The Symptom isn't the Problem
Updated: Sep 25, 2018
I had a great day recently, teaching a class of project managers and salesmen about how to get their job done better and to keep making happy homeowners. They are very skilled, dedicated professionals that have come across problems that they were having trouble understanding. It’s great to work with folks who want to get things done right the first time for their clients. But not every professional comes across every issue in their field.
Professionals can come across a problem that they've never seen or heard about before. And it takes time or insight to figure out what's all going on. The underlying issue is what needs to be resolved and that's not always obvious.
We had a great in class session for about 4 hours, mainly exploring the dynamics of air flow in homes and how many systems are affected by that air flow. Air flow is hard to appreciate, primarily because air is hard to see. So, you're not exactly sure when it's moving and in what direction. Just realizing that air is moving and affecting various systems, can remind you to start looking for other signs that might explain a problem.
For some of the newer guys, this was a landscape of ideas that they hadn’t yet looked at. And for the experienced guys, learning the principles of moisture flow, heat flow, & air flow provided the conceptual structure that helps to organize and understand previously unexplainable issues. They had all seen unexplained issues in homes. For a few of the experienced guys, we simply had to think of an issue they had come across and an understanding of the situation would crystallize in their minds, ordering itself around those principles: Moisture flow, Heat flow, & Air flow.
I'm sure they will be able to better diagnose problems in their customers’ homes after Friday. Of course, the learning continues, and the questions still manage to accumulate. We have tentative plans to continue training by performing diagnostic testing of a remodel or problematic home. Key field crew members will attend so they can also appreciate the effects that air leakage can have. And more importantly, how simple caulking and air sealing can be an incremental and cumulative improvement to the home.
It is critical for the guys in the field to understand air sealing’s importance. To foster professional pride, you can't just be told to do something. You have to understand why it's important to do it well. Why your efforts will matter. How things are assembled will always matter more than the specific materials used. This includes effective, and often inexpensive, air sealing.
It has been said that “Mediocre materials installed properly, will always outperform, expensive materials installed poorly.” My years as a building consultant have proven that wisdom repeatedly. Mega Pros Home Improvement and Remodeling already believed in that. On Friday they gained a better understanding of another facet of home improvement.
Thank you to David Hochberg of Perl Mortgage and Home Sweet Home Chicago for introducing me to Joe Hogel and the team at Mega Pros. I am grateful to know and enjoy working with people who are constantly trying to improve what they do.