Thomas and Zilpah Ludlam House (ca. 1790)

Thomas and Zilpah Ludlam House (ca. 1790)
Thomas + Zilpah Ludlam House, ca. 1790

Sunday, December 11, 2011

our new Unico heat/AC system

Grace Energy's installers have been here two weeks now, running the duct work, installing the air handlers, and putting the Unichiller, a heat pump made by Unico, in place.  It's been fascinating to watch them fit into often-tight spots (in the very short attic under the original house particularly) to get everything where it needs to be.  Placing the outlets is don't want one over a bed, under an electric outlet, or in any other inconvient place.  For example, on the first floor you have to decide if you might ever want to place a piece of furniture later where the outlet is going today.  On the first floor, they drill holes in the flooring and insert 5" wide outlets (with a 2" wide hole in the center); on the second floor, the outlets are placed in the ceiling.

All of the outlets provided by Unico are a high-quality white plastic.  Now white works just fine on the second floor where the ceilings are painted white.  But white just doesn't make it against our antique pumpkin pine floor boards.  What to do??  I priced unfinished wood outlets on-line and they range from $37 to $78 each depending on the choice of wood.  That gets real pricey when you consider we have 18 floor outlets between the addition and the existing house.

I was told the outlets are paintable, so the guys gave me one to tinker with.  I've done false graining before, so I put down a base coat of yellow ochre (oil-based paint) and waited for it to dry.  Over that I used a  raw umber glaze, adding some streaks of Van Dyke brown and some Venetian Red since our pine floors have some red in them.  I worked these in with a dry brush, smudging and streaking as needed to create a wood-grain look.  This was done out in our workshop.  I'm really pleased with how it turned out and will be painting the rest once I'm sure the guys are done fussing with them.  I'll be able to match them more closely than the sample because I'll be painting them in place.

My false-grained cover looks a whole lot better than the white one against our pumpkin pine flooring!

This outlet is in the new kitchen and shows how the outlet tube is wrapped in insulation.  It will be pushed down into the crawl space and topped with an outlet cover.  The discs to the right are the holes cut out of the plywood on the first floor of the addition and the old floors in the existing house.  I guess they kept them in case we decide we need to move an outlet.

They can't finish until we move the existing kitchen into the addition because the new outlets need to go in places now covered by the refrigerator and the stove!