Dilemmas with Add-on Spaces
With real estate prices soaring in Nashville, many homeowners are opting to stay put and enhance their existing home rather than move. Perhaps you've decided to close in a garage to be used as living space, finish off a bonus room, add a sunroom, or turn basement storage into living space. Since these spaces were not part of your home's original central HVAC system, you're faced with a dilemma: what to do about heating and cooling these add-on spaces. In this post, we'll talk about some important considerations.
Location and configuration
Location and configuration of the add-on space matters when sizing the system.
Cooling a basement which is partially or entirely underground will require less cooling capacity than cooling a room, such as a bonus room over the garage, which has a ceiling near the roof or attic, where heat tends to pool, and also has unconditioned space beneath it.
The number and type of windows and doors are also a consideration, as these are areas where cooling and heating energy is lost more rapidly.
â€‹Does the add-on space get a lot of direct sun or is it protected by shade? Which direction does it face? If you're enclosing a sunroom with large windows on many sides, it will require much more cooling than the other more traditional rooms of your house.
How high is the ceiling? Remember, you are cooling not just the square footage of the floor but the entire volume of the space.
Items such as this go into figuring the peak heating and cooling load for the space. Getting a system that is either too big (see our post "Think Bigger Is Better? Not When it Comes to Cooling!") or too small can leave you feeling uncomfortable! If you are in doubt about sizing an appropriate solution, you'll want to consult with an HVAC professional. No sense throwing money away on a system that won't do an adequate job.
How the space will be used
Will your add-on space be part of your regular day-to-day living space? Or will it be a room that might only be used occasionally, such as a guest room, or only used during certain seasons? Will the add-on space need to be a separate zone, so you can control the thermostat independently of the rest of the house? This is often the case when your add-on space is in an area with vastly different needs from the rest of the house: a room that is underground (basement) or has lots of windows (a sunroom), or a room with special equipment or machinery. Will the room need just heating or just cooling or both? Knowing how the space will be used will aid you in selecting cooling and/or heating solutions that will be both functional and economical.
In our next post, we'll talk about the pros and cons of the various options for heating and cooling your add-on space.
Posted on 09/15/2016 7:17 AM by Tony Anderson
FIGHTING BACK AGINST FAKE REFRIGERANTS
Counterfeit and illegally imported refrigerants pose real safety and health concerns to HVAC technicians and consumers, as we detailed in our earlier post (see Beware of Fake Refrigerants!). In recent years, with the curtailment of the refrigerant R-22 and its subsequent rise in price, this problem has gotten worse. Now, there is much more scrutiny by the various authorities such as the EPA, IRS, and customs officials.
The Industry Fights Back
The HVAC industry now has much greater focus on recordkeeping and knowing the source of all supplies. To fight against counterfeit labeling, one refrigerant manufacturer has added a patented security hologram that provides immediate visual verification that the refrigerant is a genuine DuPont product. The Izon® label is a unique 3D security system and contains an embedded code that allows for greater product tracking and traceability (see more info here). Some refrigerant suppliers have begun routinely testing the contents of refrigerant cylinders they receive, using a halide test or a portable refrigerant analyzer, to spot contaminants and counterfeit products before they wind up in a consumer's system.
What You Can Do
Here are some things you do, to avoid becoming a victim of counterfeit refrigerants:
Price: If the pricing you are quoted seems too good to be true, it probably is. The going price per pound for R-22 is about $45-95, and for R-410a it is $30-70. Know what you're getting and whether the price includes installation. Get quotes from multiple suppliers. If one seems crazy low, it could be it is an illegal import or counterfeit.
Selling to Consumers: Although you can find cylinders of refrigerant selling online for much cheaper, it is illegal for a retailer to sell directly to consumers or to anyone who does not possess EPA 608 certification. If they will sell directly to you without this certification or do not ask to verify your certification, that is a big red flag!
Know your Supplier/Contractor: How long has your supplier or contractor been around? What is their reputation? Can you get in contact with them when you need to? Seek online or first-hand reviews from their customers. Verify that your HVAC technician carries Section 608 certiï¬cation from the EPA. If they can't or won't show you proof of certification, that is a big red flag.
Verify the Cylinder: Look closely at the labeling of the refrigerant your technician is using. Product names such as R-22a, 12a and 290 should not be used in a residential HVAC system. Verify that the technician is adding refrigerant from a cylinder that is clearly marked to be the "right" kind (if your system needs R-22 that it says R-22 on it) and has the manufacturer's name on it.
Label Your Unit: Always insist your contractor/installer label your unit with the type of refrigerant they added. If they did use a legal R-22 substitute, such as R-422D, make sure it is labeled as such. That way, the next technician working on the system won't put R-22 in your now 422D unit.
If you're having to add refrigerant to your system, it means you have a leak (see our post Fix the Refrigerant Leak Now!). If you have an older HVAC system that uses R-22, consult a reputable HVAC technician to see if it makes sense to continue investing in your existing system or if you'd be better off replacing it with a system that uses the more environmentally friendly R-410A refrigerant. Unfortunately, R-22 charged units are not compatible with R-410A refrigerant, so you'll have to replace the entire system (to help you weigh the pros and cons, see our post Repair or Replace?). On the bright side, if you do invest in a new unit, it will be more environmentally friendly and energy eï¬ƒcient, so you'll save money on your monthly cooling costsâ€¦ and those long-term savings can really add up!
Posted on 09/01/2016 7:25 AM by Tony Anderson