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Air-conditioning in an apartment?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by Justitia, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. Justitia

    Justitia Elite Member
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    I live in what is ostensibly a luxury hi-rise apartment on the top floor of what is somewhat laughably called the penthouse. It is big, it is beautiful, it overlooks the city and the harbor. Despite all of its problems, I will never move unless I leave the city.

    The most serious problem is the air-conditioning. It i scentral air and it sucks. They have been promising to make it better for years; there have been marginal improvements --but this summer, with constant heatr advisories, has been unbearable. I work at home during the summer...and I have just felt lethargic all summer. Can't even sleep well at night.

    This building is 30 years old and has a very modern artistic design. Part of it is that window air-conditioners are impossible.

    So about 10 years ago I bought a portable de-hunidifier on sale, which helped a lot but now even with this heat, it can't deal with it. I empty the 3 gallon tray every day, sometimes twice a day. Plus the dehumidifier puts out its own heat which I cannot let escape through the window. So it stays in the bedroom competing with the pathetic central air conditioner.

    So I am considering buying either a new one or a portable airconditioner. I am hoping several things:

    1. That these things are now far more nergy efficient and that means they won't generate as much heat.

    2. Since I live on the top floor I picked up on how one can have the heat go through the ceiling. There is a pretty substantial space above the ceiling of my apartment and I am hoping I can let the hot air out there as there are openings in the ceiling above so they can access the central air, the plumbing, etc. and since heat rises, I figure the hot air will stay up there. It is not that much.

    I am hoping some of you homeowners and handy men out there might have some suggestions:

    a brand, air-cndtioner over dehumidifier, both, some tips...

    Whatever ... I am desparate. This is th emost unproductive summer I have had in many years and I am sure the heat is a contributing factor.
     
  2. Bluestreak

    Bluestreak Well-Known Member

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    Home Depot sells small, portable A/C units. All you have to have is have a way to vent it to the outdoors.

    We used to use them in our server rooms at the University of Central Florida when I was employed by the network administration team. We added one A/C unit to each server room to supplement the building's pathetic central A/C. We had problems with the servers crapping out because it would get so hot in the server rooms. The server that ran the telephone system was the biggest culprit. Every time the server room got too hot, the entire College of Engineering couldn't so much as call out for a pizza without a cell phone. With these supplemental A/C units running on full blast, the rooms were like meat lockers.

    But... to vent them to the outdoors, we had to get building maintenance to install special vents through to the roof, which, coincidentally, we got at Home Depot as well. I think the ducting and vent caps cost us about $50, the A/C units were around $350 each, if I remember. It was a pain, but we never had problems with the systems overheating again.

    I don't know how big your apartment is, but each server room was about 400 square feet and with one unit in each room, you needed ear muffs if you were going to spend more than ten minutes working on the servers.

    -R
     
  3. Justitia

    Justitia Elite Member
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    Thank you so much for the info. I am hoping when you said that you needed earmuffs when you worked in the server room, it was b/c it was too cold and not because it was to noisy (I don't why I wonder if ear muffs would be used to shut out noise.)

    The main problem is my bedroom which is about 13 ft x 18 ft (About 250 sq ft. Do these AC's have temparature controls?

    I just checked out the ceiling panel and there is about 18 " of sapce all accross between my ceiling and a concrete roof. I have no idea if there are vents out but it is somewhat warm up there. SO I think the hot air from the airconditioner could go there if it is not unlike my dehunidifier (or hopefully generating even less heat.) I would need the water to drop into a container like my dehumidfier does because I think if the hot air also contained mosture it would eventually come torest on the plaster ceiling and cause problems.


     
  4. JK2005

    JK2005 Well-Known Member

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    If you're planning to use them for one room only, the 'window' models are one of the cheapest AFAIK. I saw some selling for really cheap prices at my local Sams club.
     
  5. Bluestreak

    Bluestreak Well-Known Member

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    I assumed since she was in what amounts to a penthouse, she doesn't have anything except a door to a balcony, if that, or I'd suggest a window unit. I saw them at a local scratch-and-dent for $49, brand new.

