A historic house can be fitted with a modern, energy-efficient HVAC setup. If you look at some of the popular historic homes in Portland, a retrofitted HVAC setup would be common between them. This means a more efficient, sophisticated HVAC setup is feasible in these houses while keeping their old-house charm. Though installing an HVAC setup is quite possible, completing such a complex project with the least modifications to the appearance of the house would require creativity and ingenuity that only an HVAC expert can bring to the table.
HVAC System Installation Challenges in a Historic House
• The municipality could restrict house modifications if you’d like to maintain the historical status of the house.
• The home isn’t spacious enough to house ductwork without bringing the ceilings down.
• Current ductwork’s size may not be appropriate.
• You may have to strip exterior cladding or interior finishes to install vapor barriers and insulation.
• The HVAC equipment-caused vibrations could be a bit too much to handle for the house.
• The electrical system of the house may not accommodate the load of the HVAC setup.
• The location of HVAC equipment, such as grilles and registers, must be thoughtfully placed to keep the historic features and finishes intact.
• Retrofitting could entail tightening the building’s envelope, like installing high-efficiency windows, to mitigate energy losses.
• You may have to frequently oversee ambient conditions to ascertain if the HVAC setup creates conditions that promulgate wood cracking, rot, metal corrosion, paint blistering, etc.
Planning the Fresh HVAC Setup
Prior to installing a brand-new HVAC systems setup in an older or historic home, ascertain how will you choose the ideal heating and cooling solutions for the building. Would you be living in the house or opening it up as a retail space or museum for the public to see? Would you use the space seasonally or regularly? Generally, the ideal historic building uses are the ones that need minimal alterations to the building’s original architectural features.
After ascertaining how you would use the house, you should consider hiring a professional team comprising an HVAC installation expert; HVAC design expert; mechanical, structural, and electrical engineers; preservation consultant; and a preservation architect. The members of this team would be accustomed to:
• Preserving historic architecture
• The cooling and heating load of the house
• Tenant requirements
• Fire and building codes
• The impact an HVAC setup would have on a house
• The house’s current mechanical systems and construction materials
• How to better the energy efficiency of the house
Based on your scenario, these experts could advise you to use a hygrothermograph to measure the interior temperature and humidity levels of the house for a year, as the existing conditions have preserved the house for decades.
When you get on-board with us, we recommended prioritizing the features, finishes, and spaces that you’d like to preserve. And then recognize spaces that are more suitable for mechanical apparatus – such as basements, attics, false ceilings, closets, floor cavities, stair towers, and vertical chases.
Historic Homes HVAC Solutions
• Mini-Split Setup
A mini-split system is like an air conditioner, and Indiana Furnaces setup wherein they have outdoor and indoor units. This system type, however, does not need a lot of ductwork, so the air inside rooms that cannot accommodate ductwork could be conditioned. Installing a min-split setup is simpler compared to traditional setups. It is negligibly invasive, and lets targeted zoning so that the conditions in various portions of the home could be controlled.
• High-Velocity System
A high-velocity AC is ideal for older houses that do not have any ductwork to start with. Such a system employs small tubes so that the professional could snake around and through current construction, such as high ceilings, closets, and in crawl areas. This solution warrants some retrofitting; the registers are inconspicuous.
• Modulating-Abridging Gas Boiler Setup
A boiler setup is a comfort setup found in several historic houses. In the system, a pump disseminates heater water via pipes and radiators before directing it back to the boiler. Though there are different boiler types, condensing boilers are the most effective. It incorporates a secondary heat exchanger to generate more heat, rendering it more efficient.
• Central A/C System
If a historic house has significant basement and attic space or crawl area, a central AC system with ceiling or floor registers in every room would be appropriate.
Tree leaves are in full bloom, the grass is glistening green, and hot temperatures will arrive any day now. Although this is welcome news for many, you may be worried about the upcoming heat wave if your HVAC unit barely survived the previous summer. If your system is fixed together with sticky tape and generating little cold air, it is time to consider getting a new one before the season changes.
Deciding which air conditioning unit to buy requires research time, to ensure that you find an affordable unit that fulfills your requirements. If you delay until the first eighty-degree afternoon to begin, you will pay extra and may end up making an error if you rush your decision.
What are the benefits of replacing your heating unit when your air conditioner malfunctions?
The initial thing to think about, when you are getting a new air conditioning unit, is whether to get a new heating unit as well. If you can still warm your home effectively, you might feel like it is unnecessary to get two new systems. However, in reality, your cooling and heating units function together to regulate the temperature of your living area. Therefore, if you only replace one of these units, you might compromise your comfort and have to pay extra over the long term.
