Author Topic: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread  (Read 1084922 times)

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Harriet Jones

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7995 on: July 16, 2013, 08:54:26 PM »
I'm north of the border.  For me, it depends on where you live and how old your house is.

If you live in the country, your house may have an oil furnace or electric heat and hence, no central air (I don't think AC works with oil furnaces but I could be wrong).  If you have a propane furnace, I think you can get AC.  In the rural areas, there is no natural gas piping so it limits your options.

My suburban neighbourhood was built in the late 80's.  All the homes were originally built with electric baseboard heaters.  Only those of us whose homes have been converted to gas heat and had all the ducts installed will have central air, too.

My understanding is that the mass majority of homes now are built with a central heating system, where natural gas is available.

AC is available without natural gas or propane.  Electric units are quite effective, although perhaps not quite as energy efficient.

Sure, but they aren't really 'central' air because the house doesn't have ducts.  Unless the house has ducts, it isn't considered 'central heating' or 'central air', AFAIK.

I'm not sure what you mean by this.  We have oil heat and central air (electric heat pump), both of which use the ducts in the house, even though they're separate units.

Betelnut

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7996 on: July 16, 2013, 08:58:11 PM »
I'm north of the border.  For me, it depends on where you live and how old your house is.

If you live in the country, your house may have an oil furnace or electric heat and hence, no central air (I don't think AC works with oil furnaces but I could be wrong).  If you have a propane furnace, I think you can get AC.  In the rural areas, there is no natural gas piping so it limits your options.

My suburban neighbourhood was built in the late 80's.  All the homes were originally built with electric baseboard heaters.  Only those of us whose homes have been converted to gas heat and had all the ducts installed will have central air, too.

My understanding is that the mass majority of homes now are built with a central heating system, where natural gas is available.

AC is available without natural gas or propane.  Electric units are quite effective, although perhaps not quite as energy efficient.

Sure, but they aren't really 'central' air because the house doesn't have ducts.  Unless the house has ducts, it isn't considered 'central heating' or 'central air', AFAIK.

I'm not sure what you mean by this.  We have oil heat and central air (electric heat pump), both of which use the ducts in the house, even though they're separate units.

I have an oil furnace and electric AC--central.  They use the same ducts.
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Outdoor Girl

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7997 on: July 16, 2013, 08:58:46 PM »
Sorry, I didn't realize you were talking about duct work with an oil furnace.  Which corrects my assumption that you can't have central air with an oil furnace.
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Ontario

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7998 on: July 16, 2013, 10:15:03 PM »
I think one of the reasons you see more radiators and baseboard heaters up north than you do in the south is the humidity levels. Places that get really cold also get really, really dry in the winter. Combine cold air with most precipitation falling as snow, and you get a serious lack of humidity. Forced air heaters can exacerbate that issue, whereas baseboard heaters or radiators don't really have an effect on humidity.

It could also just be an older house/building thing. Ducts are necessary for central air and heat, and it doesn't seem like you can always retrofit them to older houses.

Outdoor Girl, I think that central a/c uses a different system than central heat (unless I'm just totally off base). In other words, the cooled or heated air flows through the same ducts, but the thing that cools the air is separate from the thing that heats it. My parents have central air and heat, so they have a furnace for the heat and a big honking a/c compressor unit thing next to the house for the a/c. So ultimately, the power source for your heat wouldn't necessarily matter to how you cool your house. Whether or not the heating system uses ducts would make a difference, though.


Liliane

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #7999 on: July 16, 2013, 10:29:49 PM »
Outdoor Girl, I think that central a/c uses a different system than central heat (unless I'm just totally off base). In other words, the cooled or heated air flows through the same ducts, but the thing that cools the air is separate from the thing that heats it. My parents have central air and heat, so they have a furnace for the heat and a big honking a/c compressor unit thing next to the house for the a/c. So ultimately, the power source for your heat wouldn't necessarily matter to how you cool your house. Whether or not the heating system uses ducts would make a difference, though.

