Climate Partners won the Quality Home Comfort Award for a custom home comfort design for a beach house along the shore of Long Island Sound, CT. The house posed many issues but in the end, Climate Partners was able to pull off another successful home comfort design.
Homeowners, Ed and Cindy Pohl, contacted Climate Engineering to do the project because of their reputation and expertise in comfort renovating, as well as their recognition as five time Quality Home Comfort Award winners since 1995. They knew exactly what they wanted and that was the right system design and install in their dream home.
The house had an open floor plan with large expanses of glass to emphasize the ocean views and sounds right outside the home. Many problems and factors arose, including the site and design of the home, that set the stage for the award-winning job. Large windows wrapped around the back of the home, and the floor plan didn't accommodate placement of registers, grilles, and diffusers. Climate Engineering had to ensure that no condensation would form on the insides of the windows, even if cold winds were able to agitate them. They also had to consider enormous solar gains that are present during all four seasons due to the large windows facing southeast.
Other problems also came into consideration including the open stairways connecting three flights of stairs that served as a mixing chamber for the home's air. The informal open floor plan also had independent temperature zones that needed to be maintained despite the diverse exposure of the rooms, and since the homeowners often used the home to entertain guests, the open floor plan needed to have the ability to modulate and adjust to varying occupancies and uses year-round.
The home was also located along a flood zone with no basement, so local codes dictated the mechanical and electrical systems set-up and position so that they wouldn't be negatively affected in the case of a flood. The vaulted ceilings meant there was no attic for equipment, and the demanding homeowner would only accept what's best for his home.
Although the project posed many issues, Tom Casey with Climate Engineering, was confident that they could exceed the Pohl's expectations due to their experience with difficult retrofit jobs. This was not a retrofit job, but Tom Casey said that new construction was a much easier task because “you can meet with the general contractor and create spaces to do what you need to do. You can say, 'We need this much room,' and while you might not get exactly what you ask for, you'll generally at least get something you can work with. On a retrofit, you're always trying to squeeze your solution into the existing configuration of the house.”
Tom Casey also didn't mind the demands of the Pohl's as they were willing to listen and learn throughout the process, so they understood what it would take to make the job right. The job became a partnership between the Pohl's and Climate Engineering.
The President of Architecture, Jim Venno, also said “Climate Engineering was just masterful in the way they handled the Pohl's house. They were among the best I've ever seen at designing and installing a system to handle the needs of a unique structure.”
The challenges posed by large windows were solved by dedicating specific zones to them and evenly distributing air along all the glass. Close attention was paid to the placement of registers and grilles to serve a three-fold purpose of preventing drafts, eliminating condensation on the windows, and maintaining nearly silent noise levels. The dedicated zones for the windows were able to keep glass temperatures above the dew point, which is key to preventing condensation and moisture problems. Climate Engineering's design keeps the glass clear by “washing” the insides of the windows with conditioned air.
The beachfront home sits on pilings with walls that were designed to break away if a flood occurs, allowing the home to stand without the walls, but Climate Engineering conditioned the walls to enhance the comfort of the first floor's tile flooring. They also added an extra modulating zone with programmable controls and a dedicated return inlet into the system to provide warm air to the storage basement so that the Pohl's never had to worry about the discomfort of cold floors.
The system needed to be inconspicuous in appearance and sound levels because the Pohl's wanted to keep an emphasis on quiet, unobtrusive comfort. Careful attention was paid to duct design, register and grille placement, and the variable air volume control strategy to ensure the silent comfort of the home.
The final component of the job was complete system commissioning which included the start-up of each piece of equipment, clocking gas furnace inputs, digital combustion analysis to verify efficiency, cycling and proving all limits and switches, checking the cooling systems using charging charts and superheat/subcooling to test for proper refrigerant levels, measuring all temperature rises and drops to ensure they're within an acceptable range, and performing carbon monoxide tests. Additionally, all systems were fully air balanced, including static pressure testing of the furnaces and coils, and air flow at each register was verified with an electronic flow hood.
Commissioning is necessary to make sure that everything is working properly by measuring and testing every aspect, then identifying and correcting any issues so that customers never know that there was a potential problem. The Pohl's are not only very satisfied with the quality of their home comfort system, but also with the quality of Climate Engineering and its people. “Everyone from Climate Engineering has been very nice and very professional, and they did a great job,” said Cindy Pohl. “In fact, we'd like to adopt their salesman, Sean Banks, He really took very good care of us.”
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