Air Conditioning and Heating Units Have to be a Matching Pair
Even if your home has a couple of units, a heating furnace and an air cooling unit, those units probably use the same air blower or handler that sends the air from each unit through your living area. In a normal split unit air conditioner, there is an exterior unit (which might be in a technical room or on a roof) that performs refrigerant gas compression and releases the warmth that is extracted from the air indoors. Then, there is the interior evaporator or unit that soaks up the warmth from the air indoors. Normally, the interior unit uses the same air handler as the heating unit for greater efficiency.
If this scenario describes your home and you wish to get a new air conditioning unit only, this means having your exterior unit replaced without altering the interior unit it works with. Technicians, like those at Comfort Mechanical, call this a ‘mismatched unit,’ and it often causes a range of problems.
Issues With Mismatched Units
If your air conditioning unit is mismatched, you will have a more economical, new exterior unit and a slower, older, and less economical interior unit. Here are just a few of the issues that arise from this set up:
- You will not get the reduced utility bills you are expecting. Once your interior unit cannot keep pace with the exterior unit, the unit stalls and any efficiency gains are minimized.
- You will encounter a larger number of breakdowns. The newer air conditioner puts a strain on the older unit, causing its’ components to wear out quicker. In particular, this is the case if the newer unit is not manufactured for the load that the older one is designed for.
- Your comfort will be sacrificed. You would expect a newer unit to improve your comfort levels. However, because the air handler and evaporator cannot keep pace with the needs of the newer exterior unit, your living space might not be comfortable all the time. You will notice temperature changes and cold and hot spots.
Potential Invalid Warranty. Manufacturers are aware of the pitfalls of mismatched units, and might not offer warranties for these types of installations.
Pay Less for Installation
When you are calculating the price of getting two new units simultaneously, as opposed to purchasing them separately, make sure you take into account the cost of installation. It is far more complex to install new air conditioners with mismatched units, compared to replacing both units simultaneously. How does this affect you? You will pay more over the long term with the separate installs, which are time-consuming and intricate, rather than one straightforward procedure.
A Chance for an Improved Unit Design
By replacing your air conditioning and heating units simultaneously, you get the chance to acquire a combined cooling and heating unit that will provide extra energy efficiency, enhanced comfort, and easier maintenance. There are numerous options for these kinds of units, based on your cooling and heating requirements, your place of residence, and your property. Here are some of the options:
- Packaged units on rooftops (for use on low rise properties) that feature every component in a single unit.
- Heat pump units that can offer both cooling and heating to reduce energy expenses.
- VRF (Variable Flow Refrigerant) units that offer cooling and heating, and can deliver both simultaneously to different parts of living space. Also, they can offer bespoke cooling to various zones for consistent humidity and temperature control.
Once you decide you need a new HVAC system, it is also wise to consider selecting a good provider to care for your new appliance. If you select an installer who services the products they sell, you will get trustworthy advice from a firm that is knowledgeable about the main brands and unit types.
The furnace is important equipment for those individuals living in parts of the country that get much cold especially during the winter season. Furnaces provide heat that keeps the home warm during the cold times. Furnaces are simple equipment that requires proper installation and maintenance to provide the required warmth when needed. During the old days that is ten years ago, electronics and furnaces were checked annually. But today electronics and furnaces do more work compared to the old days. Therefore, they need regular servicing. There exist key steps that technicians must do to ensure the furnace and boilers equipment are clean and always ready for work.
In the olden days when the service technicians were at work, they pulled out all the burners out and blew them with carbon dioxide and then inspected the heat exchangers to fix the cracks using the mirrors. Again, they vacuumed the dirt they found in the furnace vents. The technicians further replaced the thermocouple, cleansed the pilot assembly thus ensuring it burns clean, and well positioned on the thermocouple and the pilot runner.
The technicians further pulled the blower, greased the squirrel cage bearing, motor bearings, and inspected the belt for possible cracks. On the drive blowers, the technicians were required to oil the motor bearings. Oiling reduced friction on the moving motor parts, for instance, the metals. They moved to the next step after repairing the cracks and cleaning the blower thoroughly.
For highly qualified technicians to demonstrate their level of skills, they never forgot to check the most critical part of the furnace known as the limit switch. Limit switches are available in every electric, propane furnaces, oils, electric and broilers equipment. The switches primary function is to turn the equipment on and shut it off after functioning. In case the blower fails, the switches could help to turn and shut off the gas valves. The switch also played a central role in providing relief to the boilers, water heaters and electric devices from overheating and fire starts.
