Quality Home Comfort Award for 2001

a magazine article discussing the quality home comfort runner up given to climate partners.

Climate Partners won their third Quality Home Comfort Award in just two years for upgrading a residential home comfort system. For this particular project, Climate Engineering was named the contracting Business' 2001 Residential Contractor of the Year.

The project was one of the most challenging, involving a uniquely designed 7,500 square foot home in Stratford, CT. Tom Casey Jr., Climate Engineering's CEO, said this was “one of the very coolest and unique homes” he'd ever seen and he makes a living catering to exclusive homes. But from a comfort standpoint, it was very difficult due to the layout of the two-story home and the U shape design it had with guest quarters, an exercise room, office and game room on the lower level, and sleeping quarters on the main level.

The home was built into the side of a ledge overlooking Connecticut's Housatonic River and also had a swimming pool squarely in the middle of the U shaped home that was surrounded by the house on three sides and enclosed by a two-story glass atrium on the fourth side. Although the design was unique, it was a nightmare for the homeowner because moisture and odor would migrate from the pool to living areas in the home.

In The Beginning

Climate Engineering had been caring for a 10-year-old home for years even though they weren't the original installer. The old mechanical systems had three comfort conditioning units and another unit dedicated to the pool area. The heating source was two pulse-style boilers, with domestic water heaters and the pool was heated through a gas-fired unit in the backyard.

Homeowner Steve Kellogg was aware that the original system was reaching its end as evidence showed in increasing number of emergency repairs. Kellogg also wanted redundancies built into a new system so his wife and children wouldn't have to deal with HVAC-related issues when he wasn't around. Casey recommended a full system evaluation since due to complaints that the original HVAC system was so bad that it never worked correctly and about 80% of the neighborhood homes also had HVAC complaints.

The thing that impressed Kellogg the most was that while dealing with Climate Engineering he was “dealing with an engineer who could do the calculations and explain why the old system wasn't working. “They came in and did the job as engineers first, with follow-up and implementation as a contractor.”

Climate Engineering evaluated the entire Kellogg home system and in the process they detected the reason why the pool system was not working properly was because basic engineering principles just couldn't work anymore. Casey explained the importance of looking at the entire home and system, rather than just fixing pool system issues. He presented a complete proposal, then listed the items that could be deleted – along with an explanation of the consequences for making deletions. Kellogg had time to think it over and called Casey the next day to agree to the full proposal.

The System Takes Shape

The Climate Engineering solution included one system for the pool and three seperate systems to handle the rest of the house. A two-speed condenser and variable-speed air handler were applied to handle the sensible and latent loads and a hydronic heating coil with a modulating hot water valve was installed for comfort and reheating requirements.

It was necessary to keep the pool area under negative pressure relative to the rest of the house to maintain proper control of the pool area and to avoid moisture and odor migration. A fan was configured to constantly exhaust a fixed amount of air from the pool area and all air handling systems were equipped with fresh air intake ducts to positively pressure the residence. The return duct system was retrofitted into the peak of the pool area and a barometric relief duct was added to take advantage of natural stack effect and provide additional negative flow and pressure in the pool area.

Although moisture and chlorine would previously damage the pool area furniture, Kellogg said his wife was already buying new furniture to turn the pool area into a cafe-style area and that the area was now just as comfortable as any room in the house.

Good, Clean, Fun

As usual, Climate Engineering paid close attention to details and cleaned up every night before leaving the job. Climate Engineering also immediately set up a temporary hot water heater in the driveway to provide domestic hot water while the new boilers were being installed in the home and since the Kellogg family was still occupying the home during the project.

Once all equipment was in place, Climate Engineering tested and balanced everything before turning to the direct digital control (DDC) designed specifically for the Kelloggs. The DDC featured time of day scheduling by zone, override by zone, optimal stop and start, staged heating and cooling with modulation, constant filtration and purification, pressurization control for the pool and residence, temperature and humidity control in the pool area, trending, remote access, boiler rotation, boiler reset, carbon monoxide monitoring and recording, and pool and domestic water temperature control. An on-site computer gave Kellogg a graphical interface to the system (complete with floor plans), and a point-and-click adjustability.

Typically, it's unusual for a company to do their own DDC work, but Climate Engineering usually handles these for commercial buildings that don't need a true graphic interface. So in this situation, they were to digitize everything so that the Kelloggs could click on a room and see what's going on in that room, or click on a piece of equipment to see if it's powered on or off, and what the temperature is set to. They even added graphics such as ductwork that changes from blue to red to indicate heat being pumped through the duct.

Casey said the DDC system was pretty slick and they had fun with it. It's monitored 24 hours a day and if there's a problem, Climate Engineering is automatically notified so Climate Partners can respond to a problem before the Kelloggs even know the problem exists.

Something Special

Not only did this project solve the residential comfort problems, but it may have saved the face of the HVAC industry in the process; all while earning Tom Casey Jr. and Climate Engineering their third Quality Home Comfort Award in just two years. The house was “only 10 years old, and the only problem has been the HVAC system,” said Steve Kellogg. He explained that he was getting aggravated by the fly-by-night contractors and their ineffective fixes. He said that it was refreshing to find himself dialoging with someone who could really understand and solve the issues they had, and that's just what Casey did.

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