I'm not entirely sure about that, actually! The outdoor AC unit is what COOLS the air, and vents the heat back outside, but in our house, both the AC and the heat are apparently forced into the house through the furnace. (It doesn't make much sense to me, but the furnace does come on when the AC unit kicks in, it just isn't generating heat.) Then again, our furnace also apparently incorporates a dehumidifier - we had to have it serviced for water in the motor because the drain tube was clogged - so maybe it's both in one, and I'm just confused!
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Outdoor Girl

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #8000 on: July 16, 2013, 10:37:19 PM »
Yes, my AC runs through the gas furnace.  But I didn't think that oil furnaces work the same way.

As for dry air, baseboard electric heaters are brutal for making the air dryer.  Growing up, we used a humidifier all winter long and a lot of body lotion.  The static electricity was killer; my brother and I use to have static fights.  You shuffle your sock feet around on the carpen and then touch the other person.  We could always work up quite a jolt!  With my forced air gas furnace, I can put a humidifier on it that will put the humidity back into the air.
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Coruscation

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #8001 on: July 16, 2013, 10:55:09 PM »
In Australia, we have the Hansard, which is a record of parliament sittings. Is there something similar in the US and if so, what is it called?

snowdragon

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #8002 on: July 16, 2013, 11:41:01 PM »
Outdoor Girl, I think that central a/c uses a different system than central heat (unless I'm just totally off base). In other words, the cooled or heated air flows through the same ducts, but the thing that cools the air is separate from the thing that heats it. My parents have central air and heat, so they have a furnace for the heat and a big honking a/c compressor unit thing next to the house for the a/c. So ultimately, the power source for your heat wouldn't necessarily matter to how you cool your house. Whether or not the heating system uses ducts would make a difference, though.

I'm not entirely sure about that, actually! The outdoor AC unit is what COOLS the air, and vents the heat back outside, but in our house, both the AC and the heat are apparently forced into the house through the furnace. (It doesn't make much sense to me, but the furnace does come on when the AC unit kicks in, it just isn't generating heat.) Then again, our furnace also apparently incorporates a dehumidifier - we had to have it serviced for water in the motor because the drain tube was clogged - so maybe it's both in one, and I'm just confused!

Mine, too.

JEsMom

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #8003 on: July 16, 2013, 11:48:58 PM »
In Australia, we have the Hansard, which is a record of parliament sittings. Is there something similar in the US and if so, what is it called?

The Congressional Record.

Virg

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #8004 on: July 17, 2013, 12:38:00 AM »
Liliane wrote:

"
I'm not entirely sure about that, actually! The outdoor AC unit is what COOLS the air, and vents the heat back outside, but in our house, both the AC and the heat are apparently forced into the house through the furnace. (It doesn't make much sense to me, but the furnace does come on when the AC unit kicks in, it just isn't generating heat.) Then again, our furnace also apparently incorporates a dehumidifier - we had to have it serviced for water in the motor because the drain tube was clogged - so maybe it's both in one, and I'm just confused!"

The issue you're having here is in seeing the furnace as the entire HVAC system, not just the heat generator.  In a system like yours, there are two units in the system.  One is the furnace, which makes heat, and the other is the A/C unit, which is a compression coil in the system and an external exchanger that sits outside.  As a side note, the exchanger doesn't cool the air (that's handled by the compression unit that's built into the system itself, inside the blower box), it gets rid of the heat that the compressor pulls out of the coils.  Both of those units share the blower and duct work.  So, the "furnace" doesn't come on when the A/C kicks in, the blower does, which blows the cold air around the ducts.  In the winter, the furnace does kick in to heat, and then the blower moves that heated air around the ducts.

Virg

Liliane

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #8005 on: July 17, 2013, 12:48:15 AM »
The issue you're having here is in seeing the furnace as the entire HVAC system, not just the heat generator.  In a system like yours, there are two units in the system.  One is the furnace, which makes heat, and the other is the A/C unit, which is a compression coil in the system and an external exchanger that sits outside.  As a side note, the exchanger doesn't cool the air (that's handled by the compression unit that's built into the system itself, inside the blower box), it gets rid of the heat that the compressor pulls out of the coils.  Both of those units share the blower and duct work.  So, the "furnace" doesn't come on when the A/C kicks in, the blower does, which blows the cold air around the ducts.  In the winter, the furnace does kick in to heat, and then the blower moves that heated air around the ducts.

