Presidential Comfort: White House HVAC and Plumbing Facts

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No matter what party is in the White House, you can be sure there is always hot air circulating!   As we celebrate Presidents’ Day check out these fun facts about Heating, Cooling and Plumbing systems at the White House.

Did you know?

H20 to 1600

Running water was first piped into the White House in 1833. Before that, the first bathtubs in the White House were portable and made from tin. Bathwater was hauled inside in buckets. So much for a long soak in the tub!

Hot water made it to the first family’s second floor bathroom in 1853 under Franklin Pierce’s presidency.

Today there are 35 bathrooms in the White House!

Politicians Turn up the Heat

The White House was originally built on an East-West axis allowing for maximum use of the sun for lighting and heating.

A coal-fired furnace was used to heat the dining room during President John Adams’ time in the White House, but it was not replaced when the White House was destroyed in the War of 1812.

Installation of a gravity hot-air heating system began in 1840 and used a self-contained furnace with an inner firebox made of iron. Ducts carried the warm air only to some of the rooms in the White House.

President James K. Polk ordered an expansion of the system, but it wasn’t until President Abraham Lincoln that the White House had an expanded gas heating system.

In 2017, the White House upgraded its poorly-functioning HVAC system in the West Wing. Experts say it functioned like an 81-year-old system due to its usage demands and published reports put the upgrade at a cost of $1.9 million.

Cooler Heads Prevail

In 1881, Navy engineers were tasked with cooling the air and lowering humidity levels in the room where President James A. Garfield laid, shot by an assassin, according to historical accounts. Using an electric blower, engineers forced air through a box with screens soaked in icy water. The result was the early beginnings of central air conditioning.

President William Howard Taft built a screened porch on the roof of the White House to sleep in when his White House bedroom was too hot. President Woodrow Wilson set up his office under a tent in the corner of the Rose Garden to escape from sweltering DC summers.

It wasn’t until 1930 when Carrier Engineering Company installed a true central air-conditioning system.

A new HVAC system in the executive residence was completed in January 1999 with high-efficiency units as an effort to be more environmentally conscious in the White House.

The President may have an entire staff to keep his house in order, but  Apollo Home is your one company, one call away to help with your home’s plumbing, electrical or HVAC needs!  Apollo Home is pleased to be the leader in the Tri-State area for reliable service for your homes.

"Ernie & Mike did a superb job on my new furnace and A/C installation. Despite having more than a day’s work to do, they came in and stayed until the job was done. They were organized, efficient, and protected the rest of the house well. Got both furnace and A/C installed the same day. Ernie was courteous, informative, and clearly knew his job better than anyone I’ve encountered before. The units look so good guests now get The Tour of our new system. Apollo is clearly not a fly-by-night company. I would recommend them to anyone in need of a new furnace and/or A/C."
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"We scheduled an estimate AND a tune-up. We knew something was wrong with our furnace, but hoped we could make it through the rest of the season. Upon telling Bill what our furnace was doing, he warned us immediately what the possible outcome was going to be; a cracked heat exchanger. He watched the flames roll backward, tested carbon monoxide levels, which were so high they meter’s last reading was 5,600 before saying “high”. He immediately shut it down, tagged it, and explained that with levels that high and children in our home he wanted off right away. He continued his inspection and showed us via a camera that not only was it cracked in multiple places, but had holes all over it. He gave us a few options for repairing it; his knowledge as well as genuine concern was beneficial and refreshing. Luckily we also scheduled an estimator, Micah, to come too and we were able to get costs between repairing and replacing (with several options). We decided to replace with a much higher efficiency furnace and one sized properly to our home. Hands down, not only did they both provide us great service and knowledge, but without sounding dramatic, they may have saved our lives. This was our first time calling Apollo, but it won’t be our last."
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