Adding air conditioner to 1900 home

Has anyone added an air conditioner to an older home with radiators?  I understand they have to be installed in attics.  How well do they work?

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March 26 2008 - US
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Profile picture for longshot__1

I suggest looking into an air conditioning system like that provided by Unico. The system would be installed in the attic for the upper floors and the basement for the first floor (unless you open up walls to run the ductwork - not advisable). The diffusers are about 4"round and hide easily in the ceiling as opposed to a square diffuser which is much more obvious and not as asthetically pleasing to look at. On the first floor they would be installed in the floor and in both cases near the perimeter of the home.

 

I have a home built in 1885 and love the system. I design heating and cooling systems for building for a living so I know a bit about it and recommend this system in an older home.

 

Hope this helps

 

-LS

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March 27 2008

LS,

 

Thanks,  that system sounds like the perfect solution.  What would be the approximate cost for a 3700 square foot home?

 

 

 

 

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March 27 2008
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There are many ways to do airconditioning.  Heat-pumps, split systems, package units, window/wall units, scroll compressers verses reciprocating compressors, absorbtion cooling, Direct exchange (DX) verses water cooled, swamp coolers, cooling towers...

 

You really need to call some local air conditioning contractors for them to review your situation and provide you a proposal.  More choices would be better.

 

Or better still, contact a mechanical engineer to have them design what you need, and put it out to bid.

 

There are several good manufacturers, and some not so good.  But you will want to buy from a manufacturer that has local representatives to make sure serving does not become a problem.

 

Traine and Carrier are both very popular manufacturers here.

 

The biggest issues in your selection of the equipment is where to place the condensing unit section to get adequate outside air without being in the way or looking ugly, and how accessible basement and attic space is for either duct work or coolant piping.  If you have little space, you may need to use fan coil units.

 

But the age of the house really tells you almost nothing--- the style and construction techniques are much more critical.

 

Also where the house is located, specifically climate zone, is extremely critical for proper design.

 

 

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March 27 2008
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Also don't forget about the electrical issues.  If you only have heat from a gas boiler now, you probably don't have an electrical service sized for the airconditioning compressor motor(s) and fans.

 

 

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March 27 2008
Profile picture for longshot__1

Pasadenan..........I am a mechanical engineer so I understand the in's and out of HVAC systems. Since adios az said he had an older home and that there was a possibility of using the attic I assumed he wasnt going to start major renovations to put in AC. Neither TRANE nor Carrier have a system the uses the type of nozzled supply diffusers that Unico does. There are however a few companies that do.

 

Also since its a residential application most of the systems you mentioned arent fesible........ie cooling tower. The right system for residential is a split system(like unico) where the FCU is in the atic/basement and the condensor is outside where it will reject the heat to atmoshere. The fan coil portion of the unit is fairly small and the refrigerant piping is very very small- 3/4" and 5/8" plus 1" insulation around each.

 

Adios AZ - checkout the website and have them send you some info and try and contact a rep in your area. Im not sure the exact costs but Id gather that a 3600 sg/ft house would run in the 15k range and paserdenan is correct in that you may have to upgrade your electrical system to handle the load of the compressors. That can add an additional 2-3k or so.

 

Hope this helps

 

-LS

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March 27 2008
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You can buy diffusers from almost anyone, just as long as you properly design your air ballance and check the static preasure.  It may be that linear diffusers would be a better choice for the home; but again style f the home is more critical.

 

Longshot is not a mechanical engineer.

 

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March 27 2008
Profile picture for longshot__1

Ummmmmmmm excuse me but Ive been in the field for over 10years and design heating and cooling systems for a living. You are correct in saying that you can use any diffuser as long as you have enough static pressure and velocity in order to get the proper diffusion. However the system I was recommending uses 4"nozzle outlets, higher static at the fan, and a lower supply air temperature in order to use lower CFM, which is why the diffusers and ductwork can be smaller. Neither Trane, Carrier or McQuay offer a packaged residential Fan coil unit that works under these condition.

 

Linear diffusers are NOT appropriate for a 19th century home especially if it has plaster ceilings. Linear is more commonly used in commercial and/or new construction. The plenum box you need in the ceiling behind the diffuser is NOT appropriate for a retrofit. Also linears dont work period in the floor.

 

Next time you question someones integrity you should know what the hell you are talking about first. I work for one of the largest firms on the East coast and work on multi million dollar projects on a regular basis. I also have a degree in Architecture and coordinate between the mechanical and architectural departments on many projects.

 

-LS

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March 27 2008
Profile picture for longshot__1

Im sorry but your wrong and an extremely ignorant person. For someone that doesnt know much about mechanical engineering you certainly are quick to judge others. No one on here is going to take someone seriously that acts the way you do.

 

As far a minimizing static pressure...........of course you want to keep it within certain tolerances. However the lower the static pressure the larger the ductwork is. Sometimes it is necessary to increase the pressure in order to have the ductwork fit in a given application. The horse power of the motor is also effected in that the greater the static pressure the higher the horsepower on the motor needs to be. So you need to achieve a balance between the two.

 

Again Adios Az hope this helps to inform you on your AC questions.

 

-LS

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March 28 2008

Around here most of the  retro-fits I see are Spacepac systems.

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March 28 2008
Profile picture for longshot__1

Mike- Yeah space pack is another company that basically uses the same design principals as Unico. Im familiar with Unico only because we did a hi-end residential renovation that used that manufacture and I ended up using it in our home.

 

-LS

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March 28 2008

Thanks LS you have been a great help.  One other question, in the area we are moving to the water table is quite high.  The older homes tend to get water seepage in the basements.  If the heating and cooling mechanics are in the basement would molds be spread throughout the house?

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March 28 2008
Profile picture for longshot__1

It could be a problem if you are using the basement as a large plenum for the return air. If however your return air is ducted upstairs to the living space and the ducts are properly sealed then it shouldnt be an issue. I would however, to be on the safe side, buy a dehumidifier for the basement and set it to auto which will run the unit until the set humidity is achieved then shut off. 

 

I know when we bought our older home (1885) the basement had some water issues where the field stone walls would weep water during a heavy rain or the spring melt off. The previous owner had used paneling to wall in the old stone wall. That created a wonderful area for mold to grow. After removing the "food" for the mold and adding the dehumidifier the mold growth was halted. Since then we added french drains at the perimeter of the problem side and had the walls repointed with hydraulic cement and then painted with a water proof paint. So far so good........=)

 

If you have major moisture issue in the basement you really should think about ways to stop the water infiltration before thinking about adding AC to the house or at least before putting a unit in the basement. Depending on where the water is coming from will determine what can be done. Sometimes a sump may need to be added or even trough drains in combination with pumps.

 

Since Air conditioned air is inheriently dry you may want to supply a little conditioned air into the basement to help control the humidity and create circulation if you do go with AC. I however wouldnt return any air from the area for obvious reasons. Also make sure you keep an eye on the filters, looking for any mold growth, and that the unit and all ductwork is tightly sealed as per the manufacturers recommendations.

 

Thanx for the compliment on the info........

 

-LS

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March 28 2008

I am sorry you were attacked like that when you were just being helpful.  I thought that only occured on the buyer/seller boards................

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March 28 2008
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Thanx for the support. If you have any other questions just put em out there.........=)

 

-LS

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March 28 2008
Profile picture for harryhappy

I think Dunham-Bush introduced the "Space-Pak" system years ago supplying high velocity air thru 3" round ducts from ceiling openings with no diffusers.  The idea was that in retrofitting older homes it was easier to run the smaller ducts.

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March 28 2008
 
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