Category Archives: zone control

New Building Codes for Air tightness, Ventilation, and Moisture Control- Article brought to us by IE3 Business Intelligence for Professional Contractors

New Building Codes for Air tightness, Ventilation, and Moisture Control


New residential energy efficiency building codes are trying to tackle the challenge of how the home’s flow of energy, heat, air, and moisture will affect the indoor environment, including attics and crawlspaces. These codes are requiring homes to meet specific air tightness and indoor air quality standards, both of which are driving the need for dedicated dehumidification and mechanical ventilation.

Click here to create a do-it-yourself classified right in this article. Reach everyone reading this post!

The code item which addresses the tightness of the building sets ACH 50 standards based on location. Climate Zones 1 and 2 must achieve ≤5 ach50, and in Zones 3 – 8 ≤3 ach50. What does this mean? According to Kimberly Llewellyn, consultant at Austin based building science firm, Positive Energy, an ACH50 number is a standardized score which describes how tight a home is. ACH stands for Air Changes per Hour, which is the number of times in an hour that the volume of air in a house is replaced at the test pressure 50 Pascals, which is about equivalent to the conditions created by a 20 mph wind. The lower the score, the tighter the building, which means less “accidental air” gets in by uncontrolled means of infiltration or exfiltration (See Climate zone map above).

Build it Tight. Ventilate Right.

Reducing the amount of air that leaks in and out of the home through insulation, air sealing, and new windows and doors are some of the first steps when it comes to cutting heating and cooling costs. Such energy saving strategies can result in unintended consequences. If effective mechanical ventilation and moisture control methods are not implemented, the result could lead to uncomfortable living conditions, homeowner health issues, and in extreme cases, significant structural damage.

This is why if you live in an area that has adopted the 2012 IECC code (and there will be 20 states that have by the end of 2015), you must now also make sure that the home has a whole-house mechanical ventilation system to bring in the right amount of fresh filtered air to dilute indoor pollutants, and replenish oxygen.

R403.5 Mechanical ventilation (Mandatory).

The building should be provided with ventilation that meets the requirements of the International Residential Code, or International Mechanical Code, as applicable, or with other approved means of ventilation. Air intakes and exhausts should have automatic or gravity dampers that close when the ventilation system is not operating.

It is also important to know that even if your residential building code currently does not mandate a required amount of mechanical fresh air, there are recommended standards that help ensure a home’s occupants are getting the fresh air needed. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has developed the standard 62.2: The Standards for Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality.

This standard is used to calculate the MINIMUM ventilation requirement using ASHRAE 62.2-2013.

ASHRAE Airflow in CFM = [House Area in Sq. Ft. x 0.03] + [(Number of Bedrooms +1) x 7.5]


2500 sq. ft. house with 3 bedrooms, 4 occupants = [2500 X 0.03] + [(3+1) X 7.5] = 105 CFM

The ASHRAE 62.2 2010 standard would have required 55 cfm of fresh air for the same exact house. This is due to the assumption that a leaky house had some natural ventilation that helped dilute pollutants.

As you can see, our houses are getting tighter, and as a result we need to bring in more fresh air. Bringing in filtered fresh air from a known location into a tightly air-sealed home to dilute indoor air contaminants is absolutely necessary. Depending on what region you live in, you will also need to think about how to remove the humidity that you are bringing into the home. Dedicated dehumidification will almost certainly be necessary to maintain <50%RH in a house that meets these new building codes in green grass climates (areas where dew points reach above 60 degrees F).


Traditional practice left it up to the A/C system to remove moisture in an attempt to keep it at an acceptable level. However, tightening houses limits the air conditioner running time, and oversized cooling systems can result in poor dehumidification. Also, the energy efficient, higher SEER A/C units do not remove as much moisture as the older, lower SEER systems. Keep in mind that an A/C system is only removing moisture when it is running. The shoulder seasons tend to be when dew points are highest, and temperatures are mild, resulting in high interior humidity levels with little to no moisture removal.

According to building science experts, in humid climates it is best to use a supply ventilation system to provide a slight positive pressure on the home in order to avoid the wet outside air being sucked into the home through the walls. During certain parts of the year (shoulder seasons), relative humidity will need to be controlled with a dehumidifier or the A/C system.

