The former owner of this house was a HVAC contractor who appeared to own their own business. I’m pretty sure about this because I have found their business related items around the house. Since the house was foreclosed on, i assume they went out of business. I have no idea if they installed the forced air heating unit in this house, but if they did I can see why they went out of business.
To start, the heater is a Frasier-Johnson brand, which doesn’t appear to be made anymore and when it was, it was a low end brand. This heater has a EnergyGuide rating of 80, and the lowest scale is 78. Pretty much the least efficient you can get. The main problem is with the filter configuration. Two filters sit in a “V” configuration above the heating unit, but there is no easy way to install the filters.
There is no access panel in the duct work to put them in. The only way I can figure to put the filters in is to push them up from inside the heating unit. I have to reach about 12 inches inside the heater, reach around motors, electronics and whatever where I’m left with about an inch of space to get the filters inside. From there they have to balance precariously on a few pieces of metal in the “V” configuration, where I can’t actually see how they are setting without getting down on my knees with a flashlight to look up inside the duct work. They aren’t sealed against the duct work and one of them keeps falling out of place leaving huge gaps.
I’m looking at possible ways to cut up the duct work above the heater so I can access the filter area. Doesn’t look easy though.
This was only the second summer I’ve lived in this house, and the second year I’ve ran the swamp cooler. I thought I was lucky to have a swamp cooler that sets on the ground instead of the roof. I expect to have some dirt get through the ducting, but i had quite a bit of it all summer long this year. I also found that the cooled air was making it out our under the concrete pad that the cooler is setting on. Summer is over, so i pulled off the swamp cooler to take a look. I found a huge mess.
The metal duct work is mostly rusted away. I would expect that the ducting would be incased in concrete, which it appears there was an attempt to do so. Except only 50% of the ducting had concrete surrounding it, the rest was up against dirt. Damp dirt, which led to the rusting and the mud which penetrated the ducting.
I pulled up the majority of rusted mess out. I allowed the pit to dry out then vacuumed up as much of the dirt with a shop vac as I could. I also found a layer of dirt in the 18 inch duct that leads to the main distribution center under the forced air heater. Thankfully that where the dirt stops.
I’ve got a huge mess to clean up. I’m going to need to talk to a HVAC contractor to see what can be done. Hopefully I can do most of it myself, but I will need some advice. I decided not to deal with it this fall, instead I sealed up the main 18 duct so the heated air wont get out this summer. I took a piece of foam and a piece of plywood, sized up to the wall where the inlet to the house is, and held them with some 2×4’s that I hammered into place.The foam compresses and seems to have a good seal. I filled any other holes with pieces of foam and some expanding foam.
If your interested in following the progress, you can view pictures at a flickr set.