ERV croaked – Part 4a

I am having fun with my sequential blog post titles … maybe to compensate for the inconvenience of having a sequential problem with our Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV).

Both of our ERVs (both RecoupAerator by UltimateAir) have been running flawlessly for the past two years. But earlier this month, our 1st floor ERV showed symptoms that were reminiscent of the problems we had during the winter of 2013/14 with our basement unit.

When we ran the ERV, the building cooled down rather quickly. That indicated that something was amiss with the heat exchanging process. Based on our past experience, I knew that there were two probable causes:

  1. The enthalpy wheel stopped running.
  2. One of the blower motors and/or control boards croaked.

Well, it took no time at all to determine that it was the motor and/or control board. I made a quick call to UltimateAir and a few days later we received the replacement parts. It was time to start tinkering again:

I have a suspicion that the problem may lay with the heat sink on the control board. Two years ago, when I went through the same process in the basement, I noticed that the replacement board had a significantly bigger heat sink than the original board. I also recall vaguely that Matt at UltimateAir pointed out that the board on our 1st ERV may give us the same problem.


Or was it the fibers from the enthalpy wheel that started clogging the impeller that did the motor in? I am curious to know that the experts at UltimateAir think.

On a side note – this blog begins to pay off! Because everything is documented, it’s easy to look up a problem of the past to remind myself on how to fix things – like the ERV.

Related posts:

About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

2 thoughts on “ERV croaked – Part 4a

  1. Hello-
    I ran across your blog some time ago and am inspired by your project.
    My husband and I (and our new baby)are currently living in our own gut rehab project, attempting to quickly learn everything possible about retrofitting our Chicago frame two flat in the most sustainable and economical way possible. With the amount of information out there, we have become overwhelmed. Do you have any recommendations as to where to start with our research? Would you be willing to give us a tour? I read that you and your wife used to host open houses at both of your pilot projects.
    Thanks a bunch in advance.

  2. Hi Erin, yes – we still give tours. The larger the group the better (up to 12 people). So – if you have friends who also would be interested, bring them along. Or, if it is just you and your husband, that’s OK too.

    We established a baseline at the beginning of the project to cut through the overwhelming amount of options and choices. A baseline would be either an energy audit or an energy model (or both). This starting point helps a lot with the subsequent decision making process. May be I should write a blog post just on this topic…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.