Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Heat and AC Problems

The duct work was all done, and the drywall was all done, and the electrician finished wiring the house.  Next it was time to finish out the heating and air conditioning system.  The HVAC guy came and installed the thermostats and finished up the loose ends. Some of the ducts in the attic already started coming apart, and he had to redo them as they were installed incorrectly to begin with.  He installed the returns and the vents and turned on our new HVAC systems.  The city inspection was done and the systems passed inspection, and everything was finished.

We decided to give our new HVAC systems a try.  The nights were still chilly, so we decided to turn on the heat to see how it works.  The HVAC units are heat pumps, so we expected the air coming from the vents not to be super hot.  We knew heat pumps blow out only lukewarm air.  But when we turned on the heat, the air seemed a whole lot cooler than just lukewarm.  The heat did heat the house eventually, but stayed on almost 100% of the time to heat it just a few degrees.  This really worried us because the house has no insulation and only single pane windows, so we thought it would be almost impossible to heat the house on a really cold day or cool the house on a really hot day.

We decided to investigate this, and we found that the heat was acting very strange.  The heat would go off and then cold air would continue to blow for several minutes longer actually cooling the house.  This didn't make any sense.

After reading information online and reading the manuals for the HVAC systems, we realized that they were installed incorrectly.  The outdoor units were set to run the air conditioning and the indoor units were set to turn on the heating elements when the thermostat was set to heat.  Essentially, outdoor and indoor units were fighting each other, as one was cooling and the other was heating.  This put unnecessary stress on the systems and made them run almost 24 hours a day. We called our HVAC installer, and he fixed the problem.  Unfortunately, the compressor on one of the outdoor units failed.  We cannot say if the failure was due to this misconfiguration for sure, but it does seem likely.  The HVAC installer also replaced the outdoor unit that failed.

We were nervous that the systems were damaged due to this misconfiguration, so we negotiated a 2 year no charge warranty with our HVAC installer.

Since this was fixed, both the heat and air condition work well and easily heat and cool the house.  Even with no insulation and single pane windows, we are able to have the modern comforts of central heat and air conditioning.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Electrical / Hot Water Heater Problems

The lights fixtures are installed, and the plumber has installed the hot water heaters.  We should be able to get hot water in our sink.  The prospect of hot water was very exciting, as we never had it in this house before.  When we turned on the hot water heaters, only warm water came out.  The water temperature was only a little warmer than tap water.  We also noticed the the lights were flickering every time we turned on one of the hot water heaters.  We initially had warned the electrician that we though the old wires could not handle the new electrical panels, but we were told not to worry about it.  This is not good; the wires that delivered electricity to the house were too small and could not handle even one of the hot water heaters. 

It turned out that the wires coming into the house from the electric pole were too small to meet the needs of the modern electrical panels that we had installed.  We called the electric company and requested larger wires to serve our newly rewired duplex. The electric company investigated and decided we needed a new transformer and a new larger electric pole was necessary for the transformer.  They had turn off the electricity to the block while the work was done.

New electric pole waiting for installation

New electric pole and transformer installed

Although we still don't think the new wires are large enough, we'll have to wait until we get the rest of the duplex completed and the appliances installed to really test it out.

After the new electric pole and transformer was installed, the hot water heaters still didn't work that well.  We had to call customer support and troubleshoot the hot water heaters. We found out that the wires were screwed on too tightly and caused the contacts to bend and not to give power to some of the heating elements.  Only one out of the three stages was effected by this, and this made it harder to figure out what was happening.  Once this was resolved, we got hot water!

The little hot water heater that caused so much trouble

Friday, May 13, 2011

Light Fixtures Installed

Finally the drywall is done, so we can move onto to the light fixtures.  The electrician is mostly done with rewiring the house; he has been taking a very long time.

We decided to use very cheap lights temporarily for some of the light fixtures, while the contractors are still working.  We don't want to use the antique light fixtures that we purchased on eBay just to have them damaged.  Those will be installed once we finish the floors and paint, so that will be some time in the future.  There is a lot more work to do before then.

Its very exciting to actually flip a switch to turn on a light.  It took a very long time to get to this point.  We don't take this luxury for granted anymore.

Living room ceiling fan, recessed lights, and new smoke detector
Ceiling fans for the high upstairs ceilings
Ceiling fans for the shorter ceilings downstairs

Working hallway lights
Working front porch lights!