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Advantages for Builders to Smoke their Ducts
   
   
There are several key factors of why you, as a builder, would want to smoke and seal your ducts at rough-in stage:

Sets you above your competition with a better quality installation.  Florida Builders who smoke and seal their ducts are listed with logo and link to their website.  Builders also receive certificate that this test has been performed and verification of sealing by a 3rd party, State certified Duct Tester/Energy Rater.

Less call backs and better comfort and operating costs for your clients.

You MAY be able to reduce the sizing of your AC system, depending on what "Fluff factor" was built into the load calculation to account for leakage.

Cheapest, one time insurance policy that the duct system will perform optimally.

Cost is far less to remediate immediately at rough-in than after closing.

Can be used as a complement to the multitudes of demand side and energy efficiency programs that use duct leakage as a factor.

Can be used as a substitute for other demand side and energy efficiency programs (which are sometimes over-lapping, convoluted and confusing) that only measure leakage instead of proactively addressing failures.

You should be expecting a leak free system to be installed and have reasonable expectations that this is occurring. Cost of smoke testing can be included as a quality control requirement in AC contractors installation agreement with the builder.

Subcontractors perform better and devote their more experienced, higher quality crews if they know that their work will be thoroughly inspected and they will be required to fix failures.
   
   


   
   
Advantages for AC Contractors that Smoke their Systems

The AC contractor, whether fairly or not, is held most responsible for the success or failure for most energy efficiency programs.

The reason is fairly simple: duct leakage is a mystery and unknown as a factor in most every program.

We can immediately assign numbers for the type of windows, insulation levels, HVAC equipment ratings, etc., but when it comes time for "Pass" or "Fail", it all boils down to a manometer reading that measures duct leakage.

Let us all pray that it is low, because all of the other measures were bought at the minimal level expecting all ductwork to be super tight. This is the point that everyone gets in trouble because:

1. The AC contractor believes that the installation is tight because he has not been told otherwise and can't see leakage.

2. The Energy Rater believes that merely taking a measurement at the end of construction and entering the result in a program will magically transform the ductwork into a non-leaking duct system.

3. The Builder will be angry at both AC Contractor and Energy Rater above if the expected "Feel Good" result is not achieved.
There are several key factors of why you as an AC Contractor would want to smoke and seal your ducts at rough-in stage:

Sets you above your competition with a better quality installation. May advertise the smoking and sealing as a value-added service. We will post participating contractors logo and link on our web site to denote the extra quality control method undertaken by your company.

Less call backs and better comfort and operating costs for your clients.

Continuous training tool for your installers to identify failures for future improvement.

Cheapest, one time insurance policy that the duct system will perform nominally.

Remediation of failures does not require crawling through 130 degree attics, in poor visibility with limited accessibility.

Smoking and sealing is reasonable, understandable and achievable for all concerned parties.

Assists you to achieve any minimum duct leakage requirements obligated to the Builder through any contractual stipulations.
   
     
 

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