Virg

Ah, alright. That does make more sense. Thank you for clarifying, Virg! I've never had experience with this kind of thing before. :)
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Coruscation

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #8006 on: July 17, 2013, 01:37:15 AM »
In Australia, we have the Hansard, which is a record of parliament sittings. Is there something similar in the US and if so, what is it called?

The Congressional Record.

Thank you :)

camlan

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #8007 on: July 17, 2013, 07:10:51 AM »
A little more on heating/air conditioning.

Here in New England, there are a substantial number of homes built before a/c. And even after a/c was invented, there was a perception that it wasn't necessary here, because it only gets warm enough to need it a few months of the year.

Add to that the fact that most older homes here have steam or hot water heat, involving radiators, and no duct work for a/c. So adding a/c means running duct work, which means cutting holes in floors, ceilings and walls. Pre-1950s homes tend to have plaster walls instead of drywall and plaster is a little trickier to patch than drywall.

Plus, in order not to have ductwork running up and down the corners of rooms, the ducts tend to be hidden in closets. But older homes have much smaller closets (my 1900 house has a 38"x14" closet in my bedroom), and people don't want to give up valuable closet space for a/c. All in all, adding a/c to an older house is expensive--not just the cost of the a/c unit and ducts, but the work and repair work needed to get the ducts where they need to go. A window unit is a lot simpler.

As for radiators, I love them. The homes I've been in with forced hot air heat are simply not as warm or comfortable in the winter. As soon as the furnace shuts off, the room is cold. I heat my house to 62 degrees in the winter and I'm fine with a sweater. At Christmas, my brother, who has forced hot air heat, turns the thermostat up to 65 degrees, because we all complain about how cold his house is. We're still freezing, even with sweaters, long johns and throws.

The best are the old cast iron radiators. They give out such a comforting heat, and the radiator stays warm for quite a while after the furnace shuts off, so you don't get the heat/cold cycle that you do with forced air. But the baseboard hot water radiators are, I think, much more energy efficient, even though I don't like them because they make it more difficult to place furniture in a room.

Newer houses, say from the 1980s on, do tend to have central a/c. This usually means that they have forced air, and the heating/cooling systems share the same duct work.

It would be a rare New England house that doesn't have some sort of central heating installed. The ones I can think of are summer homes and they simply aren't used in the winter. And there are frugal folks who heat mostly with wood stoves, but most of them tend to have some sort of central heating as a back-up. Most of the older houses, even if they were built without central heating, have had it retrofitted at some point.

My house has oil heat, which is pretty common in New England. But the old coal cellar is still in the basement, from the days when there was a coal furnace that needed to be tended to a couple of times a day. The pipes are probably original to the house, but the furnace has been changed out a few times.

Central air on the other hand, is mostly in the newer houses.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 07:17:03 AM by camlan »
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Nikko-chan

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #8008 on: July 17, 2013, 07:26:25 AM »
College Question:

As a bit of background: I went to CommunityCollege. When I signed up for CommunityCollege, I filled out an application, was told when classes started, and in fact, my acceptance letter came to my doorstep AFTER I had started classes! I am now trying to apply for BigCollege. I am assuming that bigger colleges have longer times to get in though they have said on their site they are taking applications for Summer and Fall 2013 Sems. and Spring 2014 Sems.

I am in a bit of a quandry here because in order to pay for school I need scholarships. All well and good, but should I apply for them even if I don't know if I am in or not? What happens if I get scholarships and I don't get in, what then?

RebeccainGA

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Re: The "This Might Be A Stupid Question, But...." Thread
« Reply #8009 on: July 17, 2013, 08:34:12 AM »
Girlie, yes, I've tried that. It really didn't seem to do much as I couldn't get the fan right up against the vent. I'm not kidding when I say the air dead-ends as soon as it comes out. I do have ceiling fans though, so that probably helps it circulate just a little and makes things less awful than they could be!
http://www.improvementscatalog.com/airflow-breeze-26-238482-3b-register-booster-fan/12874?redirect=y

Register booster fans. This one's for a floor register, but they make them for others. Cheap, easy, and will make things MUCH better.

No, I didn't move into a house with weirdly placed registers and have to figure this out. LOL