Indiana Soup- Story Courtesy of IE3 Business Intelligence for Professional Contractors

in: Building Performance, Residential Buildings

Image-DewPt-MapI thought I knew all about this topic, but I did not really get a grip on this until a few years ago while preparing to teach the subject. If you’re looking for the ultimate motivator for learning, I highly recommend getting hired to train a room full of experienced contractors so you can stand in front of them and preach, “This is how it is!”

The topic (this time), is moisture. Recall in the past we knew a home had a moisture load (or latent heat load) that needed to be managed, but we also knew our cold AC coil did a remarkable job of sucking the water out of the air. Even if you did not understand the psychrometric chart or read the AC manufacturer’s latent capacity specs, you still learned all about the great moisture removal abilities of an air conditioner the first time you forgot to hook up the condensate pipe. What a mess!

So what have I learned recently that makes me think I deserve your attention for the next few minutes? I now understand the potential water volume in air, and I appreciate the high levels of moisture we have in the Midwest for a large portion of the year.

Don’t stop reading because you have already read about moisture control. You are right, it is a topic frequently talked about today. However, I do not think many in our business are following through and helping the customer understand. It is time for all of us to sign up for a class on moisture. We can no longer ignore our professional responsibility to understand and control the humidity in our customer’s home.

Are you afraid of the psychrometric chart? Well, I am. Maybe not so much afraid as overwhelmed by how much information it reveals. Fortunately, you do not need to know it all. In fact, I do not even “work the chart” in my short class, but let’s remind ourselves on a few of the basics:

  • In the summer, in humid climates, we would like to comfort our homes to about 55% Relative Humidity. A dryer 50% RH is even better.
  • Outside air is beginning to feel uncomfortably humid at a dew point temperature of 60 degrees.
  • Outside air at 60 degree dew point brought inside an air conditioned home at 75 degrees will result in 60% RH. Too high.
  • Outside air at 65 degree dew point brought inside an air conditioned home at 75 degrees will result in 70% RH. Much too high. Bad things can start to happen, depending on how much of this moist air you allow inside.
  • Outside air at 70 degree dew point? Throw me a life jacket and snorkel!

So what? The air conditioner runs and we’re all fine, right? Two things are different now, compared to the past:

  1. Home Performance measures for existing homes (or building energy efficient new homes) helps our homes become more energy efficient, but now the AC runs less.
  2. Sometimes we deliberately suck in outside air that is above 60 degree dew point.

Either of these two actions on their own can cause moisture issues. Having both could be double trouble. Sometimes these measures simply affect the homeowner’s comfort. Sometimes there is so much moisture we cause health and structural problems. Who’s responsible? You. You are the expert. You must understand moisture.

What do you need to do?

The first step is to understand dew point and track it! This is an easy measuring stick for how much water is in the air, and you need to follow it. It’s on your weather app on your phone. Look at this number as frequently as you check the radar. Appreciate that some climates are very humid.

The summer so far in Indiana has been terrible. Wanna see it? Go to This is my favorite site to view historical Dew Point. The link below is for my city in Indiana, but you can change it to your city. This is a great resource when you learn to navigate through all the adjustments.


Note the dew point levels during the week I wrote this article. Those are serious moisture levels! Now notice the temperatures (Dry bulb) for this period. Not too hot, and especially if your home is energy efficient like mine, then there is not too much load on the AC.

My geothermal heat pump did not run too much that week, and not nearly enough for adequate moisture removal, but I was very comfortable thanks to my whole house dehumidifier. Fortunately, I did not let much of that Indiana soup into my home, other than a few, normal exhaust fan run times, clothes dryer exhaust, and normal door traffic. I condition to a very comfortable 76 degrees and 45% RH. Half my home is over a basement and the other over a sealed crawl space, and both are dry and odor free.

This is not the way it was in the past. I love the outdoors and in the past I kept my home open as much as possible. Odors grew downstairs, and spent portable dehumidifiers piled up in the basement.

Not so anymore! Once I condition my home in terms of temperature, humidity, and even pollens and dust, then I like to keep it that way. Sure, I still keep a lookout for “fresh” air and bring it in when it is available, but for some stretches of time in the Midwest, “fresh” is rare and I do not intentionally allow the Indiana soup to get into my home.

