Historic homes have a number of distinct advantages over newer builds, including the sturdiness inherent within thick brick and plaster walls. However, these homes often lacked modern amenities like whole-house air conditioning and plumbing durable enough to service a large number of bathrooms, which can mean that a seemingly simple upgrade can actually be a significant challenge. If your home is heated with a radiator and lacks the ductwork for central air conditioning, what are your best home cooling options? Read on to learn more about the process of installing ductwork for central air conditioning, as well as some of your alternatives if you opt for a less-invasive type of climate control.
How is central air conditioning installed in a historic home?
Some large historic homes are already equipped with the ductwork to move heated or cooled air throughout the home; this ductwork was usually installed in lieu of using multiple radiators or wood-burning stoves to provide whole-house heat. If this is the case, you'll be able to upgrade to central air conditioning just by installing an exterior compressor unit that can connect to your ductwork and provide cool air each summer.
However, not all homes have this ductwork, and installing it when converting to central air conditioning can become an extensive project. Contractors will need to access the spaces between your floors and behind your walls to install insulated ducts—a challenging prospect in homes with thick plaster or adobe walls. While quotes for the installation of a compressor unit can vary, it's a good rule of thumb to double this budget when installing new ductwork.
If your home has sufficient empty space within the walls and floors to accommodate your new ducts but minimal insulation in these areas, you'll likely also want to re-insulate your walls to improve efficiency and prevent heat transfer from your air conditioner (or radiator) to the outside.
What are your central air conditioning alternatives if you use a radiator for heat?
In some cases, you may not have the home improvement budget to install central air conditioning, but dread the thought of ruining the curb appeal of your home with a window unit air conditioner. Fortunately, there are still a few other options that can provide you with cool air all summer long without impeding the ability of your radiator to provide heat in the winter.
- Evaporative cooler
These air conditioners, often called "swamp coolers," operate by using the power of water vapor to lower the ambient air temperature. If you've ever found yourself standing under a misting tent during a hot outdoor event or finding yourself chilled while walking through thick fog, you've already learned that vaporized water can be much cooler than the surrounding air. A swamp cooler blows a stream of air through a vapor mist, lowering the air temperature, and then pumps this cooled air out through a ductless vent or fan.
Evaporative coolers can be a great option for dry areas, as the use of water vapor in the creation of cold air helps this unit essentially double as a humidifier. You may be able to limit the use of other portable humidifiers in your quest to keep your home a comfortable temperature.
- Portable air conditioner
A portable air conditioner operates quite similarly to a window unit, but can be more aesthetically appealing due to the minimal ventilation required. Instead of ventilating out of the entire back of the unit, like a window air conditioner, a portable air conditioner has a flexible hose to carry hot, moist air to the outside. This can allow you to move your air conditioner from room to room as needed, rather than being stuck with a noisy air conditioner in the most-used room of your home, while also requiring just a small, unobtrusive exit hole (similar to the one used by a clothes dryer).
To learn more about your options, contact a company like Nova Air Conditioning & Heating.