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  1. #1

    Lots of questions... We want to install central air.

    Hello,

    I don't even know where to begin... We are looking to possibly have central air installed. I am totally for it but it is something I have to convince my boyfriend of. He never had it so he doesn't realize what he is missing. I had it almost my whole life, and it was one thing that was on my list of must haves when we were house hunting. His must have was a finished basement... Well here we are in our first home, and he has his "man cave" and I am without central air, but this home was one we could not pass by. I am sick and tired of the window air conditioners. It take up a window, and they are sooooo loud. This is something we need to save for so probably within the next few years.

    We are located in Western Ma, and our home is a one story standard ranch 960sq ft. Three bedrooms, one bathroom, living room, and kitchen.

    We are not sure if we should do an overhaul on the whole heating system and add air conditioning to system or just have the central air installed through the attic. The heating system we have is circulated hot water baseboards. So no duct work for central air. I believe our furnace is about 19 years old. It is a Smith cast iron boiler. We had some work done on it last year...but I have not clue what the average lifetime is. I believe if we did a whole overhaul it would be switched to forced hot air, and then we would be able to add the air conditioning.

    Any suggestions as to what we should strive to do here, and any rough estimate as far as cost???

    One last thing my rafters in the basement go from front to back and there is a drop ceiling without much clearance for duct work... how does this work???

    I guess we just need some direction and how much we are looking to spend so we can save. I hate to bother an HVAC contractor for a quote as we are not ready to do this anytime this year.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    The Quad-Cities area (midwest).
    Posts
    2,694
    Quote Originally Posted by Sara830 View Post
    Hello,

    I don't even know where to begin... We are looking to possibly have central air installed. I am totally for it but it is something I have to convince my boyfriend of. He never had it so he doesn't realize what he is missing. I had it almost my whole life, and it was one thing that was on my list of must haves when we were house hunting. His must have was a finished basement... Well here we are in our first home, and he has his "man cave" and I am without central air, but this home was one we could not pass by. I am sick and tired of the window air conditioners. It take up a window, and they are sooooo loud. This is something we need to save for so probably within the next few years.

    We are located in Western Ma, and our home is a one story standard ranch 960sq ft. Three bedrooms, one bathroom, living room, and kitchen.

    We are not sure if we should do an overhaul on the whole heating system and add air conditioning to system or just have the central air installed through the attic. The heating system we have is circulated hot water baseboards. So no duct work for central air. I believe our furnace is about 19 years old. It is a Smith cast iron boiler. We had some work done on it last year...but I have not clue what the average lifetime is. I believe if we did a whole overhaul it would be switched to forced hot air, and then we would be able to add the air conditioning.

    Any suggestions as to what we should strive to do here, and any rough estimate as far as cost???

    One last thing my rafters in the basement go from front to back and there is a drop ceiling without much clearance for duct work... how does this work???

    I guess we just need some direction and how much we are looking to spend so we can save. I hate to bother an HVAC contractor for a quote as we are not ready to do this anytime this year.
    I've never lived in a home with hot water heat, but from the people I've spoken with that have, they say it is a very comfortable heat. So I would say to keep the boiler. They also seem to be very reliable.

    The central air system will go in the attic. It's a very straight forward installation. Normally there will be one supply (varies sizes available, depending on the room size) in every room and a central hallway return filter grille.

    It should take 2 guys about 2 days to complete. You'll want to schedule the work to be done when the weather is cooler.

    Does the home have a 220v. service? You could have them add some electric heat strips (very inexpensive) for those days that you want to take the chill off without starting the boiler.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Ontario Canada
    Posts
    546
    I would keep the hot water if I could, its s really nice heat. Either add an attic unit as stated above, or add a mini split or 2 depending on the size and layout of the home

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,170
    Me 3. Heat from above is not comfy so if you put in forced air for heat and put the vents in the ceiling, you wouldn't like it. Sounds like with his man cave, he won't want ductwork all over the place in the basement either. So cooling from above... Like George2 says, strips in the AH or a heat pump outside. We've done that here with people that have hot water heat. Don't have to fire the boiler to take the nip off on a mild morning.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    SW FL
    Posts
    6,287
    Designer Dan
    It's Not Rocket Science, But It is SCIENCE with "Some Art". ___ ___ K EEP I T S IMPLE & S INCERE

    Define the Building Envelope and Perform a Detailed Load Calc: It's ALL About Windows and Make-up Air Requirements. Know Your Equipment Capabilities

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,665
    i would also go with a heat pump with air handler in the attic
    We really need change now

  7. #7
    Does anyone have any rough ideas on how much we should be looking to save for this job? I think I would prefer having it run through the attic as well, and keep the heat we have. Thank you for your time!

