Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Two-Pipe High Rise

320 W Oakdale Chicago east Lakeview neighborhood

'Its hot when its hot and its not when its not'; thus is the tween-season conundrum of living in a MCM high rise. To be fair, 'autumn' in Chicago lasts about as long as it takes the Bears to slip below .500, i.e., not very long (simply insert Cubs analogy for 'spring'). But for those of us who live in 'two-pipe' climate regulated buildings, this often times means shivering nights under the flannel sheets in September, and ice packs & floor fans in May. For those of you not in the know, a two-pipe system is operated by the residential maintenance staff and is either set at 'Heat,' 'A/C,' or 'Neutral' for the entire building. Individual condo dwellers can only operate the 'blowers' in their respective units. This semi-annual ritual is generally precluded with colorful Xerox sheets of 8.5x11 paper taped onto the walls of elevators, hallways, and common areas with the following message:

The heating and cooling system, originally installed many decades ago, is not able to simultaneously provide both hot and cool air to residents. This system has limited ability to rapidly compensate for spikes in outdoor temperature. This limitation becomes very apparent during seasonal transitions, such as this, where temperatures may rise or drop dramatically. In order to anticipate and respond to these unusual climate conditions, we will continue to actively monitor the changing weather patterns and use the best professional advice available from onsite engineering staff and independent mechanical engineers.

In other words, our building is old as hell and 'Neutral' is the easiest way to appease the masses. Someone is always either too hot or too cold in a two-pipe dystopia. It's an urban fact.

Now to be honest, the system in my condo building has already been switched on 'Heat' for a month. The only reason I mention any of this is that it was 62 degrees yesterday (and too hot in the unit for my taste) but predicted to drop to 25 degrees by tomorrow (blower will be turned on high, for sure). Just felt it necessary to brush up on my Midwest weather whining. That's all.