Installing Modern HVAC In A Historic House

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.

Buying A New Air Conditioner: Tips & Tricks

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.