Air Conditioning: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Since the dawn of home owning and renting time, American houses have come to know the weekend project(s).  Regardless of the style of house or year of construction, at some point something will be in need of repair, replacement, renovation or remodel.  That time came once again last week here at Places In The Home.  The original air conditioning system in our fifty year old ranch style house finally bit the dust last week.  It had a good life and provided hours of cold in the summer and warm in the winter air. Dave the Builder lined up the new system and the crew to work on Saturday, I stocked up on bottled water, sports drinks and cooling towels, and we were off to the races.

P-AmericanHouses_FPOPop Chart Lab  ~  Click on image to enlarge

Sometimes you have to go through the ugly to get to the beauty of the sweet, sweet cold air on the other end of the air conditioning project.

air-conditioning-unit

If I had a nickel for every “we did just fine without air conditioning back in the good old days” comment my mother made during the central air install project this past weekend, I would be paying cash in all nickels for a new Nest thermostat.  The subject of the good old days was immediately dropped as the first blast of cold air circulated around the room.  My mother was the Road Runner to Dave the Builder’s Wile E. Coyote getting to the nearest vent blowing cold air, a feature of little to no presence in the main living and kitchen area of Places In The Home for the biggest part of last week.

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You could hear the call to turn the thermostat to arctic and let the cooling down begin a mile away!  I don’t believe I am in the minority here when I say there is nothing good about any day past, present or future when it comes to being hot.

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Old School Ragz on Ebay

My thoughts and prayers honestly do go out to the men and women who work outdoors in oppressive temperatures and heat indexes best described as dangerous. Dave the Builder hits the door some evenings after a 12+ hour workday in the Louisiana summer sun and humidity drained of all energy and will. Air conditioning plays a huge role in our lives, both at work and at home.

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“We’ll make that into a sitting room where we can sit and talk… and the breeze can get at us.”

That line from the movie Giant makes me wonder how people lived without air conditioning?   Dust storms, tumbleweeds and brutal heat set the story of life on a Texas ranch in the 1920s.  I would need a don’t talk to me I’m dying from this heat sitting room.  Whenever I watch Giant and other classic films and television shows that show life and homes without air conditioning,  I thank the conditioned air gods for Willis Carrier, the inventor of the first modern air-conditioning system.  Bless the heart of this brilliant, brilliant man!  Before Mr. Carrier’s invention however, the masses depended upon commercial and residential design features of the times to promote airflow and cross ventilation.

Large porches

Screened sleeping porches, winding wraparound porches and deep eaves and awnings accommodated shade seekers, porch sitters and night sleepers from the harsh direct sunlight and heat of the day and gave protection from mosquitoes at night.  Porch sitting and sippin’ in the late afternoon and after dinner (supper) was as much about letting the breeze get at you as it was an exercise in proper digestion.

LB-2015

Transom

A transom window proved crucial to upper air flow.  Found above doors, a transom moved the warm air hovering at ceiling level to the higher floors or large open windows.  Opening windows and doors at opposite ends of center halls allowed air to flow between areas of the house.

transom-window-above-doorBetter Homes and Gardens

My brother removed all the working transoms and hardware from above the doors throughout his house during the initial renovation and restoration of his 1903 Victorian home.  The transoms in his first house, a Victorian one story built in 1910, never worked properly and the hardware proved difficult at best to operate.  The point of this explanation and pictorial example is to illustrate the architectural measures taken in the construction of homes and the thought to comfort given to air flow routes in the days devoid of air conditioning.

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The long hot summer of 2015 has quite a few days and nights yet to go before relief is in sight.  Thanks to Willis Carrier, Dave the Builder’s HVAC skills and the local power company Places In The Home won’t be without air conditioning.  Remind me of this post if I dare complain about the cold of winter.

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