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Hosing Down the Library

And locating the mechanical units on the roof is always touted as the best solution. It's the one that requires the least imagination on the part of the designer.

For the owner, you're exchanging quick buck up front cost savings with long term costs such as lower efficiency (condenser units, like this one, at 137F incoming air are not amused); problematic and ignored maintenance, costly to repair premature damage to the roof; and if only once, someone has the misfortune to break his neck climbing up the roof to go look at the unit, your quick buck will indeed have cost you a fortune.

Why not plan nice mechanical rooms for everyone to see. Don't we all enjoy the sight of a hard working compressor? I do.


  • Dave Ewald
    Dave Ewald Member Posts: 36
    Hosing Down the Library

    Odd goings-on in Norristown, PA. Excessive heat temporarily closed the library, see link for their emergency low-tech solution:

  • Fred Campbell
    Fred Campbell Member Posts: 80

    Christian, without delving deep into other posts, I think it was you who expounded on inadequacies and folly of rooftop units. Without repeating, WELL SAID!! Anyone who has ever hooked up a set of gauges knows a condenser would most gladly rather live in a shaded northeast corner than in the middle of a scorching hot roof.
  • subcooler
    subcooler Member Posts: 140

    Rooftops 1st they separate the men from the boys. 2nd I always like the claim of a 12 seer RTU with 80% gas pack. Then when you look at the 1/2" insulation package it causes me to think yah rigghhtt.
  • Christian Egli_2
    Christian Egli_2 Member Posts: 812
    Labels never lie

    What? you don't believe the gas pack is 80% efficient? I do... in 137 degree weather... it is. Now if you want heat in the middle of a howling rooftop winter storm, well that's too bad because that's when the AC works best.

    You can't be too picky. After all, this is not steam heat.

    Tombig, I do complain about the roof top units, thanks for noticing. Oh the irony, what if some manufacturer decided to market a roof top steam boiler, what would I do then?
  • Dave Yates (GrandPAH)_1
    what you won't see on the nature channel

    HVAC mechanics being chased by angry bees while trying to remember to NOT run off the roof!

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
  • Plumdog_2
    Plumdog_2 Member Posts: 873
    pesky pigeons

    or the HVAC guy fed up with the pigeons. He goes up on the roof at 6 am with a shotgun and two boxes of shells; gets arrested for disturbing the peace.
  • Tim_33
    Tim_33 Member Posts: 83
    I can only

    speak on behalf of the designer that seldom gets to choose, but always gets to "just make it work". No one who has a clue has ever touted this as the best solution. I have to assume you employ some sarcasm from time to time ;)

    Modern, competitive rooftop units are disposable. However, try to explain any of this to an architect that would have to actually design a building to accomodate people AND the systems that make them comfortable, the building developer who sees only leasable square footage as $$$, or the contractor that bid the job low to get it and is looking to shave every cent, or even the library district with the choice between more minimal maintenance or keeping the lights on.
  • Christian Egli_2
    Christian Egli_2 Member Posts: 812
    How about a beige RTU with matching curtains

    You're absolutely right Tim, the love of rooftop units does not come from those who know anything about them. You pointed in the right direction and I think it is now ingrained into developers and real estate agents that mechanicals belong on the roof. Show most of these people a boiler room or such and they glance at it, snicker and say old junk, replace it with rooftops, or paint it beige. Sadly, I think owners believe them more than they do tradesmen or engineers, that's where there is perhaps a bit of lack of imagination or salesmanship. Like you said, the engineer is only there to save the buck, and the trades to install it at a loss, so that there still is a budget for curtains.

    This, I've always found most bizarre.

    Real estate agents and their whole industry do a tremendous job of teaching people what to do with their homes to make them more salable. They're at it in every TV blurb and the Sunday section in the paper. I admire their patience for doing all this and putting up with picky buyers.

    What does the advice consist of? Paint everything beige, install beige carpets, have decorators stage your home, plant flowers everywhere, etc... all items that are fluff and of little importance to the home and its intrinsic value compared to roof, foundations and mechanicals. It's the height of stupidity to not want to buy a home because of the curtains, or worse, to actually do.

