Efficient air-conditioning upgrades in older apartment buildings
and more, owners of apartment complexes are facing a problem quite
common with older apartment buildings. Is it time to bring these
buildings up to modern standards? How much renovation and
modernization will be necessary to keep an acceptable rate of
occupancy? In particular, should air conditioning be installed?
Buildings of the
50's were, of course, designed with then-contemporary equipment and
features of the period. However, air conditioning was a rarity then.
Also, since energy was cheap, there were few energy-conservation
concerns; windows were single pane and most often heating systems
consisted of recessed hot-water convectors directly under the
windows. Through the years, energy costs have escalated and other
major maintenance problems have worsened. Windows in older buildings
are developing water leaks and exterior brick walls show the need
for refurbishing. In addition, as new air-conditioned buildings go
up, competition for tenants becomes stiffer.
costs of keeping current in the market
An apartment complex in a prestigious location can get top rental
rates if the owner can attract the kind of long-term, high-quality
tenant who is able to pay those rates, thus maintaining the owner's
return on investment. But as the building ages, decisions must be
made as to the level of maintenance/upgrading needed to hold those
tenants. Questions arise. Should the owner absorb those costs or
pass them on to tenants in the form of higher rentals? In each case,
what does that do to the return on investment? What degree of
renovation seems necessary?
is disruption. It seems that most of the tenants of these buildings
are older people, many of them women alone, who are long-term
residents. How quickly can such a job be done? How can interruption
to tenants' daily routines be held to a minimum?
The decision to accomplish a major building renovation, complete
with a new HVAC system, requires careful thought. Builders must be
convinced such a step will prove affordable and ultimately
building's floor plan is repetitive, with all similar apartments
stacked one above another, the choice for the air conditioning might
be two-pipe vertical fan-coil units designed and manufactured by The
Whalen Company. Such units are relatively easy to install with
minimal inconvenience to the tenants---core the floors, stack the
units, and conceal them with drywall.
Let us describe a typical makeover as suggested by The Whalen
Company. Work moves upward from the first floor. A schedule is given
to all tenants so they will know when and what to expect as the work
progresses in their residences. With effective coordination of
necessary tradesmen, total work time in each apartment can be kept
to just a few hours, helping to ensure that start-to-finish
intervals are brief and that completion dates are met on schedule.
The first step
is to establish in each apartment the exact location for the Whalen
units. They are usually installed in the bedrooms on a
bedroom/living room wall, with the return air, one cooling outlet,
and thermostat located in the living area. Depending on the
apartment layout, some units may be installed in the living room.
Cutting and drilling of interior surfaces
To facilitate the location and cutting of necessary wall openings,
the installing contractor may choose to develop some basic
templates. A water-cooled core drill is used to drill through
concrete floors. The water also helps keep down dust and is picked
up by a large shop vac. A worker in the apartment below catches the
plug and any water as the coring is finished. The core hole, if
large enough, will be used not only to connect the piping from one
unit to another but also to accommodate the electrical conduit and a
master TV cable.
Placing, piping, and connecting
After wall openings are cut and floors cored, a vertical fan-coil
unit is lifted into position, and the three piping connections are
then made to the unit in the apartment directly underneath. Each is
carefully plumbed so that the drywall installers will have minimal
cutting to do. After the riser piping joints are sweated and the
electrical connections made, the remaining space in the core hold is
insulated to meet local fire code requirements.
neatly and efficiently
Whalen units are normally finished with just two pieces of drywall,
cut to size in the hallways to keep dirt out of the apartments. Then
painters, matching individual apartment colors, move in to finish
the job. The basic but highly effective 2-pipe heating/cooling unit
offers simplistic operating characteristics: energy efficient PSC
motor, preferred fan cycle control, low maintenance, and no
troublesome motorized valves.
The use of Whalen vertical fan-coil units enables the installation
of a heating and cooling system at low cost with quick installation
time and minimal disruption to the residents. With the help of this
product, previously outdated buildings are brought up to standard
and able to sustain an improved occupancy rate.