Have you been limping along all summer with your older R22 air conditioner? Hoping to avoid replacing it during the high season? Especially if you know your unit has a refrigerant leak, you may be trying to decide how long you can get by before you’ll have to invest in a new system. Now that cooler weather is on the way (hopefully!) you have some time to plan and decide on a course of action that works best for you and your budget. An important factor in making that decision is answering the question: when does R22 become illegal?
NYC Metro Area’s HVACR Blog
With the hottest temperatures of the year staring us down, the last thing we need is a meltdown over an air conditioner breakdown. Home and business owners and facility and property managers across the NYC metropolitan area are keeping their fingers crossed that mature air conditioning systems make it through the summer. This tenuous situation can’t help beg the question, “How long should an air conditioner last?”
HVAC experts say an air conditioner should last about 15 to 20 years under normal conditions. However, many factors can reduce that life, including poor installation, operating conditions, system sizing, and neglected maintenance.
Renovating a luxury residential property comes with a lot of tough decisions: about the design and layout of the space, and all the interior furnishings and finishes that make the home perfect for you. You probably didn’t expect to have to decide on an HVAC system. Yet when it comes to luxury homes, comfort is essential, and that means you need the right luxury HVAC system. That’s why so many high end homeowners (especially in New York City) are choosing VRF technology. What’s more, according to a report by Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News, equipment manufacturers are introducing VRF systems specifically designed for luxury residential homes.
What is VRF technology? It’s an HVAC system that works differently than the traditional split system that has one big outdoor condenser and one large (noisy!) air handler inside. Those older-type systems run at only one speed- full blast. Instead, a VRF system has multiple smaller air handlers that run at the exact capacity needed for the current conditions. “VRF” stands for “Variable Refrigerant Flow,” meaning that the system precisely controls the amount of cooling refrigerant required to provide the perfect comfort conditions.
Why is that better for your luxury residence? Read on to find out.
Whether you prefer old world charm or a modern twist, it took your painstaking decisions to furnish your home in a way that reflects your distinctive taste. Now you need a company that will make the same effort to protect your investment with a premier climate control system.
As a luxury homeowner or a property manager, why would you trust the installation of a high end air conditioner system or maintenance of that system to any company that does not have impeccable credentials and the capability and personnel to provide you with white glove customer service? Rest assured, there are companies nearby that can offer you with white glove customer service when installing a high end air conditioner system.
When you’re renovating an older building for modern living (especially one in an urban setting like NYC), adding modern conveniences can be a challenge. Air conditioning is a prime example.
Older buildings often don’t have the space to install the ductwork needed for traditional systems. Also, electrical systems may be sufficient to handle the load of today’s AC equipment. While upgrading the electric can be expensive, finding the space for air conditioning equipment is more of a problem. Doing it wrong can often mean damaging original plaster, floors and woodwork. Even in the best case, installing traditional equipment usually means giving up closet space or lowering ceilings to make room for equipment.
That’s why it’s smart to consider alternative air conditioning systems for older homes, as well as small businesses renovating older buildings. In New York City, historic brownstone townhouses are frequently renovated for both uses. Here we will discuss the problems with older solutions, and introduce 3 more modern air conditioning options for older homes that you may not know about.
New York is a historic city, settled by the Dutch in the 1600’s. There are actually quite a few structures dating back to the mid-17th century. As a result, we have many unique and beautiful historic buildings mixed in with the glass and concrete high-rises throughout the city. Many of those older buildings are protected by law and must be renovated according to strict rules for historic buildings conservation. That impacts an HVAC retrofit or replacement that’s typically needed to restore a historic space to a condition that works for a business or even a luxury residence.
Here at Arista, we have been working on historic building renovations for decades (no, not since the 1600’s but we’ve been at this for a long time!). So we’ve learned a thing or two about the unique requirements of historic spaces for HVAC.
Last week, we shared the first article in a two-part series about some of the issues you need to address with an HVAC retrofit or replacement for historic buildings. In part 1, we began with a list of 9 DOs when installing HVAC solutions in a historic space.
In case you missed it: HVAC Solutions: DOs and DON’Ts for Historic Building Preservation
Today, we’ll reveal the all-important HVAC DON’Ts for historic buildings conservation in part 2.
HVAC retrofit or replacement: DON’Ts for historic buildings conservation
1. DON’T install a new system unless you need to
Even when you’re making structural fixes or cosmetic changes to meet the needs of a new commercial tenant, it’s possible that the existing HVAC system, or components of it, can be salvaged for the sake of historic buildings preservation. That’s especially true of the heating system. For example, you may be able to keep the old radiators and replace the old boiler with a new one. Or, consider an HVAC retrofit to add AC to parts of the building not cooled by an existing system.
There are some situations where a repair or an HVAC retrofit may be a viable option for historic buildings conservation. There’s one caveat to be aware of, though: think carefully about keeping AC systems that use the old R-22 refrigerant. That refrigerant is currently being phased out due to the environmental impacts, and getting R-22 is becoming more difficult and expensive every day. That means you may need to consider a replacement system that uses one of the newer refrigerants.
