How to waste lots of energy and create a dangerous living or working environment…
This is a mistake that can have serious, even deadly consequences.
When you think you have seen it all, there is always something to top it.
It amazes me when contractors who claim they have years of experience can walk past serious building deficiencies and not recognize it or have the knowledge to correct it, if there is a problem.
Let’s start with some basics for those of you that have a forced air heating & cooling system. For a forced air system to work properly it must have balanced or slightly positive pressure. That means the duct work cannot have leaks in it! Especially if it is outside the building envelope!
Now why is that? Because it sucks the outside inside! And it creates dangerous negative pressure inside!
Now every energy conscious contractor knows that duct-work should not be outside the conditioned building envelope in the first place, but that is a topic for another day.
Let’s say the duct work is in an unconditioned space like the attic or crawl space…which is outside the living space and the duct-work is leaky. You have just created an unbalanced system or created negative pressure in your living space. This means you are drawing outside unconditioned air into your HVAC system and into your living space. Your system will run and run and run and never be able to properly heat or cool or dehumidify your home or office. Everything in that crawl space or attic is now in your living space.
How do you like a little mold and humidity in your living and breathing area?
What is even worse is that by creating negative pressure in the living or working space you have created a back-draft effect and if you have gas appliances it will draw the fumes back into your home creating dangerous and even deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
It can also bring excessive amounts of radon into your living space!
Now this is basic building knowledgeable that any contractor should be familiar with and if he/she is not you should run from them! FAST!
I recently uncovered one of the most obvious and egregious building deficiencies I have ever encountered. It was a building that was using four times more energy than required. The building was uncomfortable, impossible to cool and had excessive humidity inside at almost all times.
The worst part was that it had been occupied for years by “supposedly experienced contractors” they thought it was just a poorly insulated building, but what I found in a matter of minutes was unbelievable.
The return air duct not only had breaks in it in the unconditioned crawl/storage area but someone had installed a vent in the return duct in an unsealed area beneath a building with raw dirt and rock walls that was not even covered in poly! They were trying to heat and cool this unsealed area and what made it even worse was that chlorine and other pool chemicals were being stored right next to this return.
This is no different than opening your windows and trying to heat or cool the outside air.
People that do idiotic things like this should be completely banned from all building trades until they receive enough basic training where they cannot put others in potentially dangerous situations like this. This is unbelievable incompetence that caused not only an unhealthy & uncomfortable situation, but has wasted thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands in wasted energy.
In another part of the air return they were using the wall cavity itself as a return. There is no way to properly seal this with a water pipe and wiring among other things running through it. I guess the biggest question would be why did they even try when they actually installed a vent in another part of it?
Whoever did this work did not have a clue what they were doing or they did not care about the well-being of others; either way this is inexcusable! And the same goes for someone that inspected this work over many years and either didn't have a clue or didn't care.
This is one of the stupidest contractor tricks I have ever seen!
Check out more stupid contractor tricks at greentite.com