Central Air Conditioning: Best Way to Add
LESLIE: Alright. Well our next caller is Janet from Indiana but, you know, we called her back; she’s not there. So Don, her main man in her life – her husband – he’s going to ask us the question.
DON: Hi there.
LESLIE: Hey, so your wife ran out? What, is she shopping?
DON: She is actually at the ball practice with my grandson.
TOM: Ah, that’s great.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, how fun! Well, alright. How can we help you get this job done?
TOM: And what position does Janet play? (laughing)
DON: I think she’s keeping water to them.
TOM: Alright. (chuckling) How can we help you with your home improvement question, Don?
DON: I guess my question was we’ve got baseboard heat.
DON: How is the simplest way or the best way to go to – for air conditioning if you want to go a central air unit?
TOM: Well, you’ll need a standalone ducted system. There’s two ways you can do this: conventionally with full-size ducts and those would be low-flow, high-volume ducts – your standard air conditioning duct; or you can use a high-velocity system. The high velocity systems use very, very small tubes that look sort of like dryer exhaust ducts. They’re about three or four inches in diameter …
LESLIE: And they fit in between the studs in your wall.
TOM: Yeah, or in between the floor joists and when they come out of the wall it looks sort of like a little white, plastic doughnut coming through the wall as opposed to the big 8×12 grill that you see. And those systems are a little more convenient to install because you need to do less destruction to the house to get the ducts where you need to go. But, on the flip side, they’re more expensive to install. Even though they’re a little more convenient, the price of the materials and the parts is actually higher. And that’s called a SpacePak system; S-p-a-c-e-P-a-k. And they’ve recently seemed to be – have sort of resurged. There’s a lot more interest in them right now. They were fairly unavailable for a long time but now we’re starting to see more and more of them. And I’ve actually, in the years I spent as a home inspector, inspected many houses that had these systems. And people love them for the convenience. They do occasionally – we do occasionally hear complaints about them being a little louder because of the high velocity; say, just a bit of a whistling sound. But I think …
LESLIE: But the convenience from an architectural standpoint …
LESLIE: … about not having to make a lot of changes or have unsightly ductwork because there’s no place to put it.
TOM: Yeah, and I think when properly installed the whistling can be reduced, if not totally eliminated by a trained installer.
LESLIE: Hey, when you’re cool you don’t hear that whistling.
TOM: That’s right.
DON: OK. Now, I’ve got a four-foot crawl space underneath the house.
TOM: Well, you know – and this is a single-story house?
TOM: Well, if you’ve got a four-foot crawl space I would use a conventional duct system then. There’s no reason – because you have total access. What you’re going to have to do is you’ll pull all the units down there; you’ll bring the supply registers up the walls. So there will be some wall destruction but not a whole lot.
TOM: It can be – certainly can be minimized. OK, Don?
Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. We hope that advice helps you keep cool all summer long.