While officials with Carlisle HVAC Products bemoan the lack of tax incentives for duct sealing (see “A taxing HVAC problem") they also point out that unless contractors know how to properly perform the service, the industry won’t have much luck convincing lawmakers to support it.

That’s part of the reason Carlisle says it has offered contractors who come to its Wylie, Texas, headquarters free training on its duct-sealing products and technologies. Since 2011, groups of contractors who use or are interested in products ranging from the company’s Foil-Grip and Flex-Grip sealants to its ISAAC robotic line are invited to attend classes that are held up to five times a year. There they are given the opportunity to see the products, ask questions, complain or just learn if a product is right for their company.

It’s not just a class where attendees sit at their desks and listen to someone talk all day, said Frank Forrest, Carlisle’s efficiency solutions product manager.
“We get them out there and have them actually use the products: the bucket and brush products, the rolled sealants,” Forrest said. “We actually have them test a duct section, spray the internal side of it with our RS-100 duct sealant.”

Sometimes the class is broken up into teams and they compete to see which one can use the products the most effectively, Forrest added.

“We try to arm them with all the different products and let them choose what makes the most sense,” he said. 

Attendees are responsible for their own transportation to Texas, but once there, meals and lodging is paid for by Carlisle. A typical two-day course might start with a tour of Carlisle’s manufacturing plant, followed by an overview of the company’s products and why reducing duct leakage is so important. Standards from industry associations such as the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association and the National Air Duct Cleaners Association are discussed.

Then the class might cover figuring return on investment and pricing using DuctSense, Carlisle’s proprietary calculation tool. Other sessions cover topics such as testing for duct leakage, figuring out its severity and using Carlisle products to fix the problem. 

Contractors who complete the program are eligible to market their companies as “Carlisle HVAC authorized applicators.” Attendees have come from across North America, Australia and as far as Egypt and the rest of the Middle East.

Kevin Uilkie, as a recent graduate of the training program, said he learned a lot from the sessions. He owns KM facility Services LLC, an HVAC construction company in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, Arizona. 

“I was very impressed with it,” he said. “After seeing how the product is used and the equipment is used, it really simplified the whole process.”

Uilkie decided he needed to purchase some of Carlisle HVAC’s duct restoration and sealing products — which made Carlisle happy. 

Also satisfied with the course was Henry Baker of Pur-Vent LLC in Cary, North Carolina. Taking the class cleared up some questions he had on proper usage.
“It was very helpful,” Baker said. “I learned a lot of new techniques as far as how to apply the internal sealant and also the external sealant.”

He was able to put the tips and techniques Carlisle taught him to use right away. 

“I used it for the Duke University chapel project, he said. “We did a whole bunch of underground duct for Duke University to restore that. It went really well.”
A video on the project is featured on Carlisle HVAC’s website

The classes are all part of Carlisle’s efforts to spread the word — within the industry and beyond — on the importance of duct leakage and why it’s an energy-efficiency problem that needs to be solved. 

“We tie into throughout this whole thing (that) it’s not just a cost savings on your HVAC system. It’s also an IAQ issue,” Forrest said. 

He said it seems to be working. He recently attended a meeting of the South-central Partnership for Energy-Efficiency as Resource. The group, which covers Texas and Oklahoma, typically goes by the acronym “SPEER.” For the first time at the meeting, the group picked duct leakage as one of the top four issues it would concentrate on. 

That’s good news, Forrest said. 

“Now you have this regional energy-efficiency organization pushing it,” he said. “NADCA is looking at it (saying), ‘Hey, we need to add sealing because it makes sense.’ It’s been sight unseen for so long and people are realizing there’s a lot more there.”

Ductwork is finally getting its due, he said, adding, “I really think so.”