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The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry is always changing.
With the increased focus on energy efficiency and air quality, sometimes it can seem like new standards and regulations are released every year!
Even for HVAC industry professionals, it can be a lot to keep up with. There are new guidelines to conform to, new rules to learn, new practices to adopt.
This is particularly true when it comes to construction. While an older home that is left intact may be considered “grandfathered in” when it comes to the existing wiring, appliances, ductwork, and other elements, all that goes out the window when you decide to renovate or remodel that home.
In the same way, if you choose to tear down the existing structure and build something new from the ground up, the new home would be required to comply with existing updated HVAC regulations.
But your HVAC contractor should know all these backward and forward, right? Yes, in theory, they should be able to point out any HVAC design flaws when your project is still in the planning stages.
Here at Shipton’s Heating & Cooling, we often consult with residential and commercial clients who are in the process of creating or revising remodel, renovation, or new construction building plans. This can help sidestep these common HVAC mistakes below.
1. Failing to build in HVAC safeguards for carbon monoxide poisoning and backdrafting
If you hear someone say the words “carbon monoxide,” chances are good you know what they mean. Carbon monoxide, of course, is that deadly gas the Canada Safety Council calls “the silent killer” because it is odourless colourless, invisible, and poisonous.
What makes carbon monoxide even more dangerous is a phenomenon called “backdrafting.” Backdrafting happens when a combustion-based appliance (such as your furnace) fails to expel gaseous byproducts properly. Normally, carbon monoxide and other gases will be expelled to the outside through ventilation (flues, air vents, exhaust vents).
But if your HVAC system, specifically the ventilation aspect, is not properly and meticulously planned, backdrafting can occur. Here, even the presence of a properly functioning carbon monoxide detector will not be able to protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning.
2. Neglecting to create a simple, seamless air duct system to work with your HVAC system
There is a word in the HVAC industry for a poorly designed and routed air duct system: “ductopus.” The reason this nickname arose is simple to figure out when you look at one of these duct systems. It literally looks like a shiny silver octopus with its complex tangle of ducts all twined around each other!
The truth is, even if you buy the top-rated HVAC system, it will still only deliver as much energy efficiency and balanced air flow as its air duct system will permit. Poorly designed and installed air ducts lead to problems with air leakage, temperature regulation, and air flow. These are each issues that can be easily side-stepped with high-quality air duct routing and installation.
3. Forgetting to factor in ventilation
It is easy to get fixated on the heating and air conditioning aspects of HVAC planning. But ventilation is now more critical than ever due to the trend towards “tight homes” (meaning, homes that are securely sealed against air leaks).
A tight home can deliver greater efficiency in terms of how hard your HVAC system has to work to keep your indoor spaces warm or cool. But without adequate ventilation, the air inside your home will quickly become oxygen-depleted, stale, and even toxic.
4. Ignoring the chance to create greater energy efficiency
Even a simple remodel often doesn’t come cheap these days. But people decide to remodel, renovate, or even rebuild completely because there are longer-term savings to be gained from making this type of investment.
At least, theoretically there are savings to be had. In reality, it can be all too easy to end up rushing through the planning process and forgetting all about making these types of long-term efficiency upgrades.
One of the most common neglected upgrades is replenishing or replacing existing interior insulation. Attic, crawlspace, ductwork, and basement insulation can have a particularly measurable effect on your utility bills.
As well, re-doing worn weather stripping and sealing up leaks and cracks in windows, doors, crawlspaces, ductwork, and other key areas can guard against mould and mildew, improve air quality and temperature regulation throughout the space, and, of course, lower your energy bills.
5. Not approaching your construction project as a problem-solving opportunity
Perhaps you have been struggling more with allergies or asthma this year. Maybe you have a basement mould colony that just won’t go away. Or, no matter what you try, some rooms in your space are just warmer or cooler than other rooms.
These are all HVAC problems with potential solutions that can be addressed during a construction project. Yes, it may add a bit of extra time or permitting, materials, or labour expense to your project, but your enjoyment of the results, your family’s health, and your wallet will thank you for making the investment.
Of course, you may not have the knowledge to know what the solutions to these issues are— that is your HVAC consultant’s or contractor’s job. But you do know what the problems are, and that is the most important part!
Give Us a Call
Here at Shipton’s Heating & Cooling, we have nearly a century of expertise in all things heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. We have seen the many stages of evolution within the HVAC industry and remain committed to offering our clients the best of the best in efficiency, affordability, and customer service.
Together with our air quality sister company, Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we have the knowledge and skills to ensure your project results in the cleanest, purest, lowest-cost, and most efficient heating and cooling.