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March 02, 2005

to duct or not to duct? that is the question.

i've met with three contractors so far, and the big controversy seems to be.... ducts.

my ducts are perfectly good. they are not rusty and they are the right size. they could probably stand to be cleaned... on that, everyone agrees. do they need to be insulated? probably, although not everyone feels strongly about that. they are mostly in my basement, which means that some of the heat they lose is reclaimed by the house.

there is one contractor who wants to remove the old ducts and put in new, flexible, insulated ducts. the advantages are that i'll get better hot air out of my vents upstairs, they will be clean and leak-free, and he will be free to design new routing and to really rework the whole ducting scheme in a way that should heat the house more evenly. he has proposed installing a new, central return in the house and changing all of my existing, small returns to outlets. i like that idea a lot, except that cutting a hole in a floor or wall is giving me the wiggins. i also love the idea of clean, new, correct ducting. and finally, i think that new ducting could even help sell the house in the future... it's a very showy way of showing a buyer that the house has been well maintained and modernized.

the down side that i know of already is that i've gotta send a lot of perfectly good galvanized ducting to the landfill. and i just hate that idea. i may also find that his prices are higher... that, i don't know yet. i have his prices, and they are fixed regardless of how we design the ducting. and he is willing to negotiate a little on the prices as well. so we'll see.

another contractor didn't mention putting in new ducting. in fact, the only major change to the ducting that he suggested was adding a second register in my bedroom where i tend to have cold spots. i don't know if his quote will include insulating the ducting or anything like that. we'll see. cleaning it would be an add-on cost to whatever he quotes me.

the third contractor, who i met this morning, did want to put in a central return, did like the idea of cleaning the ducts, was vague about insulating them, and didn't think they needed to be replaced. he turned his nose up at the idea of turning all the returns into registers. nevertheless, i have this feeling that his quote is going to come back on the high end. we shall see.

oh, so very exciting.

in the meantime, although my stopgap solutions are serving me pretty well, it is nevertheless stressful to live without central heat during such cold weather. i tend to not want to work in the kitchen or do laundry, and i have to be sure i'll be home for a while if i start a fire in the fireplace.

even if i can decide which contractor to go with by the end of the week, it'll be another week before they start the install unless i get lucky and they have a cancellation.


on the up side, i get spacepod back tonight, and it's not going to cost me an arm and five legs like it usually does. still, his battery is going bad, and it's still under warranty so i have to go back to sears and make a warranty claim and get it replaced. his tires are just awful and i have to choose new tires which is a confusing proposition. and his windshield wipers need replacing. at least that's cheap and easy for me to handle myself.

mostly i just want a good night's sleep in a warm house.

Posted by lisa at March 02, 2005 12:59 PM | TrackBack


Hey - it's just like the old tobacco barn days in Mebane! How are you (besides cold)? I sent an email to you at your address on your spacepod site, I think it was. Don't know if that's one you don't check, or what, but I would love to hear from you.

Posted by: Angela on March 7, 2005 05:37 PM

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ok, so a) your comment won't post right away because i have to approve it first and b) you might get a server error but your comment probably posted anyway and c) previewing doesn't work so i've removed the preview button.


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