy efficiency or comfort.
Every component of your system, from your furnace, air conditioner, ducts, grilles and registers along with accessory components like filters, air cleaners, humidifiers, etc., affect your system's real performance, energy use, comfort, and indoor air quality.
If you are building a new home we will ensure your new system is properly designed, installed and adjusted to maximize both your energy-use, comfort and indoor air quality.
If your system is in an existing home we are trained to take the necessary measures to maximize its performance. This may include duct system renovation, equipment replacement and/or adding components to your system.
Whether new or used, we are specially prepared to provide a fair assessment of your heating and cooling system.
*BTUs (British Thermal Units) is the amount of heat added or removed by your comfort system each hour.
A ComfortMaxx Certified System™ delivers the lowest possible utility bills for the type and efficiency rating of your equipment. For example, your air conditioning equipment comes from the factory with a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) rating based solely on how it performed in a test lab under perfect conditions.
Gas furnaces have a similar rating known as AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) also arrived at in a perfect lab environment. Unfortunately these “perfect conditions” rarely exist in both new or existing homes.
If your current heating or cooling service man is not providing or offering efficiency testing it’s like a doctor giving you medicine without testing your blood pressure.
The truth is, even if your heating and cooling system appears to be working correctly it may not be delivering the comfort and efficiency you paid for.
Since the days when we began heating and cooling our homes, a typical service call was limited to checking the major parts of the heating and cooling equipment. Until now, our industry has lacked the technology and the skills to include the duct system in your service agreement and measure the operating capacity of your system.
When a system didn’t work, our only option was to replace the equipment, this is very costly, and often did little to improve system performance. Now we include the duct system and testing system performance as part of our service and are able to diagnose and pinpoint system deficiencies.
It’s easy to assume that if you have the most recent model of furnace or air conditioner in your home, you should have the most efficient system possible. But unlike a self contained stove or refrigerator, your air conditioning and heating system depends on a series of ducts and registers winding through your home. HeatMaxx and CoolMaxx rate the live operating efficiency of the entire installed system. This has been previously unavailable to homeowners.
Part of our testing includes measuring air pressures in your system. From these tests we can determine the airflow through your system and verify the resistance through your air filters. Using this and other data we can calculate the delivered BTU from your system. Filter pressure can have a drastic effect on the performance of your system.
Much like your doctor who may determine, through a blood pressure test, that you are experiencing some problems; our Maxx test is only a preliminary analysis of your system.
It will give us a general idea of how your heating or cooling system is working. If your doctor finds you have low or high blood pressure he will schedule more tests for you.
If you are happy with your delivered efficiency, no further steps need to be taken. If, however, you find you are only getting 50, 60 or 70 percent of the rated equipment capacity, you may want to have further testing and diagnosis completed to determine how performance can be improved. Our company is well equipped to provide you with the testing and knowledge.
Call us today at to learn more about our HeatMaxx and CoolMaxx services.
A poorly performing duct system can cause air comfort problems, high utility bills and could become hazardous. A qualified contractor can measure your entire system’s performance and show you how to get the most out of your central heating and air conditioning.
How well do my ducts work?
Ducts move air, and air is invisible. So to determine if your ducts work or not, air properties must be measured. An NCI certified contractor can measure how much air goes to each room and compare it to how much is needed. He will also take other measurements including temperatures and pressures to determine how well your ducts work. Then your contractor will review the results of the test with you.
Can my ducts be fixed?
The typical duct renovation includes removing damaged ducts, straightening them, adding proper suspension and sealing all the joints. Sometimes larger ducts need to be installed to certain rooms or the registers and grilles need to be replaced. Your contractor should review the test results with you and make recommendations for duct repairs or additions. Other improvements might include adjusting fan speeds or improving your air filtration system.
What should I expect from my heating/cooling contractor?
An NCI-certified contractor will first ask you questions about the system, what you like and don’t like about it, problem areas, air quality concerns, health issues, etc. He should then perform some preliminary testing to determine the condition of your system, the biggest problem areas, and so forth. This is generally performed using several instruments including a manometer which measures your systems pressure, much like a doctor checks blood pressure. He will typically measure the amount of air coming out of each vent with a special instrument called a “Flow Hood.” Other measurements might include temperature, humidity and carbon monoxide testing.
QUESTION: Why don’t other contractors address my duct system?
ANSWER: Unfortunately few have the knowledge or own the tools and instruments to measure the performance of your duct system. If they can’t measure it, they have no idea how to fix it, or even where to begin. They assume that the ducts are just fine.
QUESTION: How can ducts affect my system performance?
ANSWER: Here’s an example: A 30% return duct leak on a hot or cold day can decrease your heating or cooling capacity more than 50% That may sound extreme, but it’s not an uncommon condition.
QUESTION: Other contractors have offered to seal my ducts. Isn’t that the same thing?
ANSWER: No. While duct sealing is definitely done as part of a renovation, sealing by itself cannot address many of the flaws in a duct system. In many cases, just sealing the duct can make the problem worse, as it could choke down airflow causing equipment failure, major comfort problems. In extreme cases, it has caused back-drafting of flues leading to dangerous carbon monoxide problems.
QUESTION: Will renovating my ducts make the rooms that are uncomfortable finally more comfortable?
ANSWER: Comfort will increase. A good renovation should also improve indoor air quality and reduce energy use.
How can I be assured the ducts have been renovated properly?
