White House HVAC History - Call The General

A President’s Day Heating and Cooling History Lesson

Posted on February 19, 2017

Do you realize if you’re a baby boomer there’s a good chance the White House did NOT have central air conditioning when you were born? It wasn’t installed until a major renovation in 1952 during the Truman administration.

That little President’s Day factoid is just one example of the HVAC revolution we’ve seen in just a few decades. Just think how your quality of life and the comfort of your home has improved thanks to the work and knowledge of the professionals who work at General Air Conditioning and Plumbing.

Presidents tried everything they could think of to deal with the stifling summer heat in Washington in the days before central air. President Woodrow Wilson often worked in an open-air tent set up in the Rose Garden. The 27th president, William Howard Taft, had a screened-in porch built on the roof of the White House so he could sleep outdoors. Can you imagine the Secret Service dealing with THAT security risk in this day and age?

While central heat came to the White House much earlier, it still took nearly 50 years after construction started to start the process. The first central heat appeared in 1840 and at first it only heated rooms on the first floor and took several years to be expanded to the entire house.

When the country’s 2nd president, John Adams and his wife Abigail, moved into the new White House in 1800 they were dismayed to find there was no indoor plumbing. On the plus side, there was no need to call a plumber because outhouses meant there was no such thing as a clogged toilet. It wasn’t until 1833 that running water was introduced, mostly for drinking water and to fill reservoirs for fire protection.

Of course, those days are in the past. Today, the White House has 35 bathrooms among its 132 centrally heated and cooled rooms. There is a staff of plumbing and HVAC specialists at the beck and call of the First Family, as is befitting the leader of the free world.

We hope you enjoyed learning more about the history of cooling, heating, and plumbing in the White House for this Presidents’ Day. We want you to know that our goal at General Air Conditioning and Plumbing is to serve our customers in the Coachella Valley just as well as the White House staff serves the First Family.