What about mandatory residential ventilation? (Oops, will you look at that. We are almost out of room for this article and we will need to cut it short.) Briefly, until we have more time, yes fresh air makes sense; lots of it for some situations, much less for others. But with what I know about moisture, I think we are blindly rushing into problems with indiscriminate ventilation. Ventilation timing and moisture knowledge is critical. In many areas, ventilation strategies must include a dehumidifier. And by the way: An ERV is not a Dehumidifier. (Related article

Incidentally, I could go for a good dose of fresh air right now. Let’s see, checking the dew point map, I wonder what size duct I might need to bring in 100 cfm of fresh air from Ely, Minnesota to Indianapolis?

Jackson Systems Offers Solution for “Zoning the Impossible”

Zoning is becoming more and more popular in the residential and commercial markets. In residential applications, accessing duct work can present a challenge in existing construction. When bonus rooms and room additions are considered, there may not be duct work running to these areas.

The Motorized Zone Register (MZR™) from Jackson Systems is a low-cost, rugged, metal, motorized zone register designed to work with most forced air zone control systems. It can also be used as a stand-alone register with a wall-mounted thermostat to eliminate over-heating and over-cooling in bonus rooms, sun rooms, guest rooms and basements.

This easy-to-install zone register allows zoning to be installed in almost all residential applications. It is designed to fit most register boots and comes in many sizes, most in both tan and white. There is also a polymer version available for side wall installations.
The MZR is a standard register with a 24VAC spring open/power close actuator. It uses standard gauge thermostat wire (plenum-rated wire may be required if running through duct work.)

The MZR can be wired to a stand-alone thermostat for control of the register in single zone applications, or it can be wired to a zone panel and for multiple zone applications. Up to 6 Motorized Zone Dampers can be connected to a single zone.

The MZR is another innovative solution from Jackson Systems designed to make zoning easier and more profitable for HVAC contractors. For more information, visit or call is at 888.652.9663.

Selling Comfort Through Controls

Selling zoning systems and smart thermostats is easier than you might think. Homeowners want to be comfortable and save energy. Zoning systems and smart thermostats provide both of these benefits. And just by observing and asking a few simple questions, you can easily sell comfort through controls.

When speaking with homeowners, analogies to other familiar home appliances and features can help them understand how it works. Explaining to consumers the two zones of a refrigerator, one for fresh food and one for frozen food can be helpful. Or ask them if it would make sense to have only one light switch that turns all of the lights in the house on or off. That is essentially what a single thermostat does with the HVAC equipment. One switch heats or cools the entire home.

When you are in the home, look for finished basements or room additions. These can be areas of comfort problems. Ask your customers if they are interested in lowering their utility bills. Independent tests have shown that zoning systems with programmable thermostats can save up to 30% or more on heating and cooling bills. And who is going to say no saving money?

Another revenue stream for your business is smart thermostats. According to the research firm Nielsen, the United States smartphone market is now 55% penetrated. Consumers are using their phones to control alarm systems and entry to their homes. They are viewing their favorite TV programs and movies. Some apps even allow control of television sets. And the list goes on. So much of our world is connected and consumers are hungry for more. So why not control their comfort from their smart device?

As technology continues to get more sophisticated in the smart device market, it is also happening in the HVAC controls market. There are many thermostats on the market that allow control through any smartphone, tablet or computer and most offer free apps to make this control even easier. And consumers are demanding more. In today’s market, there are so many options for smart thermostats. From basic Wi-Fi controlled thermostats that require no additional equipment to more sophisticated, feature-rich models that provide more control of IAQ equipment, there is an option available for nearly any budget and application.

Offering customers better comfort through HVAC controls is a smart business decision, but it is also a great service to your customers. Sometimes just asking a few simple questions can benefit you and your customers. Happy selling!

12 Technical Rules of Thumb for Installing Zoning

1. In most cases, it will not be necessary to modify the duct sizing when installing a zoning system.
2. It is good practice to size the smallest zone to handle approximately 25% of the system CFM.
3. Never undersize ductwork.
4. Upsizing registers in the smallest zone to the next larger size should be considered.
5. You can double the rated CFM of a register before it starts to get noisy.
6. Two-stage equipment is always a better choice.
7. It is always better to slightly undersize the HVAC equipment than to oversize it.
8. Never locate a thermostat in a hallway.
9. Dampers should be installed at least 2 feet away from the plenum, when possible.
10. Always use a separate 24 volt transformer to power the zone panel. Do not use the equipment transformer.
11. Always tag wires, especially from dampers and thermostats.
12. Some basements may require setting the zone thermostat in the auto mode during the cooling season due to cold walls, uninsulated ductwork or leaking ductwork.

