Cool­ing new rooms can be chal­leng­ing

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - Western Palm Beach County - James Dul­ley

Dear Jim: We added a room, but our cen­tral air con­di­tioner doesn’t cool it well. Our sec­ond floor mas­ter bed­room also does not stay cool. Does it make sense to in­stall a win­dow air con­di­tioner or a mini-split sys­tem? - Kyle F.

Dear Kyle: The cool­ing prob­lems you are hav­ing are not un­com­mon. This is par­tic­u­larly true for sec­ond-floor rooms. The cool air-con­di­tioned air is more dense than warm air, so it tends to drop to the first floor.

Also, sec­ond-floor ceil­ings are ex­posed to the hot un­der­side of the roof.

For both your new room ad­di­tion and your sec­ond-floor bed­room, in­stalling a mini- split air­con­di­tion­ing sys­tem is more ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive than a win­dow air con­di­tioner. The only draw­back is a mini-split sys­tem is more ex­pen­sive to in­stall ini­tially and can­not later be moved to a dif­fer­ent room.

I have a two-story house with a cen­tral heat pump. I re­cently in­stalled a LG Art Cool mini-split sys­tem for my mas­ter bed­room. I se­lected the smaller out­put 9,000- BTU model which has an ef­fi­ciency of SEER 28 and in­verter com­pres­sor tech­nol­ogy. My cen­tral heat pump is SEER 13, so my Art Cool model is twice as ef­fi­cient. I chose the heat pump ver­sion so it can also heat ef­fi­ciently dur­ing the win­ter.

A win­dow air con­di­tioner has all the com­po­nents - com­pres­sor, air cir­cu­la­tion fan, con­denser fan, etc. - in the cab­i­net in the win­dow.

Even though it is in­su­lated against heat flow and sound, it still is not ideal for good ef­fi­ciency. The new­est ones are fairly quiet, but can be an­noy­ing in a bed­room at night.

A mini-split sys­tem is very sim­i­lar to a cen­tral air con­di­tioner or heat pump with the con­denser fan, coils and com­pres­sor in an out­door unit.

Some mod­els al­low the out­door unit to be placed up to 100 feet from the room. This vir­tu­ally elim­i­nates noise from those com­po­nents get­ting in­doors at night.

In­stead of hav­ing the in­door cool­ing coil in a air duct sys­tem as with your ex­ist­ing cen­tral air con­di­tioner, the coil is mounted in a fan unit on the wall or ceil­ing of the room. It is con­nected to the out­door unit by re­frig­er­ant and elec­tric lines. Only a three-inch­di­am­e­ter hole needs to be cut through the wall. The con­den­sate drain goes out through the same hole.

Mini-split sys­tems can be used to air con­di­tion an en­tire house by in­stalling in­door wall units in sev­eral rooms. The cool air will cir­cu­late throughout the house. This is com­monly done in houses us­ing base­board elec­tric or hy­dronic heat which do not al­ready have a heat­ing duct sys­tem.

In ad­di­tion to the high SEER rat­ing, in­stalling a mini-split unit al­lows for zone cool­ing. For ex­am­ple, in my case, there is no need to keep the down­stairs cool all night when I am sleep­ing in the bed­room. My mini-split sys­tem al­lows me to set the cen­tral ther­mo­stat higher at night to save.

The in­verter com­pres­sor pro­vides for vari­able cool­ing out­put. Once the room cools down to the ther­mo­stat set­ting tem­per­a­ture, the in­verter com­pres­sor speed slows to keep the room at that tem­per­a­ture. The hand­held re­mote con­trol has many modes of op­er­a­tion in­clud­ing a de­hu­mid­i­fi­ca­tion set­ting.

Dear Jim: I need new sid­ing on one wall of my house. While the old sid­ing is off, I plan to in­stall foam sheath­ing. Is it im­por­tant the fol­low the nail­ing guide or can I use more nails to make it ex­tra strong? - Keith P.

Dear Keith: It is best to al­ways fol­low the man­u­fac­turer’s nail pat­tern guide un­less it is less than your lo­cal build­ing codes. Foam sheath­ing, al­though rigid, is not very strong so more nails than nec­es­sary does not cre­ate a stronger wall.

Ac­tu­ally, more nails can be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive be­cause each nail cre­ates a small ther­mal bridge from the in­te­rior to the ex­te­rior. By us­ing ex­ces­sive nails, the over­all in­su­la­tion value of the wall will be re­duced.

Q: We are hav­ing a hot dry sum­mer. What do we need to do to keep our trees and shrubs alive?

A: Trees are a very valu­able in­vest­ment in your land­scape and in your house’s value. Large old trees are hard to re­place and are the most valu­able. You know the value of the small trees be­cause you re­cently planted them, and I am sure you don’t want to re­place them ei­ther.

Smaller shrubs and lawns are more ex­pend­able, so don’t worry too much about them. Grass seed can be planted to fill in most dead spots for most lawns. Some lawns may need to be re­paired with sod.

Newly planted trees have root sys­tems that are just get­ting out of the hole. In just a few years, they grow to be sev­eral times far­ther from the trunk than the length of the branches.

Slowly al­low wa­ter to get deep into the soil. Use a tree-wa­ter­ing bag, a bucket or a milk jug with a hole in it — or a hose on a timer. The larger the area that is kept moist, the larger

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