If you are embarking on a home improvement project, such as painting a room, doing drywall repairs, or sanding/refinishing wood floors, steps must be taken to protect the ductwork from paint, sand/dust, flumes, tools, and damage. Remove the vent registers prior to beginning work. Then, cover the duct completely with a barrier material that can be taped all around (see photo). A large plastic garbage bag also works very nicely. If there is danger of someone walking or positioning a ladder or tools near a duct that is covered in this fashion and thus falling in and damaging the duct put the vent grille back on top of the register. If you have the high-end designer vents (brass, etc.), consider getting a couple of the cheap vent grilles to use temporarily during your home improvement project, so your "good" vent grilles won't inadvertently be damaged. The last thing you want is someone putting a foot through the duct or tools falling in and tearing a hole in the duct!
Why it's so important
Tears in the ductwork or any holes require immediate attention. They will cause your HVAC system not to function properly, and your system will not cool or heat very well. The conditioned air (the air you paid to heat and cool) will be leaking out and mixing with unconditioned air, which is then blown back through your house. Not only is there a lot of lost energy - costing you extra money but your HVAC system will be over-worked and wear out quicker. You may also develop a pest problem from crawling insects, rodents, or reptiles which can come through the holes in the ducts into your home. Over time, you may also develop an odor and moisture problem. If you are experiencing any of these issues, a hole in your ductwork may be your culprit!
If you are building a new home or an addition, make sure the contractor seals all the ductwork before the drywall is installed. It is almost impossible to clean drywall dust out of ducts, so the best solution is to keep them protected from sources like this from the outset. For more information on duct cleaning, see our earlier post.
Tim Thomas, VP Sales & Marketing, Culer, explains how a new space cooler works and saves energy.
One of the oldest ways of conditioning air is evaporative cooling, which cools air through the evaporation of water, rather than through the use of compressors and refrigerants. Evaporative cooling is how cars of the early 1950's were air-conditioned (see a previous post here). A Nashville-based company called Culer has developed a new space cooler using a patented nozzle that combines water and air under low pressure to form extremely small particles of water. When exposed to air, these water particles instantly evaporate and cool the surrounding air. We interviewed Tim Thomas, VP of Sales & Marketing at Culer, to learn more. Here's how he explains how their space cooler works.
It takes a lot of energy to go from a liquid to a gas. If you can cause evaporation, you are going to be very efficient at creating a cooling effect. Air conditioners have to have a compressor to evaporate and then condense a refrigerant, so you are exchanging heat in a not very efficient manner. Because it's a closed system it takes a lot of energy. We use a low pressure pump to run a small fan inside. Then, by using very fine water particles in a concentrated air stream, we are able make evaporation happen immediately. The magic happens in the nozzles. Our nozzles are what I call hydro-pneumatic: they introduce both water and air in the same nozzle. Based on the geometry we call flow blurring, atomization occurs inside the nozzle, and when water exits, it's already atomized. It doesn't just rely on the pressure behind it.
How can a Culer be used in a home to save energy? The Culer AC home series as a complementary product to an existing whole house HVAC system. Instead of setting your air conditioner at 78 degrees you could raise it to 80-82 degrees. Then place the AC series product in the room you are occupying, to cool that specific area or zone that you are in, thereby saving money because you're able to run your whole house system at a higher temperature.
There are several models of Culer products, each made for indoor or outdoor areas of different sizes. Our patented nozzles make our technology unique, and it is completely scalable. We can make products for the home all the way up to our professional unit, which includes six larger nozzles as well as a 30-inch fan that can handle up to 3,000 square feet and can be used in both indoor and outdoor locations. The features of the product are very simple. There is an on-off button and a control for a 3-speed fan. The cooling effect activates the low pressure pump; this pressurizes the water which then goes up to the nozzle. The dial in the middle allows you to fine tune the amount of water you introduce into the air stream. For a very hot, dry environment you would set the dial to use more water, and for more humid areas you use less. The port can be positioned up or down by 15 degrees, and rotated horizontally up to 180 degrees. To activate the unit, all you need to do is put one gallon of water in it. For a single-port device, one gallon of water will last around 12 hours. Pour one gallon of water into the fill port. Put the cap back on and make sure it is sealed tightly as that tank will get pressurized. It uses 12-volt DC power, which is compatible with any vehicle - whether it's a boat, an RV, or a standard automobile or truck - and you can simply plug it into that vehicle's system. The AC 200 has 2 ports and two atomizing nozzles that can be operated in independent directions, and costs only about 12-cents per day to operate.