Sunday, February 26, 2017

Air Conditioning!

So - our 100+ year old house never had central air conditioning, despite the miserably hot and humid DC summers. We got by with two small window units upstairs that were loud and never worked well, and one big floor unit downstairs that was really loud and never worked well. We always knew that we needed to get central air installed, both to make our lives more pleasant every summer and for eventual resale value. Since it's a pretty specialized thing, we thought it made more sense to work directly with a company, instead of paying a contractor to sub it out. And since we've heard that it's cheaper to install in winter in their non-peak time, we wanted to get it started this winter.

Sometime last fall I reached out to a company that specializes in doing high-velocity air conditioning systems, which are meant to be installed in older homes that don't have big air ducts. We thought the quote was a bit high and wanted to get a few other quotes to compare from other companies - but could not get any other hvac company to respond. All of a sudden - the original guy texts me to say he's had a last minute cancellation and can offer us a deal if we can start immediately. So after a little bit of negotiation over text (a first for me), we finally had a deal and scrambled to get ready.

This is just horrible timing for us to have a major renovation occurring. Firstly, we're starting daycare, so we are in the midst of a huge change to the morning and evening schedules, and full of lots of stress and second-guessing. Second, we were about to head out of town for the long weekend, so had to scramble to figure out what to do with the cats and giving them access, etc. Third - well, I can't think of a third right now - but it feels like there are a million things going on and reasons that this was not great timing for us. But regardless - we signed the contract, and they unloaded our new air conditioning system while it was literally snowing outside.

all this stuff arrives the morning they get started

it's just hard to believe all this stuff is going to fit

In the first two days - a team of two men installed the holes and tubing throughout the house. They ran tubes through closets to get from the attic down to the main floor, keeping the duct-work almost completely hidden. On the second floor, they ran the tubes through the attic and into the ceiling, so there isn't any exposed ductwork. They managed to get one vent into every room (and as many as three in the big rooms) except for the new half bath. Because it is an addition, they would've needed to get through the old exterior brick wall and under an old door header - and it would've required exposed vents in really obvious places, so we just decided to skip it.

one of the guys drilling a hole

Then we went to the beach and enjoyed the really warm weather while they kept working.

lesson learned: get out of town if you can

They spent another two or three days getting the unit up on the roof, connecting the power, and getting all the tubes hooked up to the circulator thing. After less than a week, they were gone and you can barely tell that they were there at all.

one of the vents in the kid's room

one of the vents in the dining room

two more in the kitchen above the cabinets

one in the living room - so subtle you almost can't see it

the return is at the top of the stairs - should help circulate air easily through the whole house

We turned on the fan, and it definitely makes a whooshing, whistling noise because it is high-velocity air, but it's so much quieter than the old window units were and frankly might be nice to drown out some street noise. There was only one spot where they couldn't use closets to get to the first floor, so they grouped a bunch of tubes together and we'll have to come back and box it in.

the one spot we need to come back and box in in our bedroom

Even though it is still February, it's now crazy warm here and already clear that having AC will be a very huge improvement for us.

In other news - Spouso told the kid that the new holes in the ceiling were ridiculous, so he now thinks that they are named "ridiculous". He likes to go around the house pointing them all out and shouting "ridiculous!".

Anyway - a huge improvement and major to-do item scratched off our house list. We're talking to architects and trying to figure out next steps for other major projects, while I continue to slowly work on finishing the sleeping porch. Hopefully more progress to report soon.