About two years ago I moved into a 10 year old town house in Toms River. It was May when I first moved in, and I knew there was something seriously wrong a couple weeks later when the summer heat came and I turned on the AC. There was no AC making it upstairs, none at all! The vents felt cold, but no cold air was blowing out of the vents. It was very cold downstairs but nothing was making it upstairs. If it was 70 degrees downstairs, it was 84 degrees upstairs. I also noticed my downstairs closet was getting air conditioned when there was no vent there, and some of my downstairs walls felt very cold. There were other oddities, like the electrical outlets in my downstairs laundry room had cold air coming out of them.
I had to get this fixed. I called a well established local HVAC business and had them come over and give me an estimate. They quickly determined that I needed a two zone air conditioning system because that was the only way I’d get any AC upstairs. When I pointed out the cold closet, electrical outlet and other anomalies, they just shrugged their shoulders and told me “air flow is weird”. They gave me an estimate of $18,000 to have the two zone AC installed.
I called another local HVAC for another estimate. They suggested a bigger, better AC unit, a stronger blower, and an air exchanger installed in the ceiling of my stairway. They said the air exchanger would not look very nice, would be loud, but would do the job of helping move the cool air upstairs. I also pointed out the anomalies and again, they just shrugged their shoulders and explained that air flow is difficult to predict and once they did their job those anomalies would “probably “go away. I didn’t bother to get an estimate because I didn’t like their proposed solution.
I suffered through the first summer constantly arranging fans and sleeping downstairs in my living room. My condo association didn’t allow any window units installed, so I was stuck. It was very depressing. I was not enjoying my new home at all.
The next summer I was going to be prepared! Over the winter months I did research and found info about companies that do air flow studies and home energy audits. I saw a video on the internet showing people using meters, infrared cameras, and other equipment to find solutions. This is what I needed! I continued my research and along the way found the NJ clean energy website (http://www.njcleanenergy.com). They described exactly what I was looking for to fix my problem. The website included a list of certified contractors, so I began to make phone calls. The first couple of certified contractors I called didn’t seem to have the meters and cameras that I learned through my research would be necessary for the audit, though they were quite anxious to come over to give me an estimate anyway! I continued my phone calls. The next contractor said they had special measuring devices, and no special cameras were needed. When I asked for the cost to do the audit they wouldn’t provide an estimate and instead I was told that it would be included in the overall cost of the work they would do. They told me they didn’t do the “test” until after the work was done. I asked, “How do they know what needs to be fixed if they don’t do the audit first?” I was told that they were professionals and had many years of experience and they would just know what to do to fix my problem. I didn’t agree. I was getting discouraged and thought I’d try just one more contractor.
I then called another contractor from the list, DH Services Group in Lake Como. I asked about their home energy audit and the very knowledgeable woman who answered the phone eagerly explained how they do the audit. They had meters, cameras and they would perform a test before any work was done and analyze all the results to find a solution to my problem. This is exactly what I needed! The cost of the audit was very reasonable so I made an appointment. They sent over two workers who explained everything to me and most important, they listened to me! When they observed no A/C upstairs and after I showed them all the problems on the first floor, the cold closet, the cold walls, the cold air coming out of the electric outlets – they didn’t shrug their shoulders, they went to work! They were eager to find out the cause of the problem. They used the infrared camera and meters and found a large cold area on my ceiling. I was shown the image on the camera and saw the big blue area on my ceiling. They went around the rest of the house, inside and outside, did more tests, found more problems, but came back to the intriguing big blue spot on my ceiling downstairs. After some deductive reasoning, more camera work and meter work, the DH Services workers narrowed the big blue spot down to a smaller specific area where they wanted to cut into the dry wall on the ceiling and take a look. Without hesitation, I let them cut into the drywall. They removed a small piece of the dry wall, maybe 5” x 10” and took a look and discovered the primary cause of my problem: there was dead ended duct work that wasn’t capped off! The AC was just flowing into my downstairs ceiling and into the walls downstairs.
The hole they cut into the ceiling was in the exact correct location, so without having to do anymore cutting into my drywall, they were able to temporarily cover the open duct work with some tape and it was like a miracle!! I now had AC upstairs! I think I may have cried and I know I professed my sudden love for these two workers! They finished up their tests and data collection. They explained there were more leaks and other areas of concern that would be explained in the final report.
A few days later I met with the owner of DH, Dave. He spent quite a bit of time going over the audit results and his recommendations. He also explained about the special programs, including rebates offered by NJ Clean Energy. He presented the various options and his recommendations. There were other “blue spots” indicating more problems, and the test that was done also indicated poorly insulated areas throughout my townhouse. I knew I wanted my entire town house sealed-up and well insulated. Dave was very honest and told me he thought that I could probably get a couple more years out of my AC unit, furnace, and hot water heater so he recommended that I go with the insulation work for now and suggested I think about doing the rest of the work either when the equipment fails or sometime in the near future.
But because this problem existed for the past 10 years, (before I ever moved in) I figured it must have added to the wear and tear of those units, making them inefficient and unreliable. Plus I just couldn’t pass up the excellent rebates and offers available at that time that Dave told me about. Per my request, Dave provided a new proposal including everything, the insulation work, new A/C, furnace, and water heater. He provided the new proposal and he even figured out my monthly payment along with the estimated energy cost savings. He showed me that even with paying back the loan, I would still be paying less per month. So with all the great rebates and special finance offered by NJNG at the time, the price was right, so work began a week later.
They were all very professional. During the install, they were very neat and precise. They properly covered up that open duct work and did all the other repairs and improvements. They accomplished a lot of work each day and showed up every day. These guys did great! If I had any questions or concerns, I got an immediate response. They were professional, on time, courteous, personable, and best of all they were proud of their work. They did things the right way, no corners cut. Was this the twilight zone or just the best contractors I’ve ever hired?
It all worked out just like Dave said – started and completed as he told me, no extra costs, everything worked out just like he said. They did everything right. And yes, my energy bills are much less. And just as Dave said, even with my monthly loan payments, I am still paying less per month! I love my new A/C, furnace, and water heater – they all work great!
My house is so much cozier. I actually breathe better and feel better. The heat during the winter was much better too. Another bonus, less bugs! This past spring would have normally brought on a significant amount of bugs including ants, spiders, centipedes, etc. I had 2 spiders, that’s it. No ants, nothing else. Now that summer is here, my A/C is in full use and my upstairs is still like a dream. It is nice and cool upstairs, the A/C is coming out full force out of the vents up there! It is wonderful. I certainly did not need the overpriced two zone A/C or the stupid air exchanger those other contractors wanted to install!
It’s hard to put into words, but my house just feels so much better! It feels healthier and more in balance. I am so happy that I went with DH Services. I don’t believe anyone else would have ever figured out that problem with the open duct work! Everything works great, I now love living in my townhouse! Thanks to all the great employees of DH Services! No twilight zone, these are the best contractors I’ve ever hired. I obviously highly recommend them!
Teri K. of Toms River, NJ
Monday, July 16th