Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ahhh! Cool Air!

     I don't care what the Lovecraft character said.  When it's hot outdoors, I like cool air. 

     The weather has turned disagreeably hot this past week.  Roseholme Cottage has air-conditioning sufficient to keep the place generally comfortable, but it also still has the original 1924 layout of registers and cold-air return.  By the evidence (glass-brick coal scuttle, marks of the old coal bin walls in the basement floor and on the joists overhead, the floor-footprint encircling the present furnace) back then, a coal-burning monster heated the place, possibly without even benefit of forced air and for cooling-- Well, there are plenty of windows.  There are plenty of registers, too: one per room.  In 1924, you didn't want to run supply ducts any farther than necessary and as a result, registers in the bedrooms are just one side of the doorway.  As a result, cooled or warmed air is pumped in...and promptly high-tails it down the hall, around a corner, and back into the return grille in the dining room!

     One fix for that is to head into the basement with ductwork, tin snips and chopsaw, proceeding to relocate the supply registers next to outside walls far away from the doorways -- but that takes time and money, not to mention moving a lot of furniture.  It's not that much trouble in the winter; warm air tarries at the ceiling and circulation is adequate.  Summertime, my room is okay, Tam decamps from her attic to the living room futon, but the office--!

     The office is toasty by mid-afternoon, sweltering by evening.  Two PCs, monitors and peripherals add their heat to the air and all the cold air goes out the door as soon as it arrives.  Something had to be done.
     This is "something."  Two feet tall, hastily-hacked, it makes a big difference in the room.  Throwing the cool air out and up, it turns over the air in the room, helping to push hot air out and providing a gentle breeze for the occupants.

     I have been muttering for years about buying a couple of the big cylindrical cardboard forms sold for pouring deck foundations and using them as elevated duct extensions -- but they are heavy, large and would be awkward. (Also, Huck the tomcat would climb them.  Madcap highjinks would ensue, endangering fragile items.)  This scaled-down version is doing the job so far.  Why didn't I try this sooner?

9 comments:

Bob said...

Looks like one of the old ventilators that you'd find on a ship, but working in reverse.

Anonymous said...

Fans help a lot. Or at least make it feel cooler even if it is not.
I live in a townhouse. The temperature difference between the two floors, especially at this time of year, is enough that if a thunderstorm or other meteorological event erupted on the staircase, I would not be surprised.
Kishnevi

armedlaughing said...

I remember the cool air...

gfa

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Nice job.

CGHill said...

And so far, no mention of duct tape. I marvel at everyone's restraint.

Roberta X said...

I marvel that Fuzzy Curmudgeon likes it -- he's done HVAC work at a very high level and this is some fairly primitive ad-hockery.

But it does work!

Rob K said...

You might try something similar with the cold air return to make the cold air take a longer trip.

Tam said...

Kishnevi,

There's a distinct thermocline on the attic stairs at Roseholme, and a lesser one on the basement flight.

Don M said...

I have a running argument with my roommate: I always set up the fan to blow the hot upstairs air out, and let the grass transpiration cooled air in the downstairs window. She sets up every fan to blow outside air in, adding the heat of the fan to it, and not considering where the air goes.

The electric bill is low enough because we don't actually use the air conditioner.