For more information on our zoning products, visit

12 Technical Rules of Thumb for Installing Zoning

1. In most cases, it will not be necessary to modify duct sizing when installing a zoning system.
2. It is a good practice to size the smallest zone to handle approximately 25% of the system CFM.
3. Never undersize the ductwork.
4. Upsizing registers in the smallest zone to the next larger size should be considered.
5. You can double the rated CFM of a register before it starts to become noisy.
6. Multi-stage equipment is always a better choice with a zoning system.
7. It is always better to slightly undersize the HVAC equipment than to oversize it.
8. Never locate a thermostat in a hallway.
9. Dampers should be installed at least 2 feet away from the plenum when possible.
10. Always use a separate 24 volt transformer to power the zone panel. Do not use the equipment transformer.
11. Always tag all wires, especially from dampers and thermostats.
12. Some basements may require setting the zone thermostat in the auto mode during the cooling season for the following reasons: basement walls are cold as a result of being underground, uninsulated ductwork located in the basement acts as a cooling radiator, ductwork leaking air, cold air falls.

For questions about zoning or for a quote on a zoning system, call us at 888.652.9663.

Zoning Selling Tips

zoning floor plan
1. Look for finished basements, add-on rooms or other additions where comfort may be a problem
2. Ask homeowners if there are particular areas in the home that are too hot or too cold.
3. If the homeowner is seeking a second system for their home, zoning may be a more cost effective option.
4. To help customers understand zoning, explain how their refrigerator has two separate zones, one for fresh foods and one for frozen foods.
5. Challenge homeowners to imagine a home with only one light switch that can only turn the lights on or off for the entire house. With a single-thermostat forced air system, they have to condition all of the air to condition any given space. Just like having one light switch to control all of the lights in the house.
Look for future posts on technical tips for installing zoning.

New E-Commerce Site Makes Ordering Easier

E-commerce ShotWe recently updated the look and navigation of our Web site to make it easier to find the great products you are searching for. A large part of this upgrade was improvements to our online ordering system. The new E-commerce tool is easier to use and contains more information about your account. With the new site, past orders can be viewed, quotes can be viewed and changed to orders and you can upload a CSV file of common or repetitive orders. These are just a few of the new features of the site. To help you better take advantage of the new E-commerce offerings, we have created a guide to navigating the site. We hope you find the changes useful and using the site a more enjoyable experience. Download the E-commerce User Guide

Introducing Our Newest Product Line – BACnet® Thermostats

The JS Series BACnet thermostat combines the power of a space-mounted equipment controller with the convenience of built-in temperature and humidity. The thermostats include a wide range of factory supplied programs for the following applications:

  • Two-pipe and four-pipe fan coil units
  • Roof top units
  • Heat pump units
  • Packaged and split unitary systems
  • appstat

    No special programming, software applications or setup tools are required to configure and commission a JS Series BACnet thermostat. All options can be set by using only the five front panel buttons and the easy-to-read menus in the full-color display.

    The attractive two-piece design is ideal for new installations or upgrades of older, less efficient thermostats. All models are native BACnet, Application Specific Thermostats ready to connect to a BACnet MS/TP network. Device instance, MAC address and baud rate are set from the password protected front controls. All models feature a hardware clock and BACnet schedule that can be setup from the front panel or as standard BACnet objects and properties.

    For more information, call us at 888.652.9663.

Performance Contracting

Tom Jackson visits with a contractor at the ACCA Building Performance Forum sponsored by "The News"

Tom Jackson visits with a contractor at the ACCA Building Performance Forum sponsored by “The News”

Energy savings is top-of-mind as we move into what could be a very harsh winter in some parts of the United States. This paired with the growing consumer demand for “green” products is driving many HVAC contractors to performance-based contracting. By viewing the house as a system, these contractors open up a new revenue stream while also doing their customers a great service. As energy costs continue to increase and the demand for “greener” products grows, performance-based contracting is sure to follow.

