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An Air Conditioning Nightmare on 58th Street

air conditioning nightmare
Reading Time: 3 minutes

It was a random Wednesday and I was on my way to a call where the complaint was high humidity in the home. The house never cooled correctly and things got even worse at night. What I found odd about the situation was the fact the client had stated she had just had her air conditioning system completely redone. I get to the house and the nightmare begins. Let me set the stage.

The house is around 1,300 sq. ft. very well kept, and our client is a proud mom of three dogs. She explains to me she just spent $12,000 redoing not only the indoor and outdoor AC units but the duct system as well. We chat a little more and I assure her that I can figure out the whys of the behavior of the house, I am the House Whisperer after all!! Let’s head out side and start there.

I open the unit, throw some gauges on it, check the amp draws and perform a couple other tests. The air conditioner is working great, all the readings are right where they should be. I put the panel back on the unit and my jaw hits the floor when I see the model number of the unit. It turns out the system was a four ton unit. What difference does that make you ask? The unit is way too large for the home and when an air conditioner is over sized it cools the space down too quickly and doesn’t run long enough to properly dehumidify. Part one of the puzzle is solved. There was also a couple small code violations on how the unit was installed that posed some minor safety issues. Those issues likely stemmed from installers that were being lazy that day. Let’s head back inside to the air handler.

I open the air handler closet and again jaw hits floor because to make matters even worse they installed a five ton air handler. Now please understand there are situations where you can do that, it typically occurs when the house is a little too big for a four ton and a little too small for a five. You basically create a 4.5 ton system. Remember earlier I said this house is about 1,300 sf. ft.? The properly sized unit for this home would be a 2 or a 2.5 ton depending on how the heat load calculations came out. I’m now off to the attic.

I grab the ladder, pop open the hatch and this time I really can’t believe what I’m seeing. First off there is no insulation in the attic, none!!!! Secondly the duct system looks like it was designed and installed by Mickey Mouse and Goofy was his helper. Nothing about the way the duct system was installed was correct for air flow. The ducts weren’t hung and the connection points were sweating because they were not properly sealed.

Back down the ladder to deliver more bad news and my home owner says the company that installed the system told her that she didn’t need attic insulation and they removed it. Face Palm. I now have the total picture of why this home is behaving so badly. The saddest part was everything she had just paid for had to be redone. The ducts all had to come out, the brand-new air conditioner needed to be replaced and her attic needed to be re-insulated.

What’s the moral to today’s nightmare you ask? The moral is very simple. Air conditioning is a complex science and if you do not know what you’re doing you can really screw up a house and make it unbearable to live in. By the way, the real reason the installing company removed her insulation was someone came along and realized that the air conditioner they installed was too big and maybe if they took the insulation out it would make the house hotter and the unit would work. (I’m still shaking my head typing that last sentence.) All they did was make matters even worse.

I usually end on a pun or a funny note however that is not the case today. Today I just want you to remember that when it comes to air conditioning decisions it’s not the equipment, it is not the material, it IS the company that you choose to do the work. Choose wisely.

House Whisperer out!!


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