In the past, manufactured homes (the industry’s name for mobile homes) were made without ducts for return air. The furnace in the house would blow air, via a duct, into each room and suck air out of one large room (usually the kitchen and living room) back into the furnace. The lack of return air ducts worked if air leaked back into the central room or could be drawn from outside. However, in the 1980’s manufacturers started to make mobile homes more energy efficient. The homes became tightly-sealed, preventing outside air from flowing to the furnace. The result was a partial vacuum near the furnace and pressure in the rooms with ducts. Heating was uneven at best, and the blower on the furnace had to work very hard, increasing the chances of premature failure.
Our customer initially addressed this issue by cutting a gap between the floor and the bottom of doors. If the gap was large, the door looked bad, but the heating problems were solved. If the gap was smaller, the door looked okay, but the heating problems remained. The typical result was a compromise that failed on both fronts – creating a gap that looked bad and but was still too small to completely prevent heating problems. After years of changing the size of the gap our customer had begun cutting holes in the doors and installing steel grills over the holes.
Our customer came to us with several problems. First, the rising cost of steel was making grills more expensive. Second, the grills were not providing enough privacy on bathroom doors. Third, the grills on the inside of the bathroom door were rusting, resulting in warrantee claims. Fourth, the interior designers had changed the interior doors to a brown wood grain, which contrasted poorly with the white steel grills.
Our solution to all these problems was to create a plastic injection molded grill. Plastic saves customers from the high price of steel. Plastic also allows the fins on the grill to bend in a way that guarantees privacy. Plastic is resistant to rust, so warrantee claims were eliminated. Plastic can easily be colored to match the doors, and the mold can even receive a wood grain texture. We also designed the grill to work with fasteners from a major manufacturer of concealed fasteners, eliminating the ugly screws that had been a problem on the metal grills.
By listening to the customer and starting from scratch we were able to create a grill that was both functional and attractive.