Here is a link to a great story in “The News”, explaining some strategies for getting into performance-based contracting and resources available to contractors. ACCA Examines Performance-Based Contracting

Redesigned Prestige® Thermostats Available Now in 4 Color Options

New HW ThermostatsThe newly redesigned Prestige thermostats from Honeywell are here! The sleek new design offers a smaller profile, 4 high-gloss frame color options (Black/Black, White/Gray, White/White, Silver/Gray) and a customizable high-definition display with nearly limitless color options for the design conscious customer.

The Prestige thermostat still provides the same easy remote management and self-monitoring diagnostics with email alerts and is perfect for residential or commercial applications. Programming is simplified with an on screen “wizard”. The thermostat asks a few questions then self programs. Honeywell’s Total Connect Comfort service lets customers manage their system remotely from a computer, tablet or smartphone. RedLINK wireless accessories, such as sensors and comfort remotes, help customers optimize comfort throughout their home or business. The thermostats are in stock now. To place an order to to get a quote, call us at 888.652.9663. For more information about these newly redesigned thermostats, click here Prestige Thermostat.

Product Submissions Available Online

ZoneOneSubmittalThumbnailWe pride ourselves in making it easy to use our products. Whether that’s ease of installation, great technical support or providing the tools you need at your fingertips, Jackson Systems is committed to excellent client service. To make it easier to specify our light commercial offerings, we have recently developed product specification sheets and posted these to our Web site. There are two versions for each product, PDF and Word. All of these specifications can be downloaded at These documents can also be located on each of the specific product pages within the Web site. The Word document version makes cutting and pasting the specifications into your proposal quick and easy, while the PDF versions are designed to be email friendly. Happy specifying!

“Win or Just Participate?” Courtesy of Greg McAfee

Greg McAfee HVAC Business Consultant

Greg McAfee
HVAC Business Consultant

Contrary to political correctness, Americans remain quite competitive and have a strong desire to win. It starts when our children are young, be it in Little League or any other competitive environment.

Even if we are unwilling to keep score, and even if everyone gets a trophy or a blue ribbon for participating, the real winners know who they are. In the end, somebody comes out on top.

Did you get into business to just participate or win?

Certainly, success requires a desire to climb higher, to achieve, and to come out on top. In order to win and dominate your territory, there are certain skills you must have:

Be a risk-taker.
It’s impossible to win in business without taking healthy, carefully calculated risks. For instance, ten years ago, we did what some would have considered bordering on insanity and dropped all name brands from our product line. Today, we are a successful company with our own private label, and we’ve never looked back.

Leaders must set the vision.
Once this vision is determined, drive, ambition, and commitment are needed to achieve it, and great people must be hired to help fulfill it. My goals and dreams are shared, and then I rely on others to figure out the details as to how it all works.

You must become dissatisfied with status quo.
Nothing new will happen with your business unless you are dissatisfied with how it is currently running. When you set goals, do you continue to meet and raise them, or are you satisfied with the ease of hitting them? At McAfee, we set our goals for the entire year, but we revise them monthly, and rarely do they stay the same.

Some people are happy staying in a motel and enjoying the comfort of it all, while others want to own the motel. Which one are you?

Carry On!


Greg McAfee
HVAC Business Consultant

Meet Jaymie Hunkler, Jackson Systems Account Manager

Jaymie Hunckler Meet Jaymie Hunckler, account manager with Jackson Systems. Jaymie joined Jackson Systems in March of this year. She spends her time here providing solutions to her clients and ensuring Jackson Systems is providing exceptional client service. When not juggling 10-1/2 month old twins, Jaymie is an avid DYI-er who loves music and the outdoors. Click here to see Jaymie’s introduction video: Jaymie Hunckler


5 Reasons Why Zoning Is Good for Your Bottom Line

Anyone who has ever shared their home or office space knows the great thermostat debate. We all have different ideas of what comfort means, and so does your customer. One of the best things about being in the HVAC business is providing people solutions to make their lives more comfortable. Zoning is one of the most efficient ways to achieve this.


Zoning gives your customers the ability to control the temperature in different parts of the house or business using a single unit. Every zone has its own thermostat, so the temperature can be adjusted according to the preferences of the person using the space.


