Usually I will drive a long ways in 90 plus temperatures with the windows down before I give into the air conditioner. Today was not one of those days. Yes, it was 90 plus degrees, and I gave in to the A.C. about 5 miles down the road.
The home I am visiting today is a double wide manufactured home constructed in 1974. Just by driving by this home, with the A.C. on in the car, I can guess the age of the home. There are certain construction materials that give away the age of a manufactured home built in the 70’s.
If it has the following, it is a manufactured home constructed in the 70”s:
Metal siding running vertically up and down the exterior walls.
Hundreds of screw heads visible as they attempt to hold the siding on.
Tall narrow louvre windows marking the location of the bathrooms.
Metal entrance door barely tall enough for a elf.
Metal skirting around the foundation that looks like it has seen duty in WWII
Add everything up, and you have a 1970’s manufactured home. Fortunately, someone has taken fairly good care of this home over the years.
Here again, there is a couple things that you can even spot from the street that indicates the home has had some TLC upgrades.
1. The roof is covered with newer metal roofing.
This update is very important to any home, but particularly important to a manufactured home. Allow moisture in the walls or the roof cavity and you are going to have a big job saving the structure of the home.
2. Some of the louvre windows have been replaced with newer vinyl windows. Louver windows crank open and look cool, but they are real energy wasters. Just try air sealing a louver window.
As I step up on the front porch, the CDX plywood sags and bounces like a trampoline. This plywood is the wrong material in the wrong place. It was not meant to be exposed to the weather. The whole porch is weather damaged way passed its lifetime and needs to be replaced before someone falls through. My guess is someone got a real good deal on some plywood.
There is a wood stove in the corner of the living room. A really nice wood stove, very efficient as wood stoves go. Looks like it was professionally installed because of the chimney box that goes up through the roof and the hearth pad and setbacks look correct.
The homeowner indicates they have heated the home with the wood stove the last 5 years. A couple electric space heaters sit in the back bedrooms as the wood heat does not travel into the bedrooms well. The electric furnace and heat pump have not been used in 5 years.
Wood for the stove is getting harder to get without paying the rising costs for the wood, so the homeowner is interested in using the heat pump again. This heat pump is one of the oldest ones I’ve seen in a while, it’s round with a smaller round cap sitting on top. Seems a raccoon has help himself to some of the wiring and most of the refrigerant line insulation.
A heating contractor has already visited this heat pump and declared it deceased. The unit is old and the electrical panel has had the cover panel removed and left for the further inspection of vermin. I hear raccoons like exploring heat pumps. Considering the old refrigerant it has in the lines, it would be a real challenge to get it going again.
The home has a Coleman furnace in a closet in the hallway - this I could have guessed. The furnace filter has not been changed in about 6 years and it definitely looks like it. Even though the furnace has not been working in 5 years, it still has a multi-year buildup of dust and lint on the filter. The heat pump coil in the furnace looks pretty good, not too dirty, fins are straight. With the installation of a new heat pump, the inside coil will need to be replaced also.
The trouble with firing up a furnace that has not worked in a number of years, is the gross problem of the dust, dirt, spiders, webs, and critter droppings that have collected in the heating ducts. Start the furnace up and the home will fill with dust like a gravel road ran down the middle of the home.
With the help of the homeowners, I put a list together of repair and replacement items that will make the home safer, more energy efficient, and add years to its life.
Replace the remaining louvre windows and single pane metal windows with vinyl double pane windows will make the home more airtight and add insulation value. Use windows with a casing flange around the outside so you don’t have to see the 60 or so screwheads that hold the window in if the window flange is visible.
Two of the vinyl windows have broken glass - one was a rock from the lawnmower. For these windows, just the glass will be changed. 7 windows $2,800.
2. Front Porch:
The rotten plywood has to go. The porch will be replaced with pressure treated lumber and duradeck. The porch deck is only 22 inches off the ground, so it doesn’t need handrails. The porch is 9 x 18, 162 sq.ft. about $2,916.
3. Heat Pump:
Remove existing heat pump and give to museum. Install a new heat pump with a capacity of 2.5 tons of air with a Seer efficiency of 14. Replace the thermostat with a digital, programmable model. Heat pump and thermostat about $3,200.
4. Heating Ducts
Often times the Heating Contractor will have duct cleaning equipment and will be able to clean the ducts along with installing a new heat pump. If the Heating Contractor does not have the equipment, chances are they know a duct cleaning contractor that they have worked with before and can make the arrangements. Duct cleaing, $400.
Total cost of this project will be around $9,316. The home will have energy efficient windows, an energy efficient heating and cooling system, a deck that will hold up for many years, and a clean duct system that won’t irritate a mild case of asthma.
All in all, the home has been upgraded, will be safer, easier to heat and cool, and will be more comfortable - sounds like a better place to grow old. It’s time to head home, I’m already in a sweat, no way I’m riding along with hot air blowing in my face. Roll the windows up and turn the A.C. on “get me cool.”
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