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January 19, 2012

New Heat Pump Installed in Mom’s 1950s Time Capsule Condo

By Sara In AZ

Well y’all, like I said before in my post about upgrading the electrical panel, not ALL vintage is good! We preserved everything that we could, but the fuse box and the heating/air conditioning unit just had to be replaced.

Here in Arizona we have a lot of what are called ‘Heat Pumps’. In kind of basic terms this means the unit is a combined heating and A/C unit, rather than a separate Air Conditioning unit and Furnace. I think Heat Pumps are popular here because our winters are generally milder. I believe I heard Heat Pumps do not operate well in very cold areas. We replaced Mom’s old unit with a Heat Pump.

The old unit actually had 3 different components. There was this section you see in the hall closet, which was the heating portion. The cooling portion of the unit was above the closet area in the attic and there was the fan outside.


Mom had an old Fraser-Johnston heat/air conditioning unit and the installers said they had not seen a unit this old in quite some time. I just know this unit HAD to be original, from 1959. I love the way those red letters are on the old unit!


I honestly felt kind of bad getting rid of it, but I figured a new unit would be A LOT safer and WAY more efficient.


Yeah, that was actually the way you installed the filter – just by cramming it in there.

Lord have mercy.


Here is a close-up of the old controls.


I knew we may be in for some trouble when the guy that came to turn on the gas refused to light the pilot light in the old unit to test it out.  He thought the unit really did not look safe and when Mike was in the attic he saw the A/C part was leaking a lot. That was pretty much when we decided to just get  a new Heat Pump.


Here we are on installation day, and there is the new Frigidaire fan outside.

                 100_1811       100_1812

And here it is, Mom’s brand new Frigidaire Heat Pump! We decided  to go with an all electric unit rather than use gas for the heat. It was just easier for Mom that way. And the little silver door on the bottom – that is where the filter goes ! No more cramming filters in! YAY!


This unit is a lot smaller than the old one too. This is actually the whole kit and caboodle right here in the closet (the fan is still outside)– the A/C and the heat are all contained in one area. We thought that was better than having half the unit in the attic, and easier when it needs to be serviced as well.


I think Mom is pretty excited to now have a reliable air conditioning and heating unit!

The renovation fun continues next Thursday y’all, when you get to see the disastrous mess we had the condo in for weeks!

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13 Responses to New Heat Pump Installed in Mom’s 1950s Time Capsule Condo

  1. Vickie Reply

    January 19, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    This looks exactly like the before & after in our 50’s home a while back. That’s definitely the original and while it was ready to be replaced, isn’t it a testament to how things were made then and now for them to have lasted as long as they did! Those days are over for sure. Can’t wait to see the next “mess” ;- ) Your mom’s so lucky to have you!


    • Sara In AZ Reply

      January 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      Awwww, thanks Vickie – we try to do our best for Mom, she deserves it! I know, that is what I thought as we were preparing for the new unit to come in – how awesome that the old unit actually lasted THAT long!!! I’m kind of embarrassed to show the “mess” pictures 😉 – but I just had to show everyone what the reno process was like for us!

  2. sablemable Reply

    January 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm


    We have a heat pump in our Florida home, so I am familiar with them. That old one looked B-A-D for sure!

    You are doing a great job helping Mom out!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      January 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks Sable!!!!!

      That’s right I forgot y’all had a place in Fla! You would totally have one there. The old one definitely had to go. 🙁

  3. Andrea Reply

    January 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    I had not heard of a heat pump before, that’s interesting. It’s most likely waaaaaaaay too cold here for them, though, so I am guessing that’s why!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      January 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      Yeah Andrea, I think it is probably to cold up where you are for the Heat Pump to be of any use. It would probably be running constantly trying to heat your house!

  4. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    January 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I love that it was aqua and red though, bless it’s heart. That filter cramming – oh mylanta!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      January 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      I know Eartha, those colors and the red lettering I just adored. The new unit is so……….beige. Oh well, I guess I can always paint it turquoise if I want to! 🙂 If Mom lets me anyway! hee!!!

  5. RetroRuth Reply

    January 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Uh – getting rid of vintage appliances is always hard, but you were right. In the end, safety and efficency must win out over asthetics, even for us die-hards. Filter cramming = Completely not safe

    Can’t wait to read more!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      January 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      I really did feel bad about getting rid of it, esp. since it had lasted SO long. I just knew it was the right thing to do though and I was sure it would totally fall apart the second my Mom moved in anyway! 🙂

  6. John Bachman Reply

    January 19, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Glad you changed it! I’m sure the old gas furnace did not have safety features that would cut off should you have a carbon monoxide leak.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      January 19, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks John! Actually, that is what we were most worried about – the gas heater. I think you are totally right about the safety features being important! Also, I saw where one lady online was discussing that she had a 40 year old Fraser-Johnston unit(Mom’s was 53 years old) and it had a cracked heat exchanger. Everyone told her to get rid of it pronto because it was very dangerous! I could just picture this being the case with Mom’s unit too. So yeah, I think we did the right thing!

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