October 2013

Aeroseal of the Lowcountry: Sealing the Deal on Home Comfort

Author: Michael Paskevich | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Think of your home as a human body with the heating/cooling system as the heart, pumping fresh air through those reflective ducts doing critical duty as the circulatory system. Punch a few holes in those vital veins and arteries, however, and it doesn’t take a medical degree to realize you’re soon headed for health issues.

Enter Ken Mueller and Jamie Kaye of Aeroseal of the Lowcountry, wearing blue polo shirts instead of white medical coats and offering a novel and low-cost new way to repair damaged air ducts and extend and improve the quality of life for area homes and businesses. Kaye teamed up with co-owner Mueller last year after they found a shared desire to open a business geared toward improving the energy efficiency of structures.

They also found a new-tech niche after Mueller, an 11-year Sea Pines resident with a background in commercial real estate operations, discovered the corporate headquarters of Aeroseal not far from his then-primary home near Cincinnati. The duo soon opened their one-of-a-kind dealership on Hilton Head Island last February, and news has been spreading via word-of-mouth and contractor referrals about a unique and cost-effective way to repair duct work and avoid costly replacement or unneeded purchase of a new HVAC unit.

The typical home hosts hundreds of feet of duct work, and much of it is hard to access, meaning a mess as well as money for traditional repairs using metallic tape or mastic sealant. “This is different because we seal the ducts from the inside out,” Mueller said, explaining how Aeroseal’s exclusive non-toxic liquid is heated until its vaporized and then pressure pumped through ducts. “It only goes where the leaks are, and it’s a nice alternative. We can do it for 50 to 60 percent of the cost of replacement and bring things back to where they were when they were new.”

The benefits of a system functioning at full capacity begin with increased air flow, which is computer-tested before and after the sealing process. “We really sell the testing process ($149) and it’s like going to the doctor,” Mueller noted. “Before you do surgery, you need to find out what the problem is instead of just going in and start cutting around.”

A solid diagnosis of problems can save both time and money, and the Aeroseal team handles important issues ranging from mold and dust prevention to the elimination of hot and cold spots in living areas. “Creating comfortable and healthy indoor spaces” is the company’s business card catchphrase.

Air lost to duct holes means HVAC units work overtime to maintain air flow, thus decreasing their efficiency and generating added energy costs. “You end up with a three-ton (capacity) unit that’s only working as a two-ton unit, which increases the wear and tear on the equipment and leads to problems,” said Kaye, a South Carolina native who founded the independent Elm Energy Group which handles energy-efficiency testing of residences. “After sealing there’s an average 20 to 30 percent increase in air flow.”

The partners are reluctant to employ the same percentages to energy savings—after all, every home is different—but lowered power bills are guaranteed along with increased dry air cleansed of outside dust, mold and allergens. An estimated 50 percent of monthly energy bills goes toward covering heating and cooling costs, and a recent survey suggests an annual loss of $25 billion among the country’s consumers due to faulty air flow. New building codes adopted in 2009 mandate energy testing standards for new construction, but owners of existing homes are on their own when it comes to maintaining a comfortable home environment.

“There are a lot of people spending a lot of money on new insulation projects when they should have looked at other solutions first,” Kaye said. “That’s why duct testing is so important, and it can pay to understand what your problem really is.”

Aeroseal also handles duct cleaning, including easily clogged clothes dryer vents plus realignment or replacement of registers and filters to improve air flow. A complete sealing procedure is handled by Certified Aeroseal technicians Joseph Reynolds and Jeff Schultz throughout the duration of one day.

“We have the only product of its kind on the market,” Mueller said. “It looks and smells like Elmer’s Glue, and it only goes where it’s needed, including those holes in ducts that are hidden behind walls or under insulation. It’s a very efficient substance; it only takes a couple of ounces out of a gallon to do the entire job, plus it’s really safe. It’s the same stuff used in pacifiers, chewing gum and other products.”

The two family men and business partners have been using the product successfully on existing abodes (including their own personal homes) throughout the area, earning positive testimonials from homeowners during their first several months operating Aeroseal. They envision further growth of their franchise, expansion into the new home construction market and ongoing research into the latest technology designed to enhance home health and comfort at an affordable price.

“We’re always looking at new developments and ways to remain on the cutting edge,” Mueller said. “It’s all about looking at the home as an entire system and making sure it’s performing at its peak.”

“We’re trying to maximize people’s investments,” Kaye added, “and this is part of a holistic approach toward that end. I can’t tell you how many people have put in a new HVAC unit and their costs actually went up because the unit is working too hard because of leaks or having ducts that aren’t the right size to match the unit… I mean, would you put the best new heart in your body if the veins weren’t working right?”

Aeroseal of the Lowcountry is located at 1 Mathews Drive, Suite 107, Hilton Head Island. The office is open Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. with 24-hr. answering service. For more information, call (843) 715-9083 or visit online at aeroseal.net.

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