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Need help finding a contractor for energy efficiency projects

BlakeFL | Posted in General Questions on

I recently purchased a home in Central Florida and have found the house need some extensive work in the attic. The ducts consist of a duct board trunk and flex pipe to the registers. The trunk line has deteriorated significantly and is leaking in many places. The flex pipe looks to have UV damage and the outer wrap is torn in a few places. I had a couple hvac contractors quote for fixing the duct work but they either suggested just patching or replacement consisting of the same poor quality materials that are up there already. The attic also isn’t air sealed and the insulation doesn’t even come up to the top of the 2×4 trusses. Can someone give me a good way of searching for a contractor to come and resolve these issues the right way?

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Replies

  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Blake,
    You might ask a home energy rater certified by RESNET or BPI to recommend a qualified contractor. (If you visit the RESENT and BPI web sites, you can search for certified experts in your area.)

    You might also want to call up a builder of Energy Star Homes in your area to ask for advice.

  2. BlakeFL | | #2

    Thanks for the help. I went ahead and emailed a few companies on the RESNET list and already got a response from one that will be coming out for a quote. Thanks for the help. I'll post back with progress of my projects hopefully soon.

  3. BlakeFL | | #3

    Additional Question - In Florida, do you think DIY Radiant Barrier like AtticFoil would be a good purchase even if I plan on upgrading the depth of my insulation? I think it would cost less than $300 and I could even do it for less if I just focus on the areas of the house that get the most sun with no tree shade. The west side of our house has no protection from the sun and gets hot very quickly.

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Blake,
    If you can't find a way to move your ductwork inside your home's thermal envelope, and if you can't afford to create an unvented conditioned attic, then installing a radiant barrier along the roof slope makes sense.

    For more information, see Creating a Conditioned Attic.

  5. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #5

    With 2x4 trussed roof you may not have sufficient space to get the R38 code minimum R38 all the way out over the exterior walls and still have 1" of clearance for vent space between the roof deck and the insulation, unless the truss was specifically designed with an "energy heel" to provide that space. See Table N1102.1.2 about halfway down the page- you're in Zone 2:

    http://codes.iccsafe.org/app/book/content/2015-I-Codes/2015%20IRC%20HTML/Chapter%2011.html

    With cellulose that would take about 11" of insulation + 1" of vent space. If you don't have anywhere near that much vertical space for insulation above the exterior walls, going with conditioned attic would be a good idea. It's not cheap, since that gives you another inch of space to work with at that location. And by bringing the ducts inside of conditioned space it takes at least another half-ton to ton off the peak air conditioning load.

    A sealed conditioned attic has relevant benefits in your location beyond mere energy use & comfort issues. With a sealed attic the house can take much higher winds before the roof peels off, making it far more hurricane resistant than identical house with a vented attic.

    Adding radiant barrier would have some benefit, but the effect is miniscule compared to sealing the attic and insulating at the roof deck.

    Even with a vented attic and only 6" of cellulose on the attic floor (hopefully you have room for more), if the ducts are also insulated the benefit of the r.b. is quite small, and you would likely get more benefit applying the $300 toward exterior operable shades on the west facing windows.

    When it's time to re-roof, using a CRRC rated "cool roof" shingle appropriate for your roof pitch makes sense.

    Shading the roof with roofop solar panels will also reduce your cooling load.

  6. BlakeFL | | #6

    I plan on getting some spray foam quotes to create a conditioned space but I feel like the cost is going to outweigh the benefit. I have 2x4 trusses that are 24" on center and the roof is only 4/12 slope. It is not very comfortable up there and getting to certain parts is very challenging. We also have a vaulted area that I can't believe is really accessible to spray foam into. The quotes to replace the ducts have been around $3500 and that is using ductboard and flex ducts so I'm probably going to pay more if I want some metal so that it will last longer. That combined with spray foam is probably going to be too much. I'm planning on doing the air sealing and possibly the radiant barrier myself unless one of these companies gives me a good deal for doing everything at one time. I have a company coming out in two weeks so we'll see what they quote me.

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