When it comes to historical buildings, HVAC installation is often required to meet two conditions: First off, the new system has to meet the needs of the people using the building. Secondly, the installation or upgrade process should preserve the historical architecture as much as possible. These requirements can clash and create several challenges for HVAC installers.
Some historical buildings have large, high ceiling spaces, which are significant to their architectural character. Lowering the ceiling heights during an HVAC upgrade will alter the appearance of the buildings. On the other hand, there are also buildings with low ceilings. These make it extremely challenging to add air handlers or ducts.
The Weight of New HVAC Systems
Historic buildings have structural systems that can’t withstand the weight of modern HVAC equipment. The additional weight can damage or weaken historical structures.
The Impact on Historic Finishes
Finishes like plaster walls and moldings are an important aspect of an historic building’s visual character. Some measures like the addition of insulation to the walls can easily damage the cladding and wall finishes.
What to Do About the Challenges
Some HVAC systems are easier to install without weakening or damaging historical architecture. These include:
- Water systems. These include hydronic radiators, radiant pipes, and fan coils. The pipes are significantly smaller than forced-air ducts.
- Small-duct systems. These use flexible tubing that is less damaging to the surroundings.
- Combination systems that use water heating as well as ductwork.
Installing these systems can help overcome the HVAC challenges posed by historic architecture. You could also look for areas to improve the historic building’s energy efficiency. This will help reduce the size of the new HVAC equipment that’s required. It’s also a good idea to insulate the basements and attics of historic buildings instead of doing so to their walls.
Learning the unique needs of historic buildings is necessary to avoid doing plenty of damage during HVAC installation. For more information on HVAC solutions for historical architecture, contact Aggressive Mechanical Contractors. We serve the heating and cooling needs of Monmouth and Ocean counties.