“Bob, I’ve spent a lot of money on your services, and my daughter’s bedroom is still cold. In fact, I’m lying in her bed, and I feel cold air coming from her vent, while we have the furnace on.”
That was an actual email that I received recently.
The background story…
Initially, when our client had called us, it was because her upstairs living space was difficult to keep comfortable. And specifically, her daughter’s bedroom was chronically cold in the winter season.
This is a larger two story house, on a basement. The upstairs living space had a dedicated HVAC system, located in the attic.
The daughter’s bedroom is the 2nd largest bedroom, and has two perimeter walls, with one being a bay window that follows the same lines as the kitchen below. All perimeter walls have double-pane windows. Directly below her room is the kitchen. A jack-and-jill bath connects to the 3rd bedroom.
For HVAC, her bedroom has two SUPPLY vents and one RETURN vent.
Jacob, (our Comfort Pro assigned to this client) recommended that we seal and insulate the attic using spray foam insulation. Our homeowner instead chose the following measures:
- Remove all existing attic insulation.
- Thoroughly seal the attic floor, using expanding Pest Block foam.
- Install a UL rated, Fire Retardant TopHat on each recessed light fixture.
- Add fresh, new Applegate Bora-Spray Cellulose insulation, to a level of R-50.
- Install our zippered, insulated, deluxe Attic Stair Cozy.
I happened to visit this jobsite during the project date, and enjoyed a nice conversation with Ms. Homeowner. I asked her,“How will you know that you’ve made a wise investment… what’s that one result that makes you feel great about employing Bird Family Insulation?”
She immediately responded:“My daughter not complaining that her room is cold!”
I thanked her, and made my way to the all-important bedroom, and then, to the attic… I had a hunch.
In the attic, I studied the duct system. No doubt, our air-sealing and insulation services would improve this home’s comfort. But I was looking for a specific reason why a single room stubbornly would not cooperate with the thermostat.
And I found it: The design of her duct system was flawed! I quickly drew out the redesign and went downstairs to discuss my revelation with our client.
She said she had a maintenance contract (with a very well-known HVAC company), and that they would handle it.
Here is the unbelievable part of this experience: She said,“Bob, are you sure about this? Because I’ve called ___ (HVAC company) about this problem. They’ve sent people out here 4 or 5 times over the last year, and no one has ever mentioned the ducts. The last guy they sent mentioned insulation, so I called you guys. Now you’re telling me it’s the duct system?”
Yep, I’m afraid that’s what I’m saying. This 20-year-old attic was going to benefit from our air-sealing and fresh cellulose insulation. But I was concerned that her daughter’s room would not respond like she wanted… not until we designed the SUPPLY ducts servicing her bedroom.
We finished our job that winter day, and waited. In about 4 weeks, she called us to return and redesign the ducts. The house had responded positively to our air-sealing with upgraded insulation, but the bedroom was lagging behind. She had called her HVAC company to return one more time, and send someone trained to evaluate duct design. The supervisor came out, looked at my notes, reviewed the ducts, and agreed with my assessment.
The big difference was in the pricing! So, she called Bird Family Insulation to return.
Here is our general protocol when we redesign ducts:
- Test the existing airflow in the targeted vents, using our Flowhood.
- Perform the redesign.
- Use the Flowhood again, to retest the vents for improved airflow.
Beau made the duct improvements, and the Flowhood #s responded nicely. We knew we were getting more airflow into this bedroom, without reducing airflow in the other rooms upstairs.
Then, I got the email msg noted above. I was definitely confused and a bit frustrated.
Here is my reply to her email:
Hi Ms. ____,
It’s great to hear from you. It’s not very often that a house doesn’t respond positively to the measures that have been taken at your home. Beau & I have talked about this.
I have a couple of thoughts:
1. With the improved insulation, is the system for the upstairs bedrooms running less often than in the past?
2. I do not recall where your upstairs TSTAT is located. Please refresh my memory… hallway? master suite?
3. It doesn’t seem possible to me that cold air would come from a Supply air vent, with the furnace running. Unless:
a. It was during the first 90 seconds of the heat cycle, or during the “cool-down” phase after the furnace had shut off. Is that possibly when you were lying in her bed?
b. Is your fan setting positioned to “ON”, at your upstairs thermostat? (Instead of “auto”).
At the least, I will return to your home and evaluate what’s going on, and I hope to find out why her bedroom remains uncomfortably cold.
I am available Wednesday morning, this week, (May 2). Does that work for you?
Many thanks, BOB
Great News! Shortly after I sent this email, she responded with her brief reply:
“Checked Thermostat,and fan setting was ‘ON’, instead of auto. Not sure how that happened.”
She had been lying in the bed between heat cycles, and the fan was moving air through the ducts, blowing what seemed like cold air on her face.
Sometimes our comfort is impacted by a simple setting. The good news is that the channel of communication always remained open, and we were committed to finding the solution, “getting this right”.
Once again, here is a perfect example between a company that is SOLUTION DRIVEN and companies who are PRODUCT DRIVEN, with few options, and less-than 5 STAR Customer Service.