PTCS Program Newsletter: October 2019ReturnToTop
In this Issue:
General Program Updates & Tips
Balance Point ReminderBPUpdates 
 
The PTCS program previously allowed variances for air source heat pumps with a reported balance point between 31 and 35° F. Beginning October 1, 2019, those projects now show as "Rejected" in the registry.  More information is available here.

Watch the heat pump sizing training video here to learn about correct sizing techniques. If you have other questions about appropriate sizing assumptions, feel free to contact Bruce Manclark at  bruce.manclark@clearesult.com.
Prescriptive Duct Sealing Update BPUpdates 

Effective October 1, 2019 there are different documentation requirements for PTCS duct sealing and Prescriptive duct sealing projects. Check with the customer's utility for additional documentation requirements or alternative forms.
  
PTCS duct sealing
BPA does require entry of all PTCS duct sealing project data into the PTCS Online Registry. Data can be entered into the registry using any mobile device or computer with internet access. Alternatively, the optional PTCS duct sealing form below can be completed for online entry at a later time. An equipment or contractor invoice, and a printed Registry Installation Report, which is also on the registry, must be provided to the utility with every project, along with any additional required documents.

Prescriptive duct sealing
BPA does not require entry of any Prescriptive duct sealing project data into the PTCS Online Registry. However, utilities may still require technicians to enter data online, at their discretion. An equipment or contractor invoice must be provided to the utility with every project, along with any additional required documents.
  • If the utility does not require project data entry into the PTCS Online Registry, then the Prescriptive Duct Sealing form must be completed and submitted to the utility.
     
  • If the utility does require project data entry, the PTCS Online Registry can be accessed using a mobile device or computer with internet access. A printed Registry Installation Report, which is also located on the registry, must be submitted to the utility.


For further information or questions, please contact the PTCS Team at ResHVAC@bpa.gov.
Cold Weather Tips
Testing Heat Pumps in Cold WeatherTestingHPCold
Special attention must be followed while performing the refrigerant check (via the temp split method) on heat pumps if the outdoor temperature is below 35° F (the strip heat lockout temperature). Lower temperatures can potentially cause higher than expected temperature split values. Here is list of potential issues and solutions to improve testing: 
  • Strip heat accompanies the compressor heat
    • Use thermostat test mode to avoid use of strip heat when testing
  • The indoor coil is hot before initiating the temperature split test, causing the coil's radiant heat to influence the temperature measurement 
    • Test the supply temperature out of line of sight of the indoor coil
  • Airflow may be different when strip heat is engaged 
    • Use thermostat test mode to avoid this potential issue
Sometimes the measured temperature split will be higher than the values provided in the PTCS Minimum Expected Temperature Split Chart, even when the testing is performed properly. One example of this is the variable speed heat pump temperature split test. The PTCS Minimum Expected Temperature Split Chart has estimates for single and two-stage heat pumps and not variable speed heat pumps. Consequently, variable speed units with higher capacities at the outdoor test temperature will result in a larger temperature split than indicated by the chart. Please include details in the "Notes" field on the registry if this is the case, so the customer service team can properly address the issue.
 
We are always trying to improve the testing process, and want to hear your ideas, concerns and recommendations from the manufacturers of the heat pumps you typically install. Please email  ResHVAC@bpa.gov with your feedback.
Testing Ducts in Cold WeatherTestingDuctCold
Testing ducts in cold weather can provide some unique  challenges compared to testing in milder weather.
 
Running a duct test can be very dangerous if a fireplace or wood stove is currently in use or used prior to arriving at the job site. Thoroughly check for all combustion appliances in the home to ensure a safe testing environment. It's worth noting that an extinguished fire in a wood stove or fireplace can send left-behind ashes into the air or onto nearby furnishings. Positively pressurizing the home with the blower door typically does not pull loose ashes into the home, but you should still monitor during the test. In particular, check for ashes when the blower door is running at a low speed to make sure that ashes are not blown around.
 
Homeowners might think that the cold temperatures they feel during testing will impact their heating bill, but you can assure them that the impact is minimal. You can reduce homeowner concerns during testing by implementing the following tips:
  • Avoid testing adjacent to the main body of the home. Use another door away from the homeowner.
  • Fully set up equipment and be ready to test prior to running the blower door fan.
  • Use the blower door fan cover when you are not running a test.
Prior to starting the duct sealing, don't forget to ask homeowners for clues to the condition of their ducting. Ask about strange smells when their heat is running, cold or hot rooms, dirty filters, or other things they notice when heating.
  

Testing Equipment Calibration TestEquipCalib
If a manometer is not kept in good condition and/or broken or modified in any way, the results of any tests will not be reliable. Also, the pressures and flows that are displayed on a problematic manometer should not be used to complete PTCS forms. To avoid potential issues with unreliable  test results keep your commissioning tools in good working order or have them calibrated and repaired regularly. 

Click here for more information on checking equipment from The Energy Conservatory and Retrotec.

All About Air Source Heat Pumps
Heating Season Maintenance HtgSeasonMaint
Heat pumps should be maintained regularly so the system operates at peak performance. Maintenance should include (but is not limited to) cleaning of both coils and the blower wheel, verifying proper airflow, and measuring the temperature difference between the supply and return plenum then comparing results to the PTCS Minimum Expected Temperature Split Chart. If the temperature split does not match or exceeds the expected split, then the refrigerant charge should be checked to ensure that the system is not leaking refrigerant.

In addition, filters should be replaced or cleaned regularly. Regular maintenance typically extends the life of the equipment and keeps the system running efficiently. 
New Thermostat Support SheetsNewTstatSupport

Updated thermostat support sheets for the Prestige IAQ and Trane 1050 will be available soon.

Please email  ResHVAC@bpa.gov to let us know if you have any questions about thermostats on our current list or suggestions for thermostats to be added.
Questions
Do you have questions about the registry, testing, upcoming trainings or the program in general? We're here to help. Reach out to 1.800.941.3867 or  ResHVAC@bpa.gov . For more information, consult our Program Homepage .


Bonneville Power Administration | 1.800.941.3867 |   ResHVAC@bpa.gov | bpa.gov/goto/reshvac