Hit me with some heat!

No pictures this week…didn’t get much done. High was 105 degrees Saturday…I worked a bit in the morning. I had to cut some pecan tree limbs that were beginning to crowd the sidewalk.

It got hot fast.

Very hot outside, and much of our house is not “in air-conditioning” as one of my neighbors put it…we have enough tonnage installed to (maybe) cool about 4 rooms…only one of which I’m working on.

None of the new units are in yet…and no insulation is in yet.

Soon, it was siesta time! I went into the dining room (we’re using it as a bedroom, and it’s the only one we’re cooling unless we have guests or are working in another area), layed down on the bed (and, more importantly, in the AC breeze), and fell asleep.

Zonk.

hmmmmmmmmmmmmm….bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

*ping*

I needed a break anyway…my job’s been a bit stressful lately. There is only so much in one man to give.

Later, my Mom and my friend Mike came up to visit…we went out and ate outstanding Italian food, drank a bottle of wine courtesy of our very good friend Larry Algaier at Square Corner Artworks (thanks Larry!), and came home to eat a fruitata thing (a sweet/chocolated crusted custard pie-like thing with fresh fruit on top) we brought up just for the occasion. Happy Birthday Mike!

I cut in a couple more can lights in the sunroom in the afternoon…on a side note…there will be more light-bulbs JUST in the sunroom when I’m done, then were in the entire house as it was wired. Yeah, I’m an electrician. Ambient vs task vs mood/style lighting…I got some ‘O that going on…

I then installed a finished/rebuilt window sash set (my first!) in the upstairs Sunday morning before the upstairs got intolerable.

On the windows? Only 40-48 more to go…depending on how ya count ’em…something like 300 panes that need reglazed. Oy!

I’ve had some email (hey, that’s great! Somebody’s actually reading the website!) letting me know in no uncertain terms that I should only repair and restore the house…put it back as it was built. Apparently, for some folks (and they are somewhat bitter about it), things like insulation and modern heat/air/plumbing systems have no place in a house like this…afterall, “they knew what they were doing when they built it or it wouldn’t be still standing””.

I disagree. It’s a house. If it’s not loved and lived in, it will fall down. It must be usable, economical to manage, and comfortable.

A data point for those “no AC and no insulation” restorationists…there’s a reason many of these gorgeous houses stand abandoned and unoccupied until they fall down. With the windows open and venting as all those old time builders intended…measured temperature upstairs? 108 degrees. (104 in the un-conditioned downstairs). A breeze is not going to cool the house off much if that breeze is 105 degrees. Then there’s the heat warnings…which means it doesn’t go low enough at night to let the buildings cool off much. Hot. Yep. We’ve got some ‘O that here.

The upstairs of this house, as built, is not habitable for probably 6 months of our year. We’ll talk about heating and winter later.

108 degrees!

That’s deadly heat, especially with the east Texas humidity, and especially for infants and the aged. It’s easily and economically remedied by a bit if insulation, proper attic venting, and some efficient AC and heating systems.

Please walk in another man’s shoes (the sweat filled, melting ones) before making sweeping declarations about how these houses would be just fine if left as built. In this region anyway, you know not of what you speak.

Insulation and AC for me, and lots of both. This house will stand another couple hundred years if I repair what damage it has now and modernize it appropriately, and would fall down in a decade or so (or much less) of vacant neglect if I or somebody else did not (like the big green house down the street they bulldozed last week).

We will balance the modern systems (like indoor plumbing!) with a “Victorian Attitude”. No, I couldn’t find “old growth tight ringed hand milled beadboard”, but we did find beadboard that duplicates the look of what’s in the house.

I won’t be hanging the single bulb from the twisted wires in the center of the room as was common when wiring was installed in this house (and is still installed in many rooms of this house)…but our fixtures will be ornate and interesting. Plumbing? Heh…yeah, ours will be indoor! Anything after that is not period correct so the “Victorian” look is of our choosing.

No doubt we won’t please some with our choices, but others will rejoice with us for the ones that work out as intended.

On the “get rid of heat” front…I have one AC unit already here to install…it’s a mini split, SEER 20, one-ton that will service the sunroom and utility room and will replace one of the 30+ year old and very inefficient window units (the entire city goes dim when I fire up one of those monsters). I also need to insulate that area when I finish the wiring and plumbing. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be ready to run the new unit…at about the end of the summer.

Sigh.

Ah well. That’ll be one down anyway…and two rooms done…and we often need AC even in the winter here. We’ve run the AC and the heat on the same day on occasion! We went from 94 to 24 on one memorable day…but Texas weather is subject for another post (and many of you will have stories that beat mine anyway!)

More of these AC units are needed, as well as the insulation. I wish I could just buy it all and get it going…but alas…time and money. Time and money. There’s a budget to stick to…and another possible project looming on the horizon too (involves yet ANOTHER tower!), so it’s important we stick to the plan.

We have a strategy…and we’re following it…but sometimes looking at getting the entire house usable, the scope is a bit overwhelming. Not only that…the desire is to do something that shows NICE cosmetically is intense…but the infrastructure has to be in first (heat/cool/wiring/plumbing/insulation)…and that has to stick to the budget.

Ah well. Eyes on the prize (after I wipe the sweat out of them!)

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

About Daniel Meyer

Author. Adventurer. Electrician.
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One Response to Hit me with some heat!

  1. cruhnke says:

    Don’t let the restoration bigots get to you. Yes, it was hot back in Victorian ages. Yes, people lived with the heat in this old house — oops, is that a copyrighted phrase??? BUT, if they had had the opportunity to A/C the house don’t you think they would have? I wouldn’t bet against it! Not all those blocks of ice delivered by the ice man went into the ice box.

    Do try to preserve the “nature of the beast”. I’m sure you have that in your mind. As long as she continues to look like the Victorian Gentle Lady on the outside and tries to portray the Victorian aura on the inside, you are doing the right thing for a property that symbolizes our historic past. Now, how do you frame a 60″ HDTV to look like it has been there since 18-whenever???

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