We understand that when most homeowners imagine “home improvement,” they’re not dreaming of air conditioning and furnace replacement. Re-construction of the HVAC system in this Santa Ana Floral Park home had been procrastinated for several decades. But new installations made a tremendous impact on the quality of the home’s living experience for this family with small children.
Prior to the remodel, the homeowners had three significant problems:
- Air loss in their HVAC system was between 25-30%.
- Their air conditioning unit was using an older form of refrigerant that is increasing in price year after year, making the unit more and more expensive to operate, while steadily losing its efficiency.
- Their basement had become unusable and unsafe for their children because of the old furnace, ill-placed, leaking, and falling apart.
Furnace Replacement with new Installation, new PVC Vent, and Re-Ducting
When we received a call from the Floral Park homeowner, she wanted a quote to replace her 1970 Gaffers & Sattler style furnace. She also wanted to look at re-air ducting the basement. But as we looked at the entire situation, we found that much more was needed. It is true that we often don’t like to face our longtime ignored HVAC problems. But opening the blinds to the problem was the first step to a happier home.
Vent Pipe Replaced with PVC Pipe
When I arrived, I noticed that the existing vent pipe was not to code. They had run it to a chimney. So we had to come up with an alternative way of heating her home instead of an 80% furnace. We installed a 92% efficient furnace, allowing us to do a PVC vent, which we then could run up into the attic from downstairs to penetrate the roof. This new venting system passed code.
Vapor Barrier Falling Off and Leaks in the Ducting
The other problem the other homeowner had was the ducting in the basement had the vapor barrier falling off. Not only was this incredibly inefficient, but this was a safety hazard and made the basement an ugly mess.
There were bleed marks on the yellow insulation, signs of air loss in the duct system.
By re-ducting the entire basement’s HVAC system, we made sure that no vapor barrier was insight and exposed to children. We made sure that the air ducts were running without leaks and fully insulated according to the highest standards.
The homeowner was worried about her children playing in the basement around the furnace with old hazardous materials fall off. We proposed that we install the new furnace in the middle of the room, rather than in its old location. Relocating the furnace to the center of the basement gave us the opportunity to clean up the duct work and use the space more efficiently.
Fiberglass Insulation Wrapped in Bubble Wrap Insulation Cover
We put in balance dampers—these pink flags you can see hanging. That would allow us to come in and adjust the air flow to different zones of the house if necessary.
The owner of the home was still a little concerned about the pink fiberglass insulation on the exterior of the metal furnace air ducting. Wrapping in this material is the standard for insulating heating systems.
We decided to cover the fiberglass with a bubble wrap type insulation. As a standalone product, it doesn’t work well. But putting it over the pink fiberglass gave us a seal on the metal and encapsulated the fiberglass, so the mother did not have to worry about her children. (Doing so allowed us to have access to the dampers.) We also went through and took some of the Mylar wrap that is on our ducting and cut it off and put it on the boots. Anywhere that there was fiberglass, we encapsulated it for the homeowner.
92% Efficient Furnace
The big innovation for this home was the new furnace. A 92% efficient furnace means that for every $1 dollar that you spend heating your home $.92 cents goes into the home, $.08 cents goes out the chimney.
We installed a filter base next to the furnace as part of the installation, so when the filter is dirty the changing of the filter is a lot easier to do. We wrapped all our metal with fiberglass insulation.
HERS Testing by Rater Found Double Air Flow
This furnace installation job and air conditioning replacement took three days here in Santa Ana. In that time, the airflow was double than what she had. And after the HERS testing, with the new air ducting and all the sealing, our air loss was at 4.75% according to the HERS rater. The homeowner was ecstatic. The space is very usable now, and the house is very comfortable.
Air Conditioning Unit Replaced with Carrier 15 SEER
Although the Santa Ana homeowner had initially only intended on a furnace and air ducting upgrade, after talking to her, she agreed that we should look at replacing her 1970 air conditioner which was costing her a lot to operate as well.
The unit was in bad shape and was low on R22 refrigerant (Freon). R22 refrigerant is being phased out, and the cost is getting prohibitive. You are going to see it go up to $150-200 dollars a pound in the next year or two.
We replaced it with a Carrier 15 SEER Condenser. The line sets run in front of the two air conditioner units, so we decided just to leave them in an ABS pipe to protect them from getting damaged while securing them up. We reworked the electrical, so it was cleaner and less dangerous to the children. The homeowner was worried about the kids tripping on it. We added a block to hold the line set up.
The line sets coming out of the home also needed work. The insulation was falling off. This causes a loss of efficiency, so we wanted to clean that up for her as well.
When finished we went outside and wrapped the refrigerant lines with new insulation and a UV protectant tape so it would not deteriorate or break down.
Conclusion—HVAC Replacement and Installation Success Story
This project is an excellent example of how procrastination of replacement of your air conditioning and furnace systems can damage the quality of your home’s livability significantly. With some simple construction from a knowledgeable technician team like AC Cool, Inc., a Santa Ana basement was restored to functionality, and the home’s air is now clean, warm in the winter, and cool in the summer.