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central air conditioning systems, HVAC

Air Conditioning Options: Choosing the Air Conditioning System That is Right for You

I would like to install air conditioning on the 1st floor of my 2 story home.  I have casement style windows that swing out so I can't install a window unit. I could install central air, but I don't use the 2nd floor of the house.  The windows are 10 yr old Anderson.  Should I replace 1 window with a double hung window so I can fit in an air conditioner or should I opt for central air?

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My first choice for energy efficiency, as well as overall comfort in air conditioning options, would be to install a central air conditioning system.  Central air systems can be zoned so they will only cool one floor of the home and not both.  However, you certainly should plan on both and discuss that with your contractor as it may be less costly to install some of the ducting to get ready for cooling the second floor at some point in the future.

Another option might be to install a through-the-wall air conditioning unit.  Many of the larger air conditioning units are available with wall mounted sleeves.  To install, you'd need to cut a hole in the exterior wall and frame it out the same way you'd frame an opening for a window or door.  It is very important to do this correctly, as you will be impacting the structural integrity of the house.  Also, this type of system will very likely cause a heat loss in the winter, as it is very difficult to seal it to prevent cold air leaking in. 

A better air conditioning option, which cost-wise will be in between the cost of a central system and a through-the-wall mounted portable, might be a ductless split system.  I have Fujitsu system like this in my office and it works extremely well as a supplement to my central system, which doesn't fully extend into the office space.  With ductless air conditioning, you have a wall blower that hangs on the inside wall of your home.  This is connected via a refrigerant line to a small compressor which sits outside, just like a central system.  The compressor supplies chilled refrigerant to the blower inside, which circulates the cooled air.

Given the above air conditioning options, my choice would be (1) central; (2) ductless; and (3) through-the-wall. Regardless of what you ultimately decide with the air conditioning options, you should be certain to choose the most energy efficient unit possible.  The Department of Energy' has excellent to help you understand cooling efficiency and options.

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Dishonest Waterproofing Company

I'm selling my house. The buyer had a mold remediation specialist in to check for mold. They are also a waterproofing company. We subsequently got slapped with a report that stated we had an ongoing water problem in basement, and that a full french drain system is needed (we already have a french drain leading to a sump pump - no mold found btw, and the original inspection said the basement was dry). I will be speaking with the waterproofing company soon. What questions can I ask to make sure the company clearly articulates the issue and reason for suggested remediation?

Our Answer

This scenario has conflict of interest written all over it!  First off, you are dealing with one of the most disreputable groups of contractors in the remodeling industry. Waterproofing company contractors ALWAYS recommend expensive solutions to wet basement problems that are almost always easily fixed with simple improvements to grading and gutter drainage.   And they do so by panic peddling an expensive solution, that is almost never needed.  They'll tell you your home will essentially collapse underfoot unless your get out your checkbook -- and fast.   

More recently, this slippery sub-section of the home improvement industry have also declared themselves "mold experts" which is rarely the case.  If pressed, I'd be shocked if they could produce any credible example of a certification, license, or degree that would truly qualify them as mold remediation experts.

In your case, it's even worse since it sounds very much like they are declaring a problem where none may exist. Plus, the solution they suggest is already installed!

My recommendation is to push back - hard - with the buyer. Let them know sending a contractor with a clear conflict-of-interest to proclaim a problem that will enrich their pockets isn't going to fly, especially when the very solution they recommend is already installed and where their own home inspector reported the basement as dry.  Tell them if they want to send in a State licensed structural engineer to do a proper inspection and submit a report signed and sealed by that engineer, you'll consider your options.  But otherwise, I'd refuse to do anything and find another buyer. 

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Best Way to Install a Dryer Vent

Hey guys,   I having a hard time installing the dryer vent tube. The inlet/outlet wont't line up and I end squishing the vent tube up against the wall.  I know this is restricting airflow. There has to be a better way. What products/methods can you recommend? Thanks in advanced. I love the show!

Our Answer

You're right Mike.  Getting the dryer vent connection right is far more important than most people know, and for several reasons. First off, its important for safety.  Dirty dryer ducts are a leading cause of house fires.  Plus, the longer the dryer has to work to vent that moisture, the more energy it burns up in the process, not to mention the increased wear and tear on the clothes as they tumble around a lot longer than they need to.  

It sound's like you've tried the straight forward approach of snaking the vent behind the machine, but the key here is (and as you've observed) to do this without crushing the vent. In fact, you want to do this with as few bends and turns as possible.  Every 90 degree turn, provide the same resistance as 20 additional feet of duct run, so the fewer twists and turns the better.  Here's a couple ideas that might help.

  1. Take a look at the layout of the dryer exhaust inside your house. What happens when that duct gets into the wall?  Can it be changed for easier access?  There are a number of prefabricated ducted dryer exhaust configurations that can help. In some cases, it may be smart to cut open the wall to adjust the position or re-run the duct completely.
  2. Look at the dryer.  Many can be easily modified so that the exhaust ducts out the side, instead of the back. When I remodeled my laundry room a couple years ago, I did just that. Now, instead of the duct taking two turns and then running 20 feet under my son's bedroom, it goes all of 18 inches out the side of the dryer and through the exterior wall. Our clothes have never dried faster!
  3. Once you have the ducting set, be sure to keep it clean. Cleaning a dryer vent is easy if you have a right tool. Now that I have a short exhaust duct run, its not as critical but before that, I used an inexpensive dryer duct cleaning tool called the Gardus Lint Eater. It is a series of flexible piping that link together and has a big brush on the end.  It snakes its way through your dryer venting system and will get rid of all of those dangerous lint bunnies lurking in the dryer vent.  

Lastly, it is also important to replace plastic or vinyl dryer ducts with metal duct material, which is sturdy, making it easier to clean your dryer vents.

Hope this helps!

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