2. DON’T forget to consider modern HVAC options for historic buildings conservation
If an HVAC retrofit will not meet your needs, don’t assume you have to replace an older system with the same type of older system! There are newer HVAC technologies that have significant benefits for historic buildings.
A variable refrigerant flow (or VRF) system is one such option. For one thing, these system don’t typically require ductwork, which can be a boon when you’re trying not to damage existing walls, ceilings and building structures. Also, the system consists of multiple air handlers which are smaller and take up less space.
What’s more, these new systems are extremely quiet, energy efficient and customizable for zoned operation.
3. DON’T cut through exterior walls
In many buildings, it’s standard practice to cut holes through exterior walls to install what’s called “through the wall” HVAC units. This is usually forbidden by building regulations for historic buildings conservation. That means an HVAC retrofit to add a small unit onto an existing system might not be an option.
In some cases, you’ll have to get creative using existing penetrations through exterior walls, and consider ductless systems.
Related article: Ducted vs. Ductless Air Conditioning? How to Choose
4. DON’T alter historic architecture
Just like you have to be creative to avoid cutting through the exterior, it takes some expertise to find solutions that avoid altering architecture in a historic buildings conservation project.
Here are some of the things you should avoid doing whenever possible: avoid dropping ceilings, covering window openings, masking historic features or altering spaces to make room for HVAC equipment. If you are creative, there is usually a way to do it without destroying original architecture.
We could tell you so many stories to illustrate that point! Take a look at this previous blog to see what we mean: Residential HVAC Services: Innovation Improves Cooling in NYC Luxury Homes.
5. DON’T make condensing units or vents an eyesore
Aesthetics is a primary concern for historic buildings conservation. That includes both the interior and exterior of the space. Whether you are completely replacing the HVAC systems or only doing an HVAC retrofit, placement of equipment is extremely important.
That means, don’t put condensing (outdoor) AC units on a visible part of the roof. Don’t add vent pipes that ruin the asthetics of the roof line. If you must put a condenser in a visible area outside, at least use some creativity to hide the unit.
Read this related article for some great ideas: 15 Creative Ways to Hide Your Outside Air Conditioner
6. DON’T introduce moisture that can damage older structures
An HVAC retrofit or replacement, done as part of a historic buildings conservation project, requires the expertise of trained HVAC professionals. Be sure you choose a company that is experienced with older buildings, because if you’re not careful with the installation you could end up with condensation damaging the historic building structure.
Water leaks can stain walls and ceilings, and uncontrolled humidity can damage woodwork and expensive finishes.
7. DON’T skip regular preventative maintenance!
As we stressed in our part 1 article, investing in HVAC preventative maintenance is a smart move for any business, but it’s a must for those located in historic buildings. Not only are the consequences higher when something breaks (see the previously cited article about water leaks!) but the costs for repairs can be higher because it’s harder to access equipment and ventilation systems without harming building finishes.
Imagine the repair costs and building damage that you could face if a blocked drain causes a slow water leak that spreads mold through the walls before anyone notices?
That’s just one reason that our last DON’T may be the most important of all.
If you’re renovating a historic building in New York City, the HVAC solutions you choose can be a very important decision. It may not be the first thing on your mind, compared to structural and design decisions. However, choosing the right HVAC systems and installers means you get the comfort conditions needed for the intended use of the space, while also doing a good job with historic building preservation and maintaining the character of the building.
Are you struggling to find luxury gift ideas for that discerning person in your life? Nothing says luxury (and appeals to those who love the best of everything) like holiday gifts that provide the ultimate in comfort.
Here at Arista, we have been serving luxury homeowners here in New York City for more than 60 years, so we know a thing or two about this subject!
Here are 6 incredibly fun luxury gift ideas for the holidays that are all about giving the gift of comfort. The last one might not seem like quite as much fun, but the experience it provides is sure to be appreciated daily for years to come.
Holiday party planning can evoke a mixed bag of emotions. You’re probably looking forward to impressing your guests and enjoying a festive occasion. But whether you’re planning an open house for a hundred or an intimate gathering for a few friends or family, chances are you’re stressing over getting everything perfect.
Successful holiday party planning is all about managing the most important aspects of your gathering: the people, the setting, and of course, the food and drink. Today we’re sharing a collection of tips that can help to remove some of the stress from holiday party planning, by helping you avoid common pitfalls in each of these areas.
When you’re managing high end residential properties, quality is something that’s always on your mind. Homeowners not only expect it, but demand it, not only from the systems and furnishings in their homes, but from the service providers that take care of them.
When it comes to quality HVAC, chances are you’re not an expert. So let us guide you through some of the important features to look for in a quality equipment for the luxury homeowner.
Choosing a quality HVAC service provider, whether it’s for installation, repair, or ongoing maintenance, is really not much different. To get the quality service you need and expect, it’s all about knowing what to look for. That can be especially challenging in a large metropolitan area like New York City, where there are so many players in the market. We’ll help you evaluate who stands head and shoulders above the rest, wherever you are searching for quality residential service.