    The portables are fully adjustable.

    -R
     
  6. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
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    The amount of space above you should be fine to vent a portable. Let me tell you about my portable, because I love it!

    I bought Sunpentown WA1230E from http://www.air-n-water.com. When I bought it this past May, I think it was mispriced because it was about $100.00 less than anywhere else. I paid $426.00 for it, but now I see that it's $549.00. I'd buy it again at $549!

    I love this thing: 12,000 BTU, uses less than 1,000 watts of electricity (that's with the compressor running - much less if just in "fan" mode"), has a timer, 2 fan speeds and even a remote control. The best thing is that it uses most of the water it pulls out of the air to help cool the compressor so you don't have to drain it very often.

    I have an awesome Trane Central Air system, but I like the bedroom VERY cold at night (helps me sleep better). Not only does the portable allow me to cool just the bedroom, it also does a great job of filtering the air. I've been using the portable to chill the bedroom down to 62-64 degrees at night. I've been running it every night for about the past month and I've NEVER needed to drain it! I'm sure if I didn't have central air and the indoor humity was higher I'd have to drain the water more often, but it seems very efficient to me. You can also run the water drain to a sink or whatever if you like.

    As you may know, I lost power for a total of 7 days last summer thanks to the hurricanes. It was miserable. This year I got a 5.5 KW generator (8,500 watt surge) from Amazon and had an electrician hardwire it to my home with a transfer switch. My generator can't handle running the central air, but it has enough juice to run my two refrigerators, lights, TV, computer room, DVD player, radio and this portable A/C unit. Now my wife, my dogs and I can relax and watch DVDs in our "comfort room" if the power goes out again this summer. That's originally why I got the portable, but I've discovered that I sleep so well with it that I've been using it every night!
     
  7. Justitia

    Justitia Elite Member
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    Your assumption is right, Roger...no way out my bedroom except through breaking a wall of glass (Floor to ceiling, wall to wall, essentially unopenable windows, with inadequate blinds to block out the city lights at night and the beating rising south-eastern sun in the morning.)
     
  8. Justitia

    Justitia Elite Member
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    Thanks so much for your suggestion, John....this looks like this is the way I might go.

    I just need to ask some more questions, because there is stuff I don't understand quite and I hve to worry about liability risk.

    The heat that goes out the vent in these portable air-conditioners, is it dry heat? The reason I ask is that if I vent it up to my ceiling, my ceiling is plaster board (if that is the right word, like what you hammer in large sheets on walls.) I think it is relatively thick for that type, but I don't want to cause it to come down. It has already collapsed in other parts of the apartment because the roof had major leak problems when I first moved in here and then one day, boom. It has also leaked in the bedroom but nothing came down, just ruined some stuff, not too expensive.

    I will have to probably install this myself and make it so I can remove it as well. If I officially ask permission, they will probably say no but the management is rather good at turning their eye at things I do as I am a very good tenent.

    The building is over 40 years old, it was one of the first high rises with Central Air/heat (they use the same system for both) and the mechanics of the building suck and are falling apart and have been for as long as I have been here. The current owner of the building (bought it about 10 years ago) had no idea in what bad shape it was in and way overpaid for the building.

    So the building has been in the red ever since, and they do everything they can to reduce costs. Like they put in the lease no responsibility for any damaged caused by building failure or even damage by their repairmen (like my apartment floods 2-3 times a year) but they nail you for full on any expensive costs if they can find some how you might have contributed to the problem.

    (I am not moving--I love the apartment--the building is slowly getting improved--the manager goes out of her way to treat me well under the circumstances --like keeping rent down.)

    So I need to be extra cautious. And though I have been reading about portable AC's, there some stuff I can't understand and I need to ask.

    When the unit you recommend cools, does it extract the water into a canister in the unit, which I can dump (or have a hose that will wind to my bath tub behind my bedroom), or does some of it go out the vent and then into the ceiling? I don't want the ceiling to fall down because of moisture. Above the space on top of my ceiling is the concrete roof, which is pretty solid as it was completely redone about 8 years ago. So nothing is getting out of there except whatever heat dissipates up there.