Your Contractor should test and adjust the results of his work when the duct renovation has been completed. This step is called air balancing. Up to just 10 years ago, air balancing was performed only on large commercial buildings. Today you can get this same performance adjustment in your home from an NCI trained and certified contractor. He will provide you with a test report showing the final operating condition of your system compared to how it functioned before the repairs were made. In other words, your contractor will prove that you got what you paid for - in writing!
Are you preparing to make a major decision on your heating and air conditioning system? Perhaps this is your first comfort system purchase. This information can help you make an informed, confident decision.
A History Lesson
Air balancing is an ancient trade dating back to 1732 when a French Engineer named Henri Pitot created a method for measuring fluid pressure. Even though air balancing is critical to the performance of your air conditioning and heating system, less than 5000 individuals in the world are trained and certified in air balancing today. Make sure your contractor employs Certified Air Balancing Technicians.
Air Balancing Defined
In its simplest form, Air Balancing is the process of testing and adjusting your air conditioning system to deliver the right amount of air to each room in your home. The actual Air Balancing process includes a number of related tests that determine the performance of your air conditioning and heating system. Air balancing hoods are used to measure the amount of air at each grille. Manometers measure system pressures. Hygrometers measure system temperature and humidity. The results of all these tests are compiled into a report to determine how well your system is functioning.
What Air Balancing Can Do for Your System
It’s not uncommon to find a system 30% to 50% low on airflow. Air passes through the equipment and carries the heating or cooling inside. The effectiveness of the equipment is entirely dependent on the amount of airflow. When your certified technician measures the airflow he can "see" system performance. With this information he can diagnose, repair and balance the duct system for maximum system performance. The end result is rooms that are the same temperature, cleaner air, better humidity control and real energy savings.
QUESTION: Can any system be balanced?
ANSWER: A contractor with the right tools and training can improve the performance of virtually any system. The more accessible your ductwork is, the easier it is to perform balancing and duct renovation work.
QUESTION: What’s the difference between an NCI Certified Technician and other heating and air conditioning techs?
ANSWER: Most companies are in business to just fix or replace heating and cooling equipment. Your certified Air Balancing Technician considers the entire system and is qualified to test, diagnose, and repair your ducts as well as your equipment.
QUESTION: Most contractors tell me that I’ll save big on my utility bills and be more comfortable by just replacing my existing equipment with a more efficient model. Is this true?
ANSWER: It could be, as long as the duct system is in the same condition as the new equipment. If it isn’t, the system will only function as well as the ducts do. Compare it to installing a brand-new race car engine on an old beat up sedan.
QUESTION: How will air balancing solve my problem of rooms with different temperature?
ANSWER: The airflow through the system is what carries the heating or cooling. By adjusting the volume of airflow, we adjust the amount of heating or cooling a room needs to become comfortable.
Most people confuse topics like an Energy Star rating with how efficiently their heating and cooling system is really operating. National Comfort Institute Certified Contractors use what they call an SER rating.
SER™ is a relatively new standard in the air conditioning and heating industry. It stands for System Efficiency Ratio. It's an efficiency rating of your installed system, including the effects of the ducting and the construction of your home.
When a typical heating and cooling contractor quotes the efficiency of the equipment (SEER or AFUE) and leads you to believe the new equipment will automatically deliver that efficiency, think again.
Typical installed equipment only operates at 55% to 70% of rated capacity. An NCI trained and certified contractor will field-measure the installed efficiency of your old system. Your contractor may then recommend improvements while installing your new equipment. He will then measure the new system's performance to prove the new system is functioning as designed. By taking this approach your contractor will help insure that you get the comfort and energy savings you're paying for.
When an NCI certified contractor measures the SER™ of your system, the test reveals the ratio of actual heating or cooling delivery compared to the rated amount the equipment produced when the manufacturer tested the equipment.
For example if an air conditioner worked perfectly, it would be rated at a CSER™ of 100%. But if it only delivered half the cooling, the CSER would be 50%. In simple terms, 14 SEER air conditioning equipment could only operate like 7 SEER equipment. HSER™ and CSER™ HSER stands for Heating System Efficiency Ratio - it rates your heating system's efficiency. CSER represents Cooling System Efficiency Ratio and rates the efficiency of your air conditioning system.
This rating provides specific information about the performance of your system that has never been available to consumers before. More important, the testing that establishes the rating identifies exactly what needs to be done to your system to improve your comfort and efficiency.
While new high efficiency heating and cooling equipment may help, the number one factor in determining system efficiency is your duct system. Heating and cooling travels through ducts that are often too restrictive, damaged, poorly maintained, or improperly designed and installed from the beginning.
Your certified contractor can fix many of these problems and increase your SER. An NCI certified Combustion Analyst can also measure and adjust your furnace's combustion efficiency for maximum fuel savings.
Make sure to set aside ample time for your contractor to test your system. The time required depends on the size of your home. Normally, the testing takes between one and two hours. But stay for the show. The testing is clean, informative and entertaining.
It's important to understand that equipment ratings are only the potential efficiency of that component of the system under perfect conditions. Think of it as trying to rate your car's mpg based on just testing the motor by itself. Over half of the system's efficiency depends on the duct system and the field-installation.
Your expectations should be realistic. Most home's wont rate at 100% efficient. It has been done before, but it's very difficult. SER Ratings of 90% or better are frequently achieved. What's more important is that your system's efficiency can often be increased by 25% to 50%. The biggest benefit is the increase in comfort that you will enjoy every day by actually getting the heating and cooling you're paying for!
Don't be fooled by imitations there are less than 5000 technicians in the world NCI certified to perform this testing. Most contractors simply aren't willing to invest in the tools and training to provide this valuable service.