    For the same difference, all this educational effort could be focused on teaching the buyer to look beyond personal decor and develop a critical thinking for those other issues I mentioned. If it's doable for carpets, it's doable for mechanicals. Home inspections only provide pass no pass assessments, nothing about better choices.

    It's the same thing in commercial buildings, perhaps even worse. We live in buildings that are designed and decorated to please the promoters for the time they have the property on the market, past that, the useful economic value of the item is gone. Time to bulldoze.

    Perhaps it's the sales model that is skewed. The customer comes in lying about the budget and about the free quotes fully expecting the salesperson to come up with a bag full of half meant promises. The lie cancels out the deceit and it all turns out perfect... or so.

    Why not go for a perfect relationship right from the start? Or am I just smearing myself in the soft tar that is melting on the hot roof?

    I do think this particular website is immensely helpful in that regard. Thanks HeatingHelp.

  • Jeff Lawrence_25
    Jeff Lawrence_25 Member Posts: 746
    It's been a couple of years

    We moved into a new (to us) place during spring break of 2005.

    We looked at a lot of houses. The biggest thing most of the agents comment on about my wife and I was regarding our attitude. We would look beyond the poor quality new carpet, the slap and go paint jobs, and the potpourri hiding other odors. We'd look at the major stuff and how the house would flow with what we wanted and needed. The new HVAC systems were sometimes hacked in (IMO) low quality equipment. The new water heater was a box store purchase with the compression hookups and no expansion tank or T&P drain.

    It still amazes me about some of the houses because the eye candy sellers would use to entice buyers while the real stuff, the things that would cost and possibly save money, wasa all but ignored.
  • Christian Egli_2
    Christian Egli_2 Member Posts: 812
    It's like you have a third eye on the forehead

    Well, three eyes are better than two and you kept yourself out of trouble by not buying the house where the real monsters live.

    Hopefully you left an impression with the agents you used. Cool.
  • Tim_33
    Tim_33 Member Posts: 83
    It's worse, actually

    in commecial buildings. The equipment, that is most often the first target of "value engineering" (which is neither a value NOR engineering) cuts, and ends up being in adequate to perform well enough to meet code ventilation on most instances, and be reasonably comfortable. So, as soon as the unit blows "cool" air and someone complains (and rightly so), the fan gets shut off and no continuos ventilation is provided. Samething applies to decent humidity control. The cheap single stage, 3 row DX coil most RTU's have are wholly inadequate to control humidity without over cooling. On an 85/85 (85 degF and 85%rh) day, which happens quite frequenlty in N.IL, every Chili's and the like is too cold, too humid or both (clammy).

    What's really bad, is when RTU's are too expensive and furnace/coil/condenser residential combo's are used in commercial applications.
  • [Deleted User]
    I'll repeat myself.

    A contractor who installs a rooftop unit should be condemned to service it, & its successors, for free, for as long as he lives. When he dies, the casket, w/ him in it, should be permanently affixed to the unit. He should never RIP.
  • mtfallsmikey
    mtfallsmikey Member Posts: 765
    Not the \"V\" word again!

    My 2 buildings (320k sq.ft total) are a model as to how value engineering should work! Low-ball condenser water treatment,ineffective sand filters,lots of light fixtures with junk ballasts, sloppy workmanship inside and out. And all for the bottom line. As long as it's making money, no one cares, but we have to live with the problems,forever trying to make silk out of a pig's ear!
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,796
    I have heard...

    .... that certain birds can't burp... seagulls, for example. How is this useful? Put alka-seltzer in bread and watch your problems fly away and die.

    I haven't ever had to try this out, but it seems like a pretty good way of getting rid of the birds without resorting to noisy means.

    However, PETA or the local constbulatory may still make a meal out of you if they figure out whodunnit. Thus, a professional pest control company is probably the best and most legal means of getting rid of pigeons.
This discussion has been closed.