Mechanical systems, also known as heating/air conditioning (HVAC) systems are an important component of our homes. We rely on this system to keep us warm during the winter and as the seasons change, we expect the system to keep us cool during the summer. In those moments where that simple process fails us, we are all too quick to call in a professional for service and are ultimately left with a costly invoice to "bring our surroundings back to normal". Many older homes with hot water heating were built before air conditioning was invented. They are often comfortable in the winter, though utility bills keep growing. Meanwhile, they are usually uncomfortable during the summer because the retrofitted central air conditioning systems suffers from poor design. Even in newer homes, you may find that you need to turn up the volume of the TV when the HVAC system runs or that one or more rooms are uncomfortable during the heating or cooling season. The vast majority of homes with ducted heating and cooling experience a great deal of air leakage into and out of the return and supply ducts, with the result that your bills are much higher than they need to be.
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In this image, notice the boarded off window in the background. There is a flexible duct from a dryer leading out through it. There is also a significantly larger duct originating down at the floor and leading out through the window area. It is extremely likely that the larger ducting is connected to a down draft exhaust fan connected to a cook top in the kitchen above. The ducting from those downdraft exhaust fans is usually larger than ducting from updraft fans because the fans are more powerful and move more air. Those fans are usually rated in CFM (cubic feet per minute). The downdraft fans tend to be a bit leaky relative to air infiltration. That is why it is wise to periodically check how well the dampers on those seals.
Notice too that the larger exhaust fan duct travels under what appears to be an insulated hot water heating pipe. The insulation on that piping is of potential concern, given that the house and the hot water heating system is very old. That vintage insulation is usually found to be ACM (asbestos containing material).
The wood framing materials supporting the kitchen floor have been painted. That's a common method for deodorizing following a fire or smoke damage. In this case it may be that it has been painted to brighten the space since it is used to be for laundry and other routine tasks.