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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    18
    So the sellers weren't willing to deal on the house with the natural gas fired A/C, so I kept looking. Today I looked at another house with a wacky HVAC system. The guy that built it and lived there was an engineer....

    House has a forced air system, 2 coils in the attic, and a ton of plumbing and ductwork. Seems to be a 4 pipe system (looked like about an 80 pipe system), 2 for cold water, 2 for hot.

    For heating, there's an old (1959) Weil McLain boiler (I think its nat gas, but the neighbor said it was oil) for heat, expansion tank, pump, the whole 9 yards. Funny thing is, there's a run of the mill water heater sitting next to it for the domestic hot water.

    For cooling, I'm not quite sure what's going on, but on top of the garage there's a big aluminum thing (solar collector for the A/C system according to the neighbor) with copper pipes running into the house. In the mechanical room, there's a heat exchanger to chill the water loop. There's also a wooden enclosure with several lines running in/out of it, and it sounds like there's a compressor in there....there's also what appears to be a TXV near the heat exchanger.

    Does this sound like a solar system? Do they have compressors?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,371
    I doubt a solar a/c, if such a thing exists, would use compressors. More likely it would be an absorption unit, just like natural gas fired a/c's.

    I wouldn't walk away from that engineer's house for sale, I'd RUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    428
    Shophound thats a nice web site you have.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Central Kansas
    Posts
    1,145
    I think Shophound's right, but I'm not a runner... I can walk at a pretty good clip, though. This thing may be a cool system (no pun intended). There's 'more than one way to skin a cat', as my grandma used to say. But, who on earth is going to work on this system? Will the former owner do service on his design and guarantee performance? OK, if you really like the home and it's location, ignore the present system and get a good pro in there to look at replacing it with something a little more ordinary. A boiler that is basically as old as I am needs to come out- probably works just fine, but boilers from that era usually eat fuel like crazy. Use the HVAC upgrade/ replacement on an antiquated and unusual system as a bargaining chip. You really need someone qualified to review this system in person and give you an accurate assessment. Without real detail-showing photos or a site visit, I don't think any of us can do more than speculate. Good luck in your home search. Greg

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    322
    Just a guess, but the solar collector sounds like it's used to heat water, maybe for the water heater, or a pool if there is one. An oil burning furnace would be extremely rare in Houston. The neighbor may not know what he's talking about.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon
    Posts
    1,209
    The solar could also be the primary heat source with the boiler being back-up. 2-cents worth
    Proud supporter of Springfield Millers and Oregon Ducks.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    6,327
    I have seen some interesting and weird systems in Houston this sounds like a system I looked at down in Clear Lake.

    You really don't see boilers in residential around here in fact I can only remember 5 or 6 in over thirty years.

    What part of town is this home in might be interesting to look at.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    18
    Originally posted by fat bob
    Just a guess, but the solar collector sounds like it's used to heat water, maybe for the water heater, or a pool if there is one. An oil burning furnace would be extremely rare in Houston. The neighbor may not know what he's talking about.
    There's no pool, and I'm pretty sure it had a regular 'ol gas water heater, but then again it was in the same room as all the other stuff, and I was kinda overwhelmed when I walked in and saw the boiler, expansion tank, and all the plumbing for the cold water loop.

    I didn't note whether it was oil or nat. gas fired.... didn't see a storage tank for oil, nor anywhere to fill one up anywhere on the property.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    18
    Originally posted by classical
    What part of town is this home in might be interesting to look at.
    Would you like to come out and give me an estimate to replace/update the system? I was planning on asking for a credit for $X in the contract to replace the system.

    [Edited by about2buyahouse on 06-09-2005 at 06:52 PM]

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    18
    Originally posted by greg swob
    Will the former owner do service on his design and guarantee performance?
    I don't think so....he's dead.

    Without real detail-showing photos or a site visit, I don't think any of us can do more than speculate.
    Right, I understand the limitations of this medium, and I wasn't hoping for anything more than informed guesses...like maybe this was a quasi-popular system for the late 50s, that somebody had actually heard of. Its kinda sounding like its a one-off built by a nutty engineer.

    I'll post pix of the system before it is torn out if I buy the house.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,596
    Theres acouple systems like that here in lanc pa.

    Solar panels on the garage to heat acoouple areas of the house that are the main use areas, to save on fuel.

    Some of them still work.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    6,327
    I will be glad to come look at it just click on the little red house and give me a call.

    I will take some pics and post them for all to see.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    18

    Followup....

    My realtor said not to buy it since the airport and air traffic is too close/loud. Sooo, for anybody that wants to go see it, just for grins, the address is 7266 Sims.

    The MLS listing is http://www.har.com/8083074

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