The HVAC Dilemma That Almost Ruined My Design Dreams (Seriously!!)

Hey Hey!!!

Guys. The Merc reno is CRUISING. In my last video+post I mentioned that we had a HVAC saga to discuss. Are you ready to hear how it quite literally almost ruined all of my design plans?!

So lets start at the beginning. What is an HVAC system?! An HVAC system is your heating and air conditioning, it includes the actual units and all of the duct work and vents. Its wicked important (I don’t want to live without an AC do you?!) The Merc currently has a 5 ton gas pack unit installed on both sides of the building. We’re not worrying about unit #2 until phase 2 starts, so this post is all about the dilemma that we ran into with unit #1.

The unit itself is mounted on the roof close to the front of the building. When we bought the Merc, phase 1 had some exposed ductwork running in front of the massive support beam. Don’t get me wrong, I love exposed ducting, and we’re going to use it in phase 2, but for phase 1 we decided to put it up inside the ceiling.

That plan was quickly thwarted when the HVAC guys tried to make it happen. See the roof at the Merc looks a little bit like this:

There is plenty of space at the front of the building for ductwork, but about 1/2 way through the front section there is a massive beam that has just inches on either side of it for something to run through, and if that wasn’t bad enough, there is a block wall right where the roofline and ceiling pitch meet. so the only way to get to the other side of the wall (where the laundry, bathroom, and 3rd bedroom are) is to go through it or over it.

Our HVAC guys gave us 4 options for dealing with the situation.

Option 1 was to drop the ductwork and run it along the ceiling. You see this a lot in homes, especially in the basement. We had 2 options for this. 1 was to follow the path of the exposed ductwork that we’d already taken out, and go through the original hole that was in the wall.

This wasn’t great because it would cover the transoms that I LOVE, and its ugly.

The second dropped ceiling option was to run the duct through the bathroom (the room on the right of the above picture) and then through the hallway and an old window opening on the other side of the wall.

This opening is in the shower for the en suite bathroom, which means it would also have a dropped ceiling.

Option #2 that they presented us with was to use a split system. You typically see splits in apartment buildings or hotel rooms. Each unit is its own little system and there is a condenser on the roof. This was NEVER an option. While they are super efficient and great for customizing temps in each space, they are pretty horrendous looking.

Option #3 was a little creative. It was to take the ductwork outside of the building, run it along the roof, over the problem areas and then back down inside. This seemed like the most promising option. The issue is that it would be really expensive because you are taking the ductwork outside the insulated thermal envelope of the building, which means that it would need its own. IE framing, insulation, roofing, ALL THE THINGS. This option was coming in at $5000+ and no one was sure if it was quite up to code.

Option #4 was our solution. A pancake unit. Basically its a small HVAC unit that sits inside your ceiling. It acts at the intake and the condenser is outside on the roof. We put it in the little hallway by the bedroom and it will completely disappear. We weren’t planning on this expense and its an additional $3000 from what our original bid was but MAN ALIVE I’m happy that we had this option. It would have sucked to ruin our awesomely tall ceilings for something as hideous as ductwork.

The HVAC guys said that we would be able to hear it, but that they insulated it well so hopefully it will be minimal. I’ll definitely keep you guys posted about it!!

So I’m interested to know, would you guys have chosen the same option? Do you have one of these units in your life? Are they loud?! Don’t forget there is still time to send your time capsule picture in!!

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Author: Jeff Donaldsons

Good day everyone, I'm a family man who loves hanging out with friends & meeting new people. Family Friends and Coding Yeah!. I also love helping others.