It’s no secret that we live in a house that was built in another era. Just looking at it, you can see from the construction that it was designed and built from materials that you just can’t find anymore. No modern building would ever be constructed with no insulation between the outer and inner walls, let alone none in the interior walls.
Going through the interior of the house, one finds there are places where there are double ceilings, usually to conceal plumbing that was added later in the life of the house, considering when it was constructed, there were no bathrooms inside. I’ve never figured out where the outhouse was located, though I’m fairly certain there was a barn out behind the house, given there are the bones of an ancient foundation behind the current garage.
Either in the 1950s or 60s, a previous owner decided to do some upgrades to the house. They put on an addition with a cinderblock foundation, along with the attached one-car garage. While they were doing that, they neglected to tie in that part of the house to the furnace/heating system, so there’s a thermostat next to the coat closet that may have been attached to a space heater, though I’ve never been able to figure out -how- it was wired to work adequately. Consequently, in both the Spring & Summer, along with the Fall & Winter, it either is too hot, or too cold in the addition. So we have to utilize space heaters in the winter, and an air conditioner in the summer. Which both add to the utility bills.
Two years ago, we spoke to the local HVAC business we use to clean our furnace, about possibly upgrading our system to at the very least a new, more efficient one, which would save us money in the long run. He was very informative and gave us some options to consider, and then we may have hit a snag. The ductwork that was installed at probably the same time as the old furnace had what appeared to be fiber blankets glued to the metal. Given the time frame of when it was all put together, there’s a high probability that the blankets would have asbestos in them. Suffice it to say, that gave our HVAC guy some pause, as he was indicating that with the more efficient furnace, there might be the necessity of replacing the ductwork in the house. We left it alone at that point and didn’t pick up the subject again until last year. By then, he had consulted with a few people that had experience in such matters, and their collective opinion was; that if the blankets on the ductwork were left alone, there wouldn’t be a problem replacing the furnace. Just leave the ducts as they were.
Around April of last year, we called and asked for an estimate on replacing the furnace, but my wife wanted to have a quote on possibly going a step further, by upgrading to a central air system. We settled on a Goodman furnace system, but it was going to have to be vented out the opposite side of the house from where the old one was. Which meant drilling into the old brick twice for a fresh air intake and exhaust vent. They gave us several options to choose from, we settled on the best choice for our house after consulting with several people familiar with both the brand and our situation. We also decided to bite the bullet and go for the whole smash, which would put a condenser next to the house so we could have central air. We had vacationed at a house in the Hudson Valley that had both central air AND cathedral ceilings, and it was a very nice setup. Even in the 85-90 degree weather of late July & early August, the house was quite cool with the in-house air conditioning. Too, no more lugging and installing (then removing and storing) heavy AC units. That’s a plus.
The furnace was installed back in August of 2021, and it worked very well over the past winter. Even with the price of NG going up with the pandemic and subsequent rise in fossil fuel prices, we really didn’t do all that bad with the cost of what we were consuming. I’m fairly convinced that we would have been spending more if we were still on the old furnace. Last month the HVAC guys came and installed the condenser (we went with a 16 seer unit instead of a 14 because we believe we could get more efficiency out of the larger unit and a 14 would probably labor a bit more and cost us in electricity) and accompanying electrical work to make it all run, he had an electrician with him and were able to do some juggling in our breaker box to make it all make sense. There was some suggestion that we might not have had enough space in the box, but they assured us we’re not going to have any power issues; we have a warranty for 10 years on their work and the equipment as well.
We as of yet haven’t had a day where we can test out the whole new system, but probably in the next couple of weeks, we will. Generally, there will come a day when the bricks on the outside of the house are being baked all day long and that will heat up the house to the point where it will become necessary for the central air to kick in. Right now our nights are a bit cooler (30s and 40s) and our days are still getting into the 60s and 70s (though the weather is calling for near 80 for today and tomorrow). We’ll see how it all works out, and I’ll be posting a follow-up to this post come Autumn.