The HVAC systems installed in buildings have to be appropriate for the premises and the occupants. When it comes to historic buildings, keeping as much of the existing historical architecture as possible is usually a requirement during the HVAC installation or upgrade process, creating several challenges. Let’s explore some of them.
Damage to Historic Collections or Features
Historic buildings don’t have the structural makeup that can bear the weight of today’s HVAC systems. Failure to plan for the additional weight of these systems, as well as the vibrations they can produce during regular operation, can lead to the weakening of or damage to structures. The accidental addition of moisture can also lead to the deterioration of woodwork, plaster, masonry, and fabrics.
Adding insulation to the walls of a building is an excellent way to improve energy efficiency. However, it’s tricky to add insulation to a historic building’s walls without damaging its exterior cladding or interior finishes.
Features like high ceilings and ornate grille covers add to the architectural value of older buildings. HVAC solutions may involve dropping ceilings and installing registers, grilles, and other modern heating and cooling equipment that may alter the appearance of the inside of the buildings.
Solutions to HVAC Challenges in Historic Buildings
There are several options you can consider to minimize the negative impact that HVAC solutions have on historical architecture. These include:
- Utilize existing shafts, closet space, and chases for air-distribution systems.
- Look for areas of the building where you can improve energy efficiency to reduce the size and amount of new heating and cooling equipment required.
- Install HVAC systems that are less likely to damage their surroundings, such as small-ducted systems and water systems like hydronic radiators.
- Monitor and control the interior levels of humidity in historic buildings.
- When possible, reuse the existing HVAC components, such as grille covers and radiators.
- Add insulation to the basement and attic rather than within the walls of an older building.
It’s crucial to assess historic spaces thoroughly to determine their needs and come up with solutions that help preserve their historical integrity. If you need more information on overcoming the HVAC challenges that historical architecture poses, contact Detmer and Sons, proudly serving the Dayton area with superior HVAC products and services.