Let’s be honest, HVAC systems aren’t the sexiest part of a home renovation (it’s hard to compete with marble countertops), but they’re essential to maintaining a comfortable climate. Whether adding square footage, finishing an unused space, or removing walls to rework an existing living area, HVAC planning ensures air will flow and systems will have enough horsepower to circulate through all the space.
Failing to plan properly is “equivalent to taking off one of your legs and still wanting to run a marathon,” says Todd Dawson, chief operating officer of Dawson Heating & Air Conditioning, a third-generation family-owned HVAC company in Avondale.
Founded in 1980 by patriarch Thaddaus Dawson—who, at 77, still makes service calls—the company today is helmed by Todd and his wife, Dora, along with their two adult children, Dionne and Micaiah, and four additional service members. Together, they specialize in HVAC planning for historic renovation projects in Over-the-Rhine, Walnut Hills, Avondale, Roselawn, and other neighborhoods where homes were built without heating and cooling technology or have experienced a hodgepodge of system installments over the decades. “Heating and cooling are essential to a renovation, because it’s taking the character of an old home to today’s standards,” Todd says.
Working as a family, as one might expect, has both perks and challenges. Generational gaps can (and have) led to friction over modernizing operations, but overall, Todd says, “It’s drawn us closer because we’re all in. We’re not the biggest; we’re just the best. That’s the model my dad had, and I carry that through.” When a customer calls on a Saturday night because they smell gas, for example, the Dawson team doesn’t hesitate to drop everything and pay a visit. It’s this commitment to “over-service,” Todd says, that builds customer loyalty.
Beyond temperature control, HVAC also plays a role in home air quality. Air purification systems have exploded in popularity during the pandemic, as people are spending more time in their homes and realizing the hazardous effects of stale recirculating air. Particularly for those with asthma and allergies, Todd recommends ionization varieties, which are self-contained, self-cleaning, can last five to eight years without maintenance, and are able to be installed at any time.
Before you dream of renovating, remodeling, or adding new spaces or start swinging sledgehammers, Todd suggests you consult an HVAC specialist for drawings and load calculations that factor in the delicate interplay of windows, doors, garages, and ceiling height. If the system is doing its job, you won’t even notice it’s there. If it isn’t, well, it’ll be hard to enjoy those new marble countertops with chattering teeth.