Ouchies…but at least we’ll be comfortable…

Jheeezzz I spent a lot of money today. Well, okay, tomorrow, technically, when they come to do all the work.

Seriously. $11,000. Just like that. Gad.

The house needs a new AC/Heat system ya see. Our house was built in 1982…that makes the air-handler 25 years old. The outside unit (compressor) was replaced with a cheap-Chinese-crap thing about 4 years ago when it blew in the middle of the summer. I swear this thing was painted in watercolor. After only 4 or 5 years it has structural rust damage!

But when it’s 105 inside the house, yah, you let them put whatever crap they have on the truck and write themselves a check out of your account for however much they want.

“Built in 1982” also means “built during the housing boom”. Shortcuts and lack of inspections and oversight were the reign of the day, even for the good builders. The bottom line, the system was never right to begin with…

Anyway, inefficient, old, and multiple problems with the installation have made this thing a royal pain lately. It is undersized and can’t handle the cooling load of the entire house during the peak days of summer. The condensation drains are problematic. The duct work is not balanced…the kitchen and master bedroom are always warmer or colder then desired.

When the airhandler died and in the process nearly set the place on fire one Sunday this summer, we decided it was time. We’d change out the entire system during the fall break.

Of course, it can’t be a simple matter. Seems the units that fit in the firred ceilings don’t come in high efficiency. Also, the ducting used in my house was banned and recalled about a decade ago as it eventually disentegrates from the heat. Yep, those cheap 80’s materials and corrupt inspections.

On a close examination, sure enough, several ducts are compromised. We are blowing air-conditioning into the attic through some, have limited insulation on others, and the return air path is also drawing “undesirable” air (some skipping the filter).

The bad ducts are in the “dropped” ceiling and thus not accessable without destruction of sheetrock/etc.

Ugh. It’s a complete redo. The unit relocated to the attic. ALL new ducting, registers, and air-returns.

A seer 16 multi-speed unit with the scroll compressor. 10 year “bumper to bumper” warranty. Lifetime on the compressor and blowers. Micro filtering. Guaranteed air balance, temperature control, and cutting the electric bill by half. Another 12″ of insulation in the attic whilst we’re at it, including over the garage, which has none at all.

It’s a good job, and a good company. I did my research. It’s even a good price. But it’s still a lot of money.

Ah, well. Value. The savings on energy, combined with the tax credit for installing high efficiency appliances this year, will pay for the system in about 7 years. In addition, the warranty is transferrable, so it adds at least it’s own cost in value to the house should we decide to sell for some reason.

Besides, it had to be replaced anyway. Just exchanging the low efficiency unit for one like it (they still put them in apartments) and pretending there were no duct problems would have cost about $9000. A couple extra thousand will net me a return of the entire purchase price in a few years of use.

But…$11,000! Ack!

Think I’m gonna be sick.

Daniel Meyer

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