Masterpiece Homes - Masterpiece Homes - Oxford model - built in 1998 - central air conditioning filter inconvenient to change

Posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2004 at 12:00am CST by 585b4170

Product: Oxford model - built in 1998

Company: Masterpiece Homes

Category: Building, Construction

central air conditioner vents

I live in Florida. I bought a home built by Masterpiece Homes from its original owner. The home, an "Oxford" model, was built in 1998.

Every month, I must change the air conditioner filters. The "genius" who designed the Oxford home put the return air vent (where the filter is located) in the top of the dining room ceiling.

I have to struggle with a very tall stepladder just to reach the vent.

It's hard enough to change now -- I don't know what I'm going to do when I get to be elderly; I suppose that someday I will fall off that ladder and break a hip or break my neck! Because it is in an inaccessible spot, up toward the peak of the slanted ceiling so that anyone who is less than eight feet tall would not be able to easily get to the return air vent where the filter is housed.

The fact that the dining room is near the kitchen, and the wall between the two rooms doesn't go up all the way to the ceiling (they have a cutout area for a plant shelf) also adds to the problem, as grease from cooking on the kitchen stove drifts up there to the return air vent's grill. I have to take the grill down and scrub every one of the louvres about twice a year because it is so greasy and dirty.

It is difficult to re-install the grill because of the strange latches used to fasten it to the ceiling. Last month, one of the latches wouldn't go back in and a whole corner of the grill was hanging down. I couldn't get it to go back like it should.

Today, once again, I had a problem changing the AC filter. This time I bent the grill and it wouldn't go back in. So I have a gaping hole in the ceiling of the formal dining room -- real attractive it's not!

I decided to replace the grill. It measures 17 1/2 inches by 26 1/2 inches and, like I said, has some hardware to fasten it to the opening.

Home Depot, Lowe's and a local distributor all looked at the grill and said it is not a standard size, they don't have it.

I also called the builder who referred me to the air conditioning company, Mid Florida Air, which installed this system. Neither has a grill and Mid Florida's parts manager said that the part is obsolete and has been for the last three years.

The distributor at the private company I went to said the hardware is so unusual even if he had a grill that size, it couldn't be attached. He suggested taking the whole vent out, putting in another grill and welding it to the ceiling. He's full of it: You can't weld something like that in place -- how could you change the filter?

Needless to say, I am furious!

Some people may trade cars every two or three years, but I would expect that things designed for a house would not become outdated and obsolete in a few years' time. Your house has to last you many, many years -- usually most of your lifetime! So, why didn't the architect, builder and AC company use standard sized features on the system? They knew that you're supposed to change the filters every 30 days, so why didn't they locate the vent, filter and grill in a place that is easily reachable?

I didn't know to check out where the AC return air vent was located when I bought this house. But, rest assured, the next house I buy will have this feature on the wall, preferably near the floor -- or I won't buy the house!

If you are in the market for a house, I strongly recommend that you find out where the return air vent is located, and do not accept the house if it is in a place where it would be difficult for you to change the AC filter.

Meanwhile, if anyone has any suggestions how to cover the gaping hole in my ceiling and how to fix something to hold in an AC filter, please let us know!

lynn b

1 Comment

robert w., 2013-03-23, 10:38AM CDT

Lynn B.,

The problems you are having with getting to the filter grille and the concerns you have of falling off a ladder is a real problem that had no solution until I patented a tool which I hope to have on the market soon provided I get some investors. This tool (rough prototype) can be seen on on page 14 under contact Robert. My contact information is also available on that site for any questions. I can make a rough working prototype which is more expensive than if it were being produced.

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