Best solution for 1950s layout? air-conditioning? other?

jallyMay 19, 2013

Hi, I live in the NY burbs. I'd appreciate if some experts can offer advice upon referring to my below questions plus descriptive layout.

Note that I have two 50-pt. Amana dehumidifiers efficiently dehumidifying the basement since the mold nightmare of 2011, so the issues at hand are not basement-related. Also disregard the non-visible part of the layout, since the kitchen & east bedroom are resolved via kitchen AC.

also note - i forgot to indicate that the living room has a huge picture window, with narrow 20"wide double hungs built into either side of same. To the East of that huge pictureWindow there actually is room to build an AC into the wall, but i'm not sure the cool air would reach the middle back room?

Alternatively considering:
Would it make sense to buy a 30-pint? or 50-pint? dehumidifer and put it in the living room, near the doorway facing the rear-bedroom doorway, and then break my head finding a decent handyman to upgrade the wimpy plastic fan which a handyman built into the S.W. bedroom, to a strong-metal one capable of transferring the 5000-BTU air from the SouthWest bedroom to the Master Bedroom, via the wall?

And: Would placement in the Hall-Facing Doorway of LivingRoom pull out humid air from:
the Rear Bedroom
and the Living Room
and the SouthWest Bedroom?

If weather is in the 90s or more, would dehumidifier overheat, and would paint flake of house walls?

As for costs:
50 pt. dehumidifers (Amana or Generations) range between $200 to approx. $250.

Added Notes:

As you can see, air conditioners at rear of house are not easily an option (or are they??) due to either slider windows taking up wallspace, or else 20" maximum openings at the sliders in NW bedroom.

Also: The central-air which was installed in 1970s broke down approx. 3 years ago. Furthemore, it's just myself in the house now, all alone. Barely strength left after the huge headaches which this house (indoor/outdoor) and other life factors have imposed.

Finally, should I leave well enough alone & hope that that humid summer which caused the mold a few years ago was extremely freaky?

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Was the mold problem caused by a flood in the basement? Does water enter the basement after a heavy rain? I think this is the main source of the mold problem and not hot humid summer weather. The summer weather makes things worse, but I doubt this it is the cause of the problem.

Running two 50-pint humidifiers constantly is very expensive given the electric rates in NY. Have you looked into ways of keeping the basement dry?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 7:50AM
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I agree with mike_home. If you ran a Running two 50-pint humidifier constantly will be very very expensive. Finding the main source of the moisture in your basement and fixing that will end up saving you money in the long run because you will not have a continues expense for as long as you live there. If water is entering the basement during a heavy rain chances are you have a crack somewhere either in the foundation or perhaps a broken window seal.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 4:54PM
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As the two posts above show, there's not enough info to give you a definitive answer.

Still, I'll add a couple of further thoughts.

1) A single 5000 BTU AC is totally inadequate to cool the home, no matter how many fans you jerry rig.

2) The number of pints the dehumidifier can hold before you have to drain it is the wrong measure to use in judging its moisture removal capacity. Instead, check the unit's dehumidifying power. How many litres/pints can it remove from x cubic/square feet per day?

3) Get a humidity gauge so you can see just how much moisture there is in the basement air.

4) Keep all basement windows and vents closed.

This post was edited by worthy on Wed, May 22, 13 at 18:13

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 6:08PM
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There were definitely a zillion floods over the decades since the 50's, in various areas of the basement. That is, until about a decade ago, when finally something was done about it (i.e. trenches along front & back of house with crushed rock filling them, as well as gutter toppers along back of house to replace old gutters, as well as opening the circumference of the holes leading into the leaders, as well as plastic window wells.

And yes all the windows are closed and that's aside from the plastic window wells.

Additionally, last year I had tree trimming done of huge maples encroaching on the house (with roots digging in). Also the tree guy took down the worst huge tree which he said was undermining the S.W. side of house, though ironically, that's not where the worst of the flooding usually is. In fact, even though the gutter topper was put in only in the back (north side of house), regardless, the deepest flooding is usually in the N.W. basement room.

Anyway, all the above steps did alot to eliminate flooding in the basement, except in the absolute worst storms & hurricanes. for the dehumidifiers, there's no other choice. An expert had come, who said that either an expensive French drain would be required, or the next best would be a whole home dehumidifier. That too was very expensive, so I opted for two 50 pinters.

Now, to somewhat answer re: statistics:

Whenever the summer comes around with a humid vengeance (such as this past week), each of the 50-pt. dehumidifiers needs to be emptied every day. But at least the basement has breathable air these days.

One of the machines dehumidifies the basement rooms running all along the front of the house (measuring approx. 44' by 12.5'

The other machine dehumidifies the basement rooms running along the back of the house (also measuring approx. 44' by 12.5'

But I was asking questions about the ground level upper floor
(not the basement)
as per the original post

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 2:56AM
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Once the basement humidity is under control--and it sounds like it is--the upstairs should follow. After all, this is Long Island (?) or Jersey, not Bayou Country. Storm Sandy was a once (or twice) in a lifetime event.

