Brian Baker Custom Vac Limited – A Canadian Perspective on IEQ, HVAC & The Man in the Field

Air Date: 1-24-2014 | Episode: 312

Brian Baker is owner of Custom Vac Limited of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Mr. Baker has been in the HVAC and IAQ industry for almost 40 years and is a huge education advocate…

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Brian Baker is owner of Custom Vac Limited of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Mr. Baker has been in the HVAC and IAQ industry for almost 40 years and is a huge education advocate. His list of training and certifications is extensive as is his hands on experience in this industry. We got to know Brian through his passion for IAQ Radio and realized he has something special to offer our listeners. Knowledge of HVAC is vital to evaluating IAQ issues and very few have Mr. Baker’s combination of experience and education. We want to know what his real world experience has taught him about the state of IAQ in Canada, how it compares to the US, what works and what doesn’t and much more. Brian taught HVACR related courses for the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) Winnipeg Chapter. In 2009 he opened Westech Energy Training Center where he currently teaches 5th Class Power Engineering, Preparation for Residential HVACR, Refrigerant Handling Certification, and manages the education/training for RSES Winnipeg Chapter via an on-line Internet delivery platform.

Z-Man’s Blog:

Dropping The Puckwith the HVAC Canuck

D. Brian Baker, CMS from Manitoba, Canada is a second generation HVACR contractor with over 40 years of hands-on field experience. Brian got out of the rate race of turning dollars doing large commercial HVACR work and right sized his business from 25 employees down to 6. In addition to HVACR contracting, Brian is also an HVACR vocational trade instructor who has admirable stats for preparing students for Provincial licensing exams.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

· Roofs on new homes have too many angles to manage water effectively.

· Over ventilation can be a problem in large homes with 1 or 2 occupants.

· There are challenges when drilling holes in old housing stock to retrofit HVAC systems.

· Brian’s take on the Canadian slogan of “build tight and ventilate right” is “ventilate right and build right”.

· Manitoba is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Introducing and raising the temperature of dry winter air sucks moisture out of the air and may result in low RHs of 4%-6%.

· The electric utility provider Manitoba Hydro has for many years been actively involved in improving energy efficiency. The Manitoba Hydro building showcases multiple high-tech energy efficiency management systems.

· New buildings in Manitoba are following LEED.

· All new homes in Manitoba must have HRVs (heat recovery ventilators)

· Adding high efficiency furnace, doors and windows to older home can cause problems.

· We should ventilate for people and ventilate for the integrity of the building.

· People often don’t respect the building envelope. (Small penetrations may have a big impact).

· It’s negligence when we don’t educate, inform or disclose info to clients.

· Never apologize for telling the truth.

· Does the homeowner really want to take ownership of the knowledge and information?

· ASHRAE standards are always universally valid throughout north America, Canada has F-326 and National Building Code.

· Contractors continue to accept responsibility for perform ventilation system designs, duct system design, heat loss calculations as a no charge value added service.

· “BTUs must go where needed.”

· A 20% improvement in sealing duct joints and connections provides a sensible improvement in comfort.

· Rather than following manufacturer’s minimum requirements, contractors should point out what should be done on a regular basis over and above minimum requirements.

· Many HVAC contractors are driven by selling new systems rather than properly servicing and maintaining existing systems. Many HVAC contractors are shortsighted and dismiss the value of scheduling routine maintenance appointments.

· When queried about the durability of new technology. Older equipment was sturdily constructed, heavy and very forgiving. Today’s precision equipment is as well built as older equipment and is smaller and lighter. Precision equipment may lose 50% of life after 7 years.

· Consumers are often confused by advertising offering, “furnace check”, “safety check & “cleaning”. A proper residential HVAC service and cleaning takes a trained tech between 1.5-2.5 hours and includes: inspection of components and supply/return ducts, cleaning of blower and secondary heat exchanger, cooling coils, analysis for heat rise and combustion efficiency.

· Recommends raising the cooling coil at least 8” over furnace, preferably as high in plenum as possible. Install an inspection door so that consumer can see the coil.

· Cautions that care must be taken not to obstruct HVAC system during remodeling/renovation.

· Opines that UV lights have a place. There is a science to UV lights and they may be sold for wrong applications.

· Homeowner tip: Installation of a Water and Gas Safety Valve can prevent water losses from failed water heaters.

Today’s Music: “O’ Canada” One man Choir by Julien Neel

Z-Man signing off