When a contractor gets a call about a unit not working, the solution is usually easy to find. Either it’s a standard repair, or the box needs to be replaced. In this particular case, a little bit of investigating on the contractor’s part led to a much bigger issue and a much happier customer in the end.
Comfort consultant Phil McCarty of John’s Refrigeration, Mesa, AZ, was originally called to this 4,000 sq.ft. home in Scottsdale because the homeowners wanted a recommendation on how to get their units up and running. Bill and Aimee Edwards had recently moved to the house and had noticed there were some uncomfortable areas in the home.
“After a $65 diagnostic the homewoners decided to go with a unit replacement rather than a repair,” Andrew John, owner, John’s Refrigeration says. “The home owner had uneven temperatures, high utility bills, and dust problems. Even though they were new to the home, they noticed these issues right away.”
A Bigger Issue
When the technicians arrived to do the replacement, they discovered there was more to the problem. “During our survey, we discovered major duct leakage, low return air, major pathways from the attic in the return air plenums, and supply duct routing problems. There was a direct path from the return to the attic. It was in a chase that wasn’t visible to the homeowners or anyone else. From the day it was built, they had a two-foot hole that was connected from the house to the attic that was sucking hot air, dirt and contaminants right into the system,” John explains.
The John’s Refrigeration team decided to install two 21 SEER Lennox units. “The Edwards are a young family and they like to entertain. As we looked at the loads and did our calculations, we went with the two-stage units so we could accomplish having the capacity they needed when they had a full house. We like the Lennox communicating system because there are many different configurations that can be customized for each individual home,” John says.
The project was not without its challenges. “We had to cut a hole in the wall at the top of the stairwell to get into the attic area,” John explains. “There was no way to get the old equipment out, or the new equipment in without cutting a pretty significant hole right in the middle of the wall on the stairwell. We had a dry waller come out and fix it afterwards. He did a great job because after the work was completed, I couldn’t even tell where the hole was.”
Energy efficiency was a top priority for the John’s Refrigeration team. “Every part of this project paid attention to efficiency,” John says. “Sealing the attic paths, sealing the duct system, installing proper plenums and dampers, and adding more return air. The air test report showed almost of the unit’s return air was coming from the hot Arizona attic. The Edwards were easily spending 20-30% more on utility bills just from that problem alone.”
After the install, John returned to the home to make sure everything was correct. “I went through all the stats and configurations to make sure things were working and to see where adjustments were needed. One thing we like to do at John’s Refrigeration, is make sure that we follow up with our customers. We want them to live with the new unit for a month or two before we go in and make changes to the airflow.”
Dampers were installed on all of the supply ducts running off of the units so that the system could be tweaked and fine-tuned according to the homeowners needs. “Mr. Edwards is pretty tech savvy. I showed him a couple of different settings that he can program so as summer progresses, he can make changes to suit their lifestyle,” John says.
Attention to detail and making an extra effort paid off for both the homeowner and the contractor.
“We sat down with the customer and found out exactly what they needed,” John explains. “Most companies would have just replaced the boxes and left. Not only were we able to determine their existing problems, but we also found the real culprits in the home. It was really nice that it gave us the opportunity find and solve problems that were causing challenges for the homeowner. Our attention to detail will not only save this customer money, but it provides a better environment for them to live in.”
Congrats to the team at John’s Refrigeration for going the extra mile and setting the bar higher for other HVAC contractors in the Mesa, AZ, area.
Products Key to Success
• Lennox XP21 5-ton
• Lennox CBX32MV air handler
• Lennox iComfort touchscreen thermostat
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WHAT ARE THE QUALITY HOME COMFORT AWARDS & HOW TO ENTER
In 1991 Contracting Business.com magazine created the Quality Home Comfort Award program to recognize the very best in residential HVAC comfort system design and application.
COMFORT, QUALITY, and SUSTAINABILITY are our foremost requirements (This includes energy savings and indoor air quality as important parts of the overall consideration). UNIQUE IDEAS and PROBLEM SOLVING techniques are equally important. And start-up/commissioning procedures are key to the successful entry. Judging will be done by a panel of leading residential HVAC contractors.
Mail entries with sample photographs of good quality to Terry McIver, executive editor, ContractingBusiness.com, 1300 E. 9th St., Penton Building, Cleveland, OH 44114. OR, USE OUR ONLINE ENTRY FORM: found here.