Your air conditioning is inadequate to either cool or dehumidify an entire floor.

Sizing an Air Conditioner

Source:Energy Star

This post was edited by worthy on Thu, May 23, 13 at 10:32

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:30AM
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I hardly know where to start. A well-designed central air system will keep the house dry enough in hot. humid weather. So will some window units. The window units with a setting that allows you to cycle the blower with the compressor works better for humidity control than the ones that only keep the blower running continuously. Slowing the blower speed down helps too.

The problem comes when it is not so hot, and not so cold, but humid. That is especially so in a leaky house. You may well need a dehumidifier upstairs at times. At times it will make the rooms too hot so you may need to run the AC at the same time.

Your budget prevents you from installing a French drain and revamping the central AC? If that is the case, it rules out installing a mini split AC or two instead of window units as well.

I would think that installing another window unit would be a better solution than hiring someone to cut holes in your walls and put fans in them. Why is that not the case?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 10:33AM
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OK, first to worthy:
Believe it or not, statistics are one thing, but reality another. My cute little 5000 btu adequately cools the SW bedroom as well as the larger living room nearby. I sorta shiver when I go in there.
...The identical AC adequately cools both the SE kitchen, and even somewhat extending into the NE room where I sleep. Any cooler, and I'd get sickened, due to my health condition which causes me migraines and achiness in cold/dry temps. Which is why for me, a quite-distant 5000-btu set on high, is perfect. Furthermore, I have it on a Brinks timer, where it's on awhile, off awhile, on awhile, off awhile.

To Ionized & others:
Actually (as stated above) I had already had a handyman build a wall fan into the wall. Problem is, the current fan is cheap plastic and very weak. But if that cheapo fan were replaced with a high end one, it could circulate the AC air from SW b.r. into the NW master b.r. can it not?

Now, regarding the 10-by-10 north-facing b.r. which has stupid sliders all along the north wall.
So what to do about that?

So my question is, if I put a high-power AC into the wall in the spot where the attic-fan switch is (see pic of NW master b.r.)...
...would that reach down the narrow hall all the way to 10-by-10 north-room too, if I close the bathroom door?

In which case, the problem is solved.
Because I'd have one AC for SE kitchen & NE b.r. (works fine)
the other AC for SW b.r. & living room (works fine)
finally, a larger AC for Master b.r. & 10-by-10 north room
......with both bathroom doors closed (or need they be?

If you analyze my layout carefully, do you agree to that as a solution?

Would there be problems with putting the AC where the attic fan switch is? (The fixture has both the switch, and an outlet in it). Also, as you can see, that pitiful strip of wallspace is only 20 inches, so can an adequately powered AC be put in there, so as to reach the fairly distant 10-by-10 room down the hall?

Lastly, would Central AC be cheaper than running three ACs?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 3:05AM
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"Lastly, would Central AC be cheaper than running three ACs?"

It might be cheaper to run an efficient central unit than run all three ACs, but it is probably cheaper to run the individual units one or two at a time than run any central system cooling areas that you are not occupying.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 7:21PM
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Thanks for the info re: Central vs. other, but what about the rest of my questions? Will the 10x10 back room and NW master-bedroom require air conditioning, or can I risk not bothering? I'm tempted to risk it, now that dehumidifiers are downstairs.

But assume I can somehow squeeze in an AC where the attic fan switch in Master BR is...
...would it reach all the way down the narrow hall and into the 10 x 10 room?

Or assume I put JUST TWO high power ACs
(1) in Master bedroom (on West wall of house)
(2) in SW bedroom (also on West wall of house)

Will #1 reach all the way to kitch at East of house?
Will #2 reach all the way into NorthEast bedroom?

BTW, even with the 5000 BTU, I found that the SW room-plus-LivingRoom got so cold, that I switched it to Low-Cool which worked fine (Would High-Cool PLUS Digital Timer intermittently scheduled to switch off for 2-3 hours, six times throughout the AM & PM use less power than steady Low-Cool?) I also sometimes turn the kitch AC to LowCool (even though the result for the NE bedroom is way less cool), so as to relieve my stiff shoulder, dry-eyes, migraines & ears/nose/throat.

P.S. Sorry for the delay, I sometimes need to take long breaks from computer EMFs (the latest which set in, is infection in left ear. It still hasn't left, so while typing this, i'm wearing a hot pad on left ear kept in place with ear phones. Which is also part of why too-cold air-conditioning is lethal to me

This post was edited by jally on Sun, Jun 2, 13 at 18:07

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 6:05PM
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Someone posted a detailed cost analysis about cooling a whole home with window units. I don't have a link, but it was probably on or

They poster was an HVAC pro, IIRC.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 3:08PM
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