  8. #8
    We only have 100amp circuit breakers so... I am thinking we will have to upgrade to 200amp

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    south louisiana
    Posts
    3,187
    prices will vary from location to location.
    a very general price for ducting would be $250 per duct run.
    this would include ducting, supply box & supply grill.
    plenum for supply & return, platform for equipment
    refrigerant lines additional cost.

    call some hvac companies to get prices. let them know you
    are taking bids and suggestions. you need to have some solid
    numbers to work with.

    in my about the same size house, I laid out ducts within the
    living space. I have 5 supplies & centrally located closet with
    equipment/supply plenum & ducts in top of closet to each room..
    and return air below. just to give you an idea of one way to do it.

    you couldn't put equipment in basement & run ducts between
    joists of first floor? ask companies for their opinion on this.
    it may be workable..and much much better than putting equipment
    & ducts in attic.

    there are usually a couple of options as to location & install if
    you get the right company.

    I'd vote for heat pump also, to suppliment hot water heating.

    best of luck.
    The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole. ~Plato

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    The Quad-Cities area (midwest).
    Posts
    2,694
    To expand on energy_rater_La post............another way that I've done it is to keep the air handler in the basement (less noise and easier to service). Then run (only) the supply duct through a closet and the supplies will be in the attic.

    Personally I like to have the cold air fall from above. There are always some trade offs.....pluses and minuses.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Keokuk, IA
    Posts
    5,520
    +1 on heat pump. Great for mild weather, will save you some money on your bills, but you still get the comfort of the radiant heat. You can actually control both with a single thermostat and simple boiler controls and still use the boiler for hot water if you have a indirect tank.

    I have cold air form below downstairs and from above on my upstairs system. I can't say there's a huge difference to be honest. But cold air form above should have a slight advantage, plus it doesn't take away any floor space and you don't have to cut into orginal hardwood floors.

    Is "MA" Maine or Mass? I'm guessing Mass. Since Maine to officially abbreviated ME.

    Sizing is improtant. Too big and you'll have humidity issues and it will be a lot less effceint, less even temepratures, and needlessly drafty. You have a fairly moderate summer climate, so you shouldn;t need a very large unit. On a older home, if it has a lot of brick, stucco, plaster and stone, can even be undersized a little because it has a lot of mass. Shading should be factored in as with any load calculation.

    If you place the unit in the attic, sealing up the ductwork is extremely improtant.

    In your climate I'd pick relatively low end equipment unless you have good utility rebates, especailly with heat pumps that cover some of the increased costs. Spend money on a good contractor that will properly size and install the equipment including ductwork. Pricing varies, and every installation is different. But for a new install, with lower end standard effceincy equipment you can probably keep the costs under 5 figures. in most locations.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    The South
    Posts
    2,195
    Sara

    Perhaps I overlooked it, but what is your fuel source for the boiler?

    Post back.

    IMO

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Keokuk, IA
    Posts
    5,520
    Quote Originally Posted by Sara830 View Post
    We only have 100amp circuit breakers so... I am thinking we will have to upgrade to 200amp
    Do you have an electric range? Clothes Dryer? Or are those gas.

    With a home you size, you should only need a 1.5 or 2 ton AC unit. That's only a 20A Circuit. So going to 200 Amps, shouldn't be nessesary. Keep in mind that a 100 Amp panel is still capable of delivering soemthing like 15 kw continous and 22 kw for short periods. That's a LOT of power. A little 1.5 ton 13 SEER unit only uses around 1.5-2 kw when running.

    Money is better spent on making sure you have dedicated circuits for large appliances like refrigerator, microwave, washing machine, TV/entertainment center.

    Because you back-up heat is the boiler you could choose to not install heat strips and set your balance point at 40F so it never goes into defrost.


    Because you system should be so small, it might not cost all that much. You should only need as little as a 6" supply to an average size room, smaller for bathrooms and larger for a larger family room space. You might only need 6-7 supplies and a ideally a return in each bedroom and a larger return in the living room. Runs will be fairly short. Cheapest might be a basement install, with a large returns in a central hallway space where the thermostat is, then smaller returns in each bedroom near the door. High mounted returns are nice to have, but will complicate the installation with minimal gains in a smalelr single story home. KISS. Place supplies under a window or where ever you plan to never have furniture placed.

    HAve them install a 5" media filter. You probably will only need to change it once a year with a smaller system and you shorter cooling season.

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