    I have two choices of places to put the vent, both in my ceiling. There are access panels in the ceiling right next to CAC vent that blows out the cool air from their system. Their vents are on the wall just below the ceiling. The intake vents are directly below on the wall just above the floor where the fans are that blow the air up. (Part of the problem is that the fans are puny small and the owner won't go to the expense of replacing them. At least not now. They did in the living room which helped a lot --but I don't spend much time there. Apparantly this system is one of the first Whalen units and they don't work well. Also there seems to be nothing that extracts any humidity out of the air . I bought a 2 gallon tank Emmerson dehumidfier on sale 10 years ago for the bedroom and during thsee hot humid days, I am emptying it twice a day.)

    So one of these access /vent/intake panels is right by the exterior "wall of glass "of my bedroom and the more powerful of the two. The other is on the back wall opposite the "wall of glass," rather weak in the air it pumps but right by the head of my bed. I, too, would love to get the temparature into the mid 60's at night. There is a dressing rooom & master bath right behind the back wall, where I would put a hose from the unit to drain if that seems best, though I would prefer to just empty a canistor regularly then have a hose winding through.

    So any thoughts, opinions...?

    This is the first time in 12 years, I feel like I might actually get a solution. :nod: :nod:

    The apartment is so unbearable in the summer, and I usually work at home during these summer months. And the heat here has been record-breaking year after year after year for some years now.

    Thanks, John and everyone else for your continued advice.

    I love these boards. It feels like a family to me..we can ask about anything!!! and get knowlegeable responses...!

    :tucool: :tucool: :tucool:
    Justitia


     
  9. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
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    The air that comes out of the vent is very warm, and very, very dry. Won't be an issue at all for you.

    The water that is not used to cool the compressor is collected inside the unit. When the internal water collection area fills to capacity the compressor will not run anymore until it is drained (as reported by the manual - I've never had to drain it). To drain the unit, you just unscrew a plug in the back and put a bowl or something under it to catch the water. It also comes with a small drain hose, which can apparently be extended (not included) to a sink or tub for continuous drainage.

    Hope this helps!
     
  10. Justitia

    Justitia Elite Member
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    Yes, and I found it on end of summer sale for $380 + $50 for shipping.

    http://store.priceground.com/su12poaircow3.html

    Do I have to worry about electricity? Can it plug into a regular walll outlet? The apartment has circuit breakers. When the dehunidifier, my steroe and my miele vacuum clear are all on, the circuit tends to blow. But differnt outlets in the room are on different lines. It's rather screwy wiring. I would probably plan to plug it in where the dehumidifier is now.

    Do you have a recommendation as to which end of the room I should put the exhaust hose, near the window or near the back wall?

    The particular site suggests in general for all portables not using an exhaust hose longer than the 5 ft it comes with. My ceilings are 8' high. I was wondering if you envisigag any problem with a longer exhaust hose or a problem with it going up to the ceiling rather than into the wall?

    I wiil of course call the manufacturer about all this, but I would value your personal opinion.

    :nod: :nod: :nod:
     
  11. John Stone

    John Stone Every day is Leg Day
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    Awesome price, way to shop! :tucool:

    1KW (1,000 watts) is really not a heavy load by any standard. An average coffee maker, for example, can consume close to (or over) that amount. If your circuit breaker trips on 1KW with nothing else loading that circuit, then you do indeed have some wiring/circuit issues that will need to be dealt with. You should ask your building superintendent or landlord which outlets are on the same circuit and plan your devices accordingly. I know next to nothing about electricity, but I do know 1KW is not a heavy load!

    I'd place the exhaust where the expelled air will have the least amount of restriction. Restricting the exhaust will not only make the unit less efficient at cooling, it will also shorten the life of the compressor.