There are a variety of ways approved for checking and inspecting the limit switches. Better and qualified people for the job pulled the off the blower wire switch hence igniting the furnace burners. However, the furnaces could light up after reaching a temperature of about two hundred degrees, not only pulling the limit wire switch. The burners could shut off when the temperature is reduced to about 140 degrees, and they will never relight again.
Other professional technicians checked and lighted the blower limit switches by continuously rotating the dial located on the limit switch and blower setting until the burners they shut off by themselves. It is however enjoyable and practical to take off the wire off the switch limit and test. Through this way, the blower chances of failure are low.
Checking the flue pipe is the last and an important step while checking the limit switch. Checking the flue pipes ensures that the chimney has not been blocked by dirt such as soot and birds. Dead birds can be found at the pipe flue, and some birds have made an entrance to humans basements. Such incidences do not, however, occur at the new furnaces. The last and critical thing done was to check the gas leaks and fix them properly. This would avoid gas wastage hence minimize costs.
The recent furnaces for the last ten years to the present
The furnaces and boilers of the recent days need much attention just like the furnaces of the olden days. The modern furnaces most essential part that must be thoroughly inspected is the flame sensor. Today’s furnaces prettily watch themselves; therefore, they are not dirtied easily. This is because they are working in an enclosed environment. The circuit boards must run the gas valves, blower and the safety controls including the limit switches and the blower switches. The blowers must be sealed, and as such, they do not require greasing or oiling.
The time the furnaces and boilers should be checked and inspected
The time for checking and carrying out the required reparations much depends on the environment the furnaces and boilers are set and working. For instance, if the furnace is working in a dirty and dust-prone environment full of animal hair require checking in less than a year. On the other hand, if the furnaces are working in a clean environment, they can be inspected in 2 to 3 years. Therefore, it is evident that furnaces working in clean environments spend less money to carry out checkups and cleaning.
It is important not to forget that furnaces usually shut down while they develop the slightest fault. Technicians, however, tend to think that when furnaces shut down, it is time the homeowner should replace them. However, it is the mandate of the homeowner to decide when their furnaces and boilers should be replaced.
Replacing furnaces and boilers for convenience in working is a step that must be done regularly to mitigate damages. Technicians, therefore, must have the right knowledge for accurate furnace installation and maintenance. The working environment also matters the extent to which these equipment collect dirt. Checking the limit switches, flue pipes and motors are essential for proper furnace maintenance. Homeowners should, therefore, contact the right people with the right knowledge to carry out the maintenance and installation services.
Keeping hair, dust, and debris out of your furnace and keeping it working efficiently is the job of your furnace filter, an essential part of your system.
But many homeowners aren’t sure how often their filter should be changed. The rule to remember is every three months.
To make sure your filter and the furnace itself are working as efficiently as possible, your filter should be changed every three months. Any furnaces that are overly clogged with debris and dust has its airflow restricted, and in the long run, this issue can lead to an inconvenient and costly breakdown of the entire system.
However, you should check your furnace filter once a month, even though it should only need changing once every three months. You can avoid an expensive breakdown and the inconvenience of a furnace that isn’t working properly by making sure your filter is clear enough to filter dust and other particles when you look at it every month.
If you notice that the filter is greyish in colour, or it appears dusty due to all that airborne debris from building up, it’s a sure sign it needs changing.
How often your furnace filter needs to be changed or cleaned can also be affected by your home’s environment.
All that pet hair tends to end up in your furnace if it isn’t vacuumed up thoroughly. Make sure that you are checking your filter once a month if you have a pet, as a cat or dog in the home will cause your filter to get clogged faster than one in a pet free home.
Allergies Or Asthma
Your breathing can be adversely affected if your filter gets clogged with dust, making it important to check regularly if you have asthma or allergy sufferers in the house. You can make sure your home’s air is fresh and healthy with new filters, along with vacuuming and dusting regularly.
Your filter will collect more debris and dust the more you use your air conditioner and furnace, as both systems use the furnace filter.
How to clean or change the filter in your furnace
To do the job safely, turn off your furnace before doing anything. Then, make sure you know which way the filter goes back in before taking it out.
The filter you just removed can be reused and cleaned if it has a clear plastic frame around it.
Any debris and dirt that has collected on the filter should be sucked up gently with a vacuum cleaner, using an extension hose if possible. Any dirt that still remains after vacuuming can then be removed by gently wiping it with a damp cloth. Remember, before you carefully put the filter back into your furnace, to make sure it has dried completely.
It’s a faster process to replace the furnace filter if it’s the type that is disposable. No need to clean it; simply make a note of the size and visit your local hardware or home improvement store. The new filter is then inserted into your furnace. Don’t forget to check on it again on a regular basis once you have the new one is doing its job.