Inside Seer: Drying Out New or Renovated Structures
By Pete Gardner
In talking to some HVAC contractors and doing a little research, I learned a couple of things about HVAC in new homes and renovated homes. One important thing I learned is can, or should, a new furnace be used as a “construction heater” during the construction of a new home? The question comes up occasionally concerning the use of a new furnace as the source of heat to dry-out a structure under construction especially for drywall contractors.
I’m sure you have seen it, a new house being built in the winter and the general contractor wants to get the house dried-out. The house has a nice new duct system waiting to distribute warm air. So, the General Contractor asks you to install the new furnace so they can get some heat going. There is a couple of things you should probably check first.
Everyone wants to work well with the GC, so you need to do some homework. Check manufacturer’s installation instructions to verify whether or not the furnace can be used as a “construction heater.” If they don’t allow this type of use, work with your contractor to find an alternative means of heat. Check labeling on the furnace itself or the furnace manual.
Too many problems can originate from using a furnace for drying out a house during new build or for renovation. Drywall dust, insulation materials, dirt, too much moisture, etc. can all contribute to a furnace problem both for heating and for Air Conditioning.
The evaporator, or A/C cooling coil is like an automobile’s radiator and it usually sits above the furnace. Debris and water accumulate in there, and yet is the most neglected of all HVAC parts. It takes patience and time to clean out these coils. Inspecting A/C coils in gas furnaces can be tricky but again, if the blower fan is dirty, so is the coil’s inner side.
Working with these situations is also disappointing because problems like this could be avoided sometimes just by using filters to begin with keeping the inner workings clean or by adhering to the manufacturer or building code requirement. There are many sub contractors on job sites all doing what their profession demands. Coordinating and cooperating with fellow contractors or for the benefit of the building owner should be a main focus, delivering a professional completely functional final product. Looking out for the other guy in essential. So, talk it over with the GC and the other contractors on site to see what their requirements are and see if you can work it out to avoid a major problem either now or at a later date.