    I don't think you'll have a problem extending the exhaust tube a bit more than the default 5 feet. If anything it will just make it a tad less efficient. You could even place the A/C up on something 3-4 feet above the floor, so that would solve your 5-foot exhaust problem and it would also give the water a downward path if you decide to use a drain hose.
     
  12. Arwes

    Arwes Well-Known Member

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    Posting to agree with John about that unit. :tu:

    Part of our building lost AC a few weeks ago and our techs put three of these things in wiring closet to try to keep things cool. It was quite cool in there despite a near 100 temp outside. I think over the course of my 12 hour shift, I only had to dump water out of one of the units and the others kept on going.
     
  13. Justitia

    Justitia Elite Member
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    Thanks you guys -- you've been way more than helpful....

    :nod: :nod: :nod: :cool: :tucool:
     
  14. Chadster

    Chadster Well-Known Member

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    Some other options for the long-term Justitia... I work for a large roofing contractor and the concrete roof deck you spoke of caught my eye. If the existing roof is black in color, the heat will absorb and eventially soak down through. Recommend that the landlord coat it with a light-colored coating (inexpensive procedure).

    Also, if you are on the top floor it would be VERY easy and relatively inexpensive, even with a concrete roof deck, to have a contractor install a dedicated roof-top unit for your apartment. Probably around $5,000 depending on where you live. I would sit down with the landlord and try to negotiate something long-term.


     
  15. Justitia

    Justitia Elite Member
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    Thanks for your suggestions. I did the roof-top unit route with the previous manager of the building. But I would have to pay for the whole thing. The estimate came in at about $7500, which I wasn't about to pay for a place I was renting. If I had known about the portables back then (this was about 8 or 9 years ago), I would have definitely done that, as he was willing to pay for any labor costs for installing, because he'd have his own maintainance crew do it.

    But since then the building owner has gone totally cheap while charging top of the market prices. Nothing gets dealt with until total failure and then it gets fixed rather then replaced, no matter how old, to only fail again. The only thing that gets any serious treatment are cosmetic things that help rent the place out because it looks so beautiful, people not knowing until they move in that the plumbing doesn't work properly, the air-conditioning completely sucks, their apartment is likely to flood once a year, etc. I could never get him to even install a portable now. He won't even authorize changes if I pay for them.

    About the white coat of paint...I've got to check that out. That's a great idea.

    Chadster, would you like to come by and help me install my portable air-conditioner when I get it? :D
     
  16. Chadster

    Chadster Well-Known Member

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    LOL I would be happy to but it sounds like John and Roger know what they are doing with the A/C. The company I work for has a lot of customers who are apartment building owners and it must be the same for all these people. I'm doing an estimate today for a building owner who told me his building has "not been good" to him because he's had to put so much money into it. I'll give him credit though, he is continuing to invest good money into it by doing the repairs and maintenance properly. Twenty years from now he will still have a nice building and I truly hope he can reap some profit from it.
     
  17. Justitia

    Justitia Elite Member
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    Well, I just talked to the head of maintanance in my building about installing the portable so it will exhaust into the ceiling. He said that he would prefer I do it out the window, which is extremely awkward for reasons to difficult to exlain. Suffice it to say there is on tine window that slides up in the middle of the wall of windows and it would cause the vertical blinds to fall open and then I woudl be kept awake by the lights of the city at night and the early morning sun.
    So he would raise about it with the manager.
     
  18. Chadster

    Chadster Well-Known Member

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    Do you have a vent fan in your bathroom by chance?

     
  19. Justitia

    Justitia Elite Member
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    Yes I do, but the bathroom is through a dressing room behind the bedroom. I think it would be very awkward to vent it that way. It woud need at least 15 ft of exhaust hosing if not more.

    If the venting was into the ceiling which is just topped by the roof of the building (about 2 feet above) and there is no vent to the outside (which I don't know, I just can't see up there), do you think it will be a problem if dry air is just sent up there. John didn't seem to think so. I assume it will just dissipate through the concrete roof, but at least not come down here.
     
  20. Chadster

    Chadster Well-Known Member

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    Give it a shot! Keep us posted!

     

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