If it runs like a duct, Steven does not approve

Ron Dahlke and Steven scheduled this morning to audit the duct work in the attic.

Steven does not approve.

When the ducts were first roughed in a couple of weeks back, Steven identified and discussed with Ron several tangled ducts and errors that required correction. Ron and Mark Rehberg reviewed Steven’s notes, discussed the issues with Ross Britton, the HVAC consultant. Steven is told that Ross concurred with Steven’s assessment, and ordered up corrections by Elite, the HVAC installer.

That was then. Today is the first chance to stick our noses into the attic — and come away knowing that Elite has a lot more to fix — a second time.

At 4 pm, Ron reports he met today with Kyle from Elite — and Elite is coming back Thursday for a third attempt.

Above, one of the ducts in the attic is ripped open. Why didn’t Elite spot this and fix it?

At what will be the attic hatch, Ron is looking at a duct strangled by the black hanger. That will choke airflow and affect efficiency. Behind Ron's head, three duct runs are stacked one atop the other. With the result that the bottom duct is crushed. That bottom duct is apparently the duct that feeds the kitchen and office, by routing through the chase in the master bath. Steven suggests this duct should be relocated to the east side of the attic, where there is a clear run straight from the plenum to the chase. That will eliminate the compression behind Ron's head, open up space for the ducts behind Ron's head by removing one of the three runs, and improve airflow to the kitchen and office. It's obvious. Why didn't Elite plan and do this?
At what will be the attic hatch, Ron is looking at a duct strangled by the black hanger. That will choke airflow and affect efficiency. Behind Ron’s head, three duct runs are stacked one atop the other. With the result that the bottom duct is crushed. That bottom duct is apparently the duct that feeds the kitchen and office, by routing through the chase in the master bath. Steven suggests this duct should be relocated to the east side of the attic, where there is a clear run straight from the plenum to the chase. That will eliminate the compression behind Ron’s head, open up space for the ducts behind Ron’s head by removing one of the three runs, and improve airflow to the kitchen and office. It’s obvious. Why didn’t Elite plan and do this?
At left, two return ducts knot around each other. Why? Then the lower duct is pulled up to the peak of the attic, crammed into the narrow space created by the horizontal collar ties, and choked four times as it travels across four collar ties. Why? And, in this position, the insulation installers will never be able to blow foam against the roof to properly insulate the house. The solution is to untie the knot, extend the duct run to the right side of the attic in this photo, rest the duct against the ceiling rafters, let it travel out to the north side of the attic, relaxed, improving airflow and efficiency. Why didn't Elite think of and do this?
At left, two return ducts knot around each other. Why? Then the lower duct is pulled up to the peak of the attic, crammed into the narrow space created by the horizontal collar ties, and choked four times as it travels across four collar ties. Why? And, in this position, the insulation installers will never be able to blow foam against the roof to properly insulate the house. The solution is to untie the knot, extend the duct run to the right side of the attic in this photo, rest the duct against the ceiling rafters, let it travel out to the north side of the attic, relaxed, improving airflow and efficiency. Why didn’t Elite think of and do this?
Here's a better shot of the duct crammed into the collar ties and choked.
Here’s another shot of the duct crammed into the collar ties and choked — with a second duct also jammed up tight into the same limited space. Why? When there’s so many better ways to run both ducts, relaxed, in wide-open attic space to the right of this photo.
Here's the same duct run from 180 degrees opposite, looking back at the knot, choked at each collar tie and black hanger strap.
Here’s the same duct run from 180 degrees opposite, looking back at the knot, choked at each collar tie and black hanger strap.
The black strap hangers choke the ducts in several locations into 90 degree turns that will restrict airflow if not corrected.
The black strap hangers choke the ducts in several locations into 90 degree turns that will restrict airflow if not corrected.
This is one of several spaghetti bowls -- duct wrapped around duct squeezed past another duct wrapped around another duct. Why? There are so many better, more logical, simpler ways to run each duct from A to B. All it takes is someone humming a song from Sesame Street -- around around around around over and under and through -- to know what to not do with duct work.
This is one of several spaghetti bowls — duct wrapped around duct squeezed past another duct wrapped around another duct. Why? There are so many better, more logical, simpler ways to run each duct from A to B. All it takes is someone humming a song from Sesame Street — “around around around around over and under and through” — to know what to not do with duct work.

There are other fixes required to exhaust vents that circle 180 degrees, then split, and then each split circles back 180 degrees to end up reversing the original airflow — when relocating the split six feet would result in two straight runs. That’s all the thought and planning needed.

Steven will not approve the HVAC install until all the fixes are completed and he again audits the work.

All this is based on hard-won and unfortunate experience at Sea Eagle, where Steven learned from Carrier as it ripped out and replaced air handlers, condensers and ducts that added up to 30 pages of repair orders. Steven is adamant about not repeating history. Those lessons do not make Steven an HVAC expert. Those lessons do not make Steven an HVAC engineer. Or installer. But what’s wrong is obvious and must be addressed before Steven signs off on the HVAC system.

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