Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pockets of resistance

Our home was built in the 1950s and it has an interesting history. The builder of the house was a secret service agent during that era and he raised his family here. He designed the home and built most of it home himself as I understand it. The second owner was a Branch Davidian and we purchased the property from he and his wife in 1995. To our real estate agent's chagrin, Mrs. "Davidian" was home at time of our showing and I will never forget the lecture she gave us about the evils of automatic dishwashers. In truth, I believe story was to cover up the fact that the washer was broken and they were too cheap to fix it. As the third owner, I keep hoping that I will find a hidden cache of weapons or a treasure trove of classified documents on who really was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Indeed, I have discovered some mundane secrets such as the original house blueprints, a box full of brass drawer handles, and very inefficient air duct work system for the furnace.

This fall, I have been working to improve the air flow and improve our homes comfort for the coming winter. Our bedroom has always had a pocket of warm air in one part of our room. As I delved to the root cause, I inspected the warm air register. The louvres could be opened to perpendicular but they pointed to the left. Two feet from this register is the wall and our northern exposure window. It hit me like a bolt of lightning-the warm air was going either straight up or to the left to the wall and window! No wonder there was always a pocket of air in that little alcove. This problem had been going on for years and I had never really looked closely to see if this could be improved. The lesson I learned was don't simply accept sub-optimized systems but rather to learn and understand...learn by doing!


The improvement to this problem was very simple. After taking apart the register, I rotated the metal assembly 180 degrees and now the louvres point to the right and the air moves to the center of the room. It was a five minute improvement that cost nothing and I wish I had examined this part of our HVAC system long ago.


Yeah, they could use a good cleaning! Take the kaizeneer challenge: Examine something at your home that is not optimized and see if you can improve it.

What have you improved today?

Dan Lafever, Kaizeneer

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