Updating duct work in older homes

30-Nov-2017 13:26 by 5 Comments

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"In 99 percent of homes," says Frank Scaran-gello, of Staten Island, New York-based Scaran Heating and Air Conditioning, "second-floor closets will give you access to locations for first-floor ceiling registers." Ducts running in closets take up less space than you might think.Because most ducts are 12 X 6 inches or 10 X 8 inches, even in a relatively small 2 X 4-foot closet, they take up just 4 of the 64 available cubic feet.

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The result is a room that doesn't seem as cool as the temperature indicates. The SEER rates how many Btu an air conditioner will remove for each watt of electricity it consumes. Federal law requires that new A/C units have a SEER of at least 13. A "package system" gangs the condenser, which cools the refrigerant and exhausts warm air, with the fan-and-coil system, which cools and blows the air. This is essentially a large wall air conditioner with ducts. Furnace ducts that deliver hot air in cold months can be used for air-conditioning. Ironically, older duct systems, which tend to be larger, work best when retrofitting central air-conditioning.Because the fan-and-coil unit is mounted in the attic in most retrofit air-conditioning systems, the challenge is to get supply and return ducts to ceiling registers in the first- and second-floor rooms below.Ducts that feed second-floor rooms are typically run across the attic floor and plunge down between the attic floor joists, where they are connected to ceiling registers.With more people in the home, and children running in and out of the door to the backyard, I turned my thermostat down to a cooler temperature.The problem with the wall cavity revolves around fire safety and energy efficiency.Mini-splits offer an economical compromise: You can install cooling units in just one or two rooms, creating an oasis to retreat to during the dog days of summer.

Consult a professional installer to choose an air-conditioning compressor that will allow you to expand a partial system at a later date.A split-system condenser sits outside, free of any obstructions to airflow.The condenser vents heat absorbed from the refrigerant as it pipes cool refrigerant to the fan-and-coil system inside the house. An undersize unit won't be able to cool rooms down completely on the hottest days and will cost more to operate because it has to run longer than a correctly sized unit.Holes do have to be cut in first- and second-floor ceilings for registers, and some second-floor closet floors will undergo surgery to accommodate the new ducts.But these holes are relatively small, and the mess is easily contained.Thermal bridging may not be a major issue, but every little step helps improve your air conditioning system, which in turn leads to less energy usage.

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