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.