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The Home Front
I'm listing this under dumb and dumber in the inspectors journal. I recently inspected a condominium built in the late seventies and found two problems with HVAC.
A small fenced in yard was provided for each unit and the current owner had done extensive landscaping which included raising the grade several inches. The problem was they never raised the air conditioning unit when they raised the ground around it. They actually had built a pretty snazzy box with a lid and some air holes to keep the soil away and I'm sure they thought it was great.
Here's the problem. That air conditioner is actually a heat remover. It takes heat from inside the house drags it out side and blows air across it to remove some of that heat before it does this tricky compress and evaporate thing that makes it cold. Then it's sent off on its magical mystery tour back into the house. It just sort of loops around sending hot refrigerant out and bringing cold refrigerant in over and over and over. The result is a cool house.
So if you put the condenser in a box it about the same as putting your coffee in a thermos bottle. The hot stuff just stays hot, the efficiency is awful and the thing works way harder than it should.
The solution get rid of the box, raise the unit and be sure it has good free air circulation..This is a job for the pros and I'm guessing about two hundred bucks will also evaporate in the process.
Here's the dumber find. A high efficiency furnace was installed in the late nineties. These things don't use the chimney they use a pair of plastic pipes to carry combustion air in to the furnace and the exhaust gases outside. Who ever installed this one ran the exhaust out but just hooked up a little sort of snorkel and took the intake air from the basement. I called someone smarter than myself , which as you know could have been any random number, and here's the straight skinny.
Is this dangerous? Not really. Is it stupid? Absolutely.
The unit is designed to burn most efficiently with combustion air between 0 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Warmer air from inside the basement is less dense and provides less oxygen thereby dropping efficiency about 10%. The client will burn another two hundred bucks on this one.