6 posts / 0 new
Last post
Adding HVAC to a house

My current house does not have central heat or air. Currently it has baseboard heat and a pellet stove(which I mainly use). However when they built the house they put in some ducting and hooked up a stationary swamp cooler outside. I want to get rid of the swamp cooler and put in an HVAC system. Currently there is only about 1 vent per room which i'm sure isn't nearly enough and I understand I would have to add more venting. Would it be feasible to even use the current duct work that is there? What options/alternatives are there? This house was built in about 1989.

Re: Adding HVAC to a house

The simple answer is yes, you can use existing ducts for your new central a/c & heating system.

Get a few bids from HVAC contractors and they will tell you if you need to add ducts, they will calculate the unit size you need and tell you the type of unit that will best fit your house, depending on your apace availability.

There are many choices out there, and prices vary among the different manufacturers. Depending on your budget, choose the system that you can live with.

Before you make a decision, check reviews from other folks on line.

Re: Adding HVAC to a house

Obviously spending less is better. I see a lot of used systems for sale sometimes for pretty cheap. But yeah bottom line I need some to do survey and tell me what I need. I am not above doing it or trying to do it myself. Not sure how feasible that is though.

Re: Adding HVAC to a house

A new central system is not cheap. You have the equipment, the units, the ducts and a number of other items.
You can save money here by choosing off brands. Don't go with Carrier, Trane, Lennox, American Std. Go with the cheaper brands. That's why I said to go on line and read what other people say.

Then there is the labor. If you can install ducts - you can save money. Otherwise, the labor is what it takes to put everything together. And believe me, a/c techs earn their money the old fashion way.

But to try to save money by buying used units, that's not too smart. There is a reason why it's used and it's for sale: it's junk. If it were in good operating condition, it won't be for sale. Agree?

Re: Adding HVAC to a house

Agreed on buying the used stuff. That was the concern I had. Plus you really have no way of testing any of it so I guess you are rolling the dice with it. I guess I will see about getting a bid and go from there, thanks.

Re: Adding HVAC to a house

Around here, gas packs are popular. These are all in one units that are outside the house. They connect to the main trunk through the foundation wall. Most are powered by propane but they can use natural gas and there are all electric heat pump versions. There might even be a geothermal version but you'd have to do some research for that.

I would avoid any off brands, been there, done that, not a good experience. I currently have a Carrier brand and am happy with it. It is probably much more important to select a contractor who is in the heating business and will be around for awhile. I was new to the area when I got my first system and took an offer for a less expensive system from the propane supplier who subbed to a fly by nighter. I was active duty at the time and didn't have much money.

You should be able to use the existing ducts and that will save you a lot of money on the install. If your swamp cooler has a return duct with an air filter in it, thats even better, otherwise these will need to be added.

I would not go used. One advantage of the all in one is that all the combustion is outside, reducing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, but there is a heat exchanger and if the heat exchanger gets a hole in it, then you are pumping CO into your house. This is one of the main reason the units get scrapped, although the heat exchange is usually good for 15 to 20 years if the unit is properly maintained.

Be sure you are getting the right sized unit. A lot of HVAC contractors tend to oversize the units. Tell the contractor you want the minimum sized unit. A properly sized unit will be less expensive to buy, use less fuel and will actually last longer. An over sized unit will have shorter cycles which increase cycling costs and run the risk of not completely evaporating all the moisture from the combustion process.

Just for reference, I live in a USDA zone 7, have a 2500 sq ft log house and use a 105,000 btu heat, 3 ton AC gas pack, and even it is too big on the heating. AC is about right though.

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.