Zoning isn’t just a win for comfort. It is a win for your bottom line. And you will be a hero to clients who no longer have to fight over thermostat settings.


Here are the top 5 reasons that zoning is good for your bottom line:




Zoning provides your business with another profit channel outside the day to day maintenance needs of clients. Next time you are servicing a client, especially those with larger homes or businesses, mention the benefits of zoning. You may be surprised that they did not know that zoning was an option. There is a wide margin between the cost of buying the zoning equipment and selling it to your customer. You will make a good profit and the customer will still be getting value that exceeds the price.




Installing a zoning system is relatively easy compared to installing other pieces of equipment. With less labor, the job can be completed faster than more labor intensive jobs. This means you are making more money in less time.




Zoning is a great product to offer clients during the off season. Many contracting businesses have to cut hours during periods of less extreme temperatures when demand is down. The demand for zoning does not depend on the time of year. Zoning can help keep your employees working on a regular basis year round.




Stay competitive without cutting your prices. When a consumer is considering which contractor to hire, they want to know how well the contractor understands their needs and how qualified the contractor is to complete the job. By proposing solutions such as zoning that other contractors are likely to miss, you stand out as an expert to the consumer. Even if they don’t end up buying zoning, they will likely hire you for the job.




Few people know that zoning is an option, and therefore don’t expect the level of comfort zoning provides. The benefits of zoning often exceed customer expectations. Happy customers love to spread the word to friends, neighbors and families and when they do- there is a good chance they will mention the name of the contractor that brought them the solution.



Top 25 Most FAQ: Part One

At Jackson Systems, our employees are our most valuable asset. In an effort to round up our 25 top FAQ we thought we’d pull from our in house experts and ask employees to give us the top 5 most FAQ’s with answers included. To help you get to know the wonderful talent that makes Jackson Systems run, we’re sharing their answers and introducing some of our talent.


Kristie Birch, Marketing Director

Favorite thing about working at Jackson Systems:

Her favorite thing is the opportunity for continued learning and growth. She also loves the crazy group of people she works with (good crazy, of course).

Favorite industry catch phrase:

Contractor: Have you changed the filter?

Homeowner: I didn’t know it had a filter.

FAQ #1: What are the minimum quantities for thermostat imprinting?

Twelve of one type is the minimum. Or you can get two different types of thermostats with a minimum quantity of six, which would be twelve in total.

FAQ #2: Do you have any products that will allow control of a single zone?

Yes, the Zone One™ can be used to control a single room, or by using a number of dampers, it can be used to control multiple rooms. The Zone One™ is a control damper assembly designed to solve overheating and overcooling problems. The simple wall mounted control makes it easy to adjust the temperature. The diffusers can be two-position or fully modulating and can be used in drop ceilings to provide draft free room conditioning.

FAQ #3: Do you offer a low cost alternative to an ERV for fresh air that meets the ASHRAE 62.2 standard?

Yes, The VCS meets the ASHRAE 62.2 standard. The Ventilation Control System, or VCS, is a low cost fresh air control system designed to improve residential indoor air quality. This is accomplished by introducing fresh air through an intake damper controlled by the VCS logic panel. This ventilation control system is easy to adjust and can also be wired to control an exhaust fan.

FAQ #4: I have a church that does not have set scheduling. Does Jackson System have a way for them to control their heating and cooling equipment from a remote location?

Our WEB Comfort™ Communicating Thermostat System is an excellent solution for this application. This system delivers exceptional value by enabling multiple thermostats to be wirelessly networked throughout the building or home. Each WEB Comfort™ is enabled for Internet connectivity and can be accessed from anywhere in the world via a standard Web browser. This system wirelessly connects with each thermostat through a secure ZigBee mesh network that allows each thermostat to act as a repeater within the network. The no cost Web portal provides access to all thermostats, grouping capabilities and reporting.

FAQ # 5: I have an application with five hydronic valves that we need to control open/close and there is no place to run wiring. Does Jackson Systems have a solution?

The WR-400 Wireless Relay Kit is your solution. It contains two 4-channel transceivers. The base module has three transmitting channels and one receiving channel. The satellite module has three receiving channels and one transmitting channel. Each transceiver module uses a redundant transmission protocol for fail-safe protection.


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