Check this off the “To Do” list… Central Air & Heat

California has some of the best weather year round… Our summers are never too hot. And our winters are never too cold. Which I guess is why a lot of older homes don’t have central heating and air conditioning… but unlike our predecessors from the 50’s and 60’s – We are millennials and need air conditioning to survive.

Now before you call me a big baby, let me remind everyone that California had an extreme heat wave last week and temperatures were 110+ which is unheard of here. Businesses were losing power, the outside looked like a ghost town with no one to be seen and it became a serious health risk to keep pets in extreme temperatures without proper cooling. Luckily I was able to be home to take our dog to Home Depot (to get some fresh air conditioning) and supervise him in his baby pool in the backyard to cool down!

Fast forward to this week – we start our next big home improvement project – (Drum Roll Please) Installing Central Air and Heat!

Day 1:

We have moved all of the furniture and wall hangings away from possible overhead vent additions, stowed all of our rugs to avoid unnecessary traffic and covered anything that may get dirty when we cut a ton of new holes into our ceiling. Luckily for us we have a highly rated and well recommended team coming in for the AC and Heating install – with a ton of equipment!

I don’t know what half of this stuff is, but it will live in my attic by the end of the week!
They keep unloading boxes, and pipes, and silver snakes with bad wrinkles…

We are removing the wall unit furnace from our main hallway and replacing it with a larger unit in the attic. Which means widening the attic entry to accommodate the new unit and removing the old furnace and patching the hole where it was. We got lucky and will be using the existing footprint of the furnace to run the heating and cooling lines from under the house to the overhead duct work. While the furnace is going to be in the attic we have to run the gas line from under the house through the wall and into the attic. We are placing the AC unit in the backyard between our exterior windows (with the plan to move it before the future addition) and will run that cooling line under the house and parallel to the heating line.

Make sure you do pressure tests on your gas lines if you are piggy backing a gas source!

And if you are a crazy person (like me) you’re going to want all of your vents to (#1) make sense for efficiency purposes and (#2) be as close to symmetrical and centered in any room. For us, we had to put the vents just off of the center of the rooms because of the overhead beam work and move the vents 8 inches from the wall because our roof slants down and the closer we got to the wall, the lower overhead space we had for the duct work.

This dude spent hours at a time in the attic prepping the space for the new furnace and laying the new duct work!
Cutting into drywall is one of the most annoying sounds on the planet – that partnered with the anxiety of people putting holes in your ceiling makes for a stressful day…
This vent was able to be placed in the center of the room – I figured, since this wall is shared with the garage and not the exterior where roof issues would dictate where the vent could be.

And for anyone that has ever done work on their home – just get use to your stomach dropping and feeling like you are going to throw up every time the crew ask you to take a look at something – because it generally means you are about to have to pay for something you didn’t even realize you needed – “Hey, Can you take a look at this pipe – its corroded and needs to be replaced.. It’s not bad, we only need your left lung and your first born child.”

This monster of a device took all afternoon to get into the attic then assemble. I will be so happy to have you when the temperature drops below 60!

Day 2:

Today we had to clear the foundation in the backyard for where the AC unit will live. We decided to place it between the windows in the back so we wouldn’t be able to see it from any of the back facing rooms – AC units aren’t exactly aesthetically pleasing. We will eventually knock out the back of the house – so this will be moved in the future so we aren’t loosing sleep over its location.

In addition to widening the attic entrance to accommodate the new furnace we had to create an intake vent as well. The hallway is the center of the house and has the most traffic so we decided to put the large vent there – we are excited to have this additional filtration in the home as it should help clear the air for our allergies!

Being a first time home owner, seeing large holes in your wall – partnered with holes in the ceiling and the floor is enough to make you want to puke… but I’m keeping my eye on the prize and understand that all of these steps are necessary for the ultimate goal.. I’ll be thrilled once they patch this hole in the hallway – even though I short enough to use this as a shortcut to the master bedroom.

Central air and heat installation literally takes over the entire house – since they have to put a vent in every room in the house! I am looking forward to putting the house back in order since it’s furniture and household items are stacked in every corner of the house and in the garage.

And if the holes in the ceilings, floor and walls weren’t enough.. I just realized we needed to drill a hole in the front of the house for drainage from the AC and Furnace – again, witnesses holes being cut or drilled into your newly purchases house isn’t good for my blood pressure. I found my self repeating “I am one with the force – the force is with me” for some reason – I figure if it could keep Chirruts safe from Stormtroopers it could keep me calm during the renovation (if you don’t get it, you probably don’t speak Wookie either).

Luckily for us, we were able to piggyback the gas line and the AC lines in the wall. I mentioned us using the exiting footprint a few times – damn it… Looking down the road I wish we would have moved the lines to a different wall because we will potentially knock out the wall these lines have been set-up in… You live – You learn. I should have trouble shot that a little better – but as is, this wont affect anything negatively for this step of the renovations.

Paint, Paint and Paint… Thank the Lord for touch up paint. We are lucky that we have kept extra paint on hand for ceiling, wall and exterior touch ups. Already we have ceiling spots that need to be updated, once the hole in the walls are patched – we are going to have to paint them and this ugly eye-sore in the backyard is going to need to be painted to match the other ugly eye-sores of electrical piping.

Just to give you a sense of how big our new intake vent is – I could easily fit into this box and could squeeze in the duct… if there were gummi bears waiting for me on the other end.

This large mental box is going to be my best friend if San Jose gets hit with another heat wave… But for now, I wish I knew a way to disguise this monstrosity since we have put so much energy into making the backyard comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.

Does anyone have ideas or experience with hiding AC units without blocking its ability to take in air?

Luckily we did do some trouble shooting when we picked out our AC unit – as I’ve mentioned before we are planning an addition in the future. So we made sure that the furnace was sufficient for the current space we have – AND is strong enough to heat and cool the potential addition in the future!

I can’t believe we are only wrapping up Day 2 of this project, i feel like we have been at it for weeks… Tomorrow should be the home stretch and I cannot wait to consider this project, DONE!