AC intake in basement, good idea?

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Old 03-18-06, 03:29 PM
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AC intake in basement, good idea?

I live in a relatively small one story house with an unfinished basement with central heating/AC.

The central heating works GREAT. Mostly because there are only two air intakes. Both upstairs and both at floor level.

Problem is...summer is coming up and the cooling is horrid in this house. With both the air returns and intakes located on the floor, hot air tends to rise and just gather upstairs. Our electric bill ends up being around 220$ in the middle of summer, because when its hot, the AC runs non stop and only serves to just keep the house from getting warmer...does very little in the way of cooling down. Being such a small house (between 1000-1200 sq ft upstairs) and living in northern Illinois, this is unacceptable.

By the way, its a brand new system, so nothing phycially wrong with the system.

So I am looking for a way to improve the cooling before summer hits. Without relocating the intake vents.

I also close the return vents in the basement during the summer.

So I had the idea of taking one of the maintence covers off the intake duct in the basement. I figured this would draw in the colder air from the basement (basement stays between 65-67 degrees year round for the most part). Hoping it would help the AC to run LESS.

Are there any unforseen problems in doing this? My only concern is that with colder air coming in to the intake, could it possibly freeze the cooling coils up (I really have no clue about this type of stuff, which is why I came here)?

It would seem to me at the very least, I could turn just the fan on and draw some of that cold air from the basement and circulate it through the upstairs and maybe the house would stay cooler without having to use the Ac itself.
 
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Old 03-18-06, 07:15 PM
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Lightbulb

Have you tried a couple of ceiling fans along with the AC? They will break up the hot stagnated air near the ceiling, forcing it downward. Thos will result in a uniform temperature throughout the room, and the breeze will have a cooling effect in itself, allowing you to turn the AC temp up slightly, thus saving $. Works great for me nearby in Southern WI.
By the way, you mention that it is a brand new system. Have you complained to the contractor who installed it?
 
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Old 03-18-06, 07:39 PM
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On what do you base the comment that there is nothing wrong with your new system.
If it cannot maintain proper temperatures and everything is working as when it was installed, I would say you could very well have a problem with it.

Removing the furnace cabinet door will not help.
Cooling requires more air volume than heating. The solution might be to increase the volume of air and to make sure your a/c unit has enough capacity.
You can increase the volume of air by adding a couple of outlets and more return on the main floor or maybe speeding up the fan.

Describe the details of your house such as size, relative insulation and window quality, number of people, furnace size and a/c capacity and maybe we can come up with more.
 
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Old 03-18-06, 09:53 PM
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The entire system isnt new, just the AC part.

Ducting is all old.

Wasnt talking about removing the door. Was talking about removing a small panel on the bottom side of the intake duct that is used for cleaning out the duct so it pulls in the cold air from the basement.

Yes, have a ceiling fan in the middle of the house. That part of the house when using the fan stays relatively cool, but the rest of the house is pretty warm.

As I said, house is relatively small...about 1000-1200 sq feet upstairs. Just two people living here. Insulation is very good (can warm the house up mid winter and turn the heating off and it stays warm for quite a while).

Two summers ago, the outside part of the AC went out and that is what is new. Inside stuff is all pretty old.

The entire system was obviously built to accomodate heating...which as I said, its does extremely well.
 
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Old 03-19-06, 02:46 PM
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why did you not replace the evap coil when you replaced the condenser? how old is the evap? that's like putting old tires on a brand new car.

that said...it sounds like you need a return grille located near the ceiling. you have to remove the heat from the ceiling. it really doesn't matter how much you pump in if your not removing the heat.
 
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Old 03-19-06, 07:37 PM
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Yeah, was afraid of that....guess I will look in to somehow getting an intake vent put in the ceiling.

As far as why I didnt replace the other parts. We had only bought the house a couple years before and had some sort of insurance on major appliances. The part that went out, outside were covered, inside stuff that wasnt "broken" wasnt. Money was and still is pretty tight, so just replaced the outside part.

Thank you very much for the quick replies guys, I appreciate it!
 
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Old 03-19-06, 09:29 PM
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You dont need to place a return in the ceiling, just near the ceiling. If you have flat grilles at the floor level, chances are you can use the same wall cavity and just cut in a high return on the wall. If not, its not difficult to locate a spot for a new return. Its much easier to cool a house than heat it so I would suspect something else is also going on here. That said, a high return for cooling is like gold to an installer. We actually celebrate when we find the best location for a high return because we know it means a great working system. Good luck.
 
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Old 03-20-06, 12:19 PM
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thermo is right...i meant a high return. ceiling.......wall.......... whatever.
 
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Old 04-12-06, 04:54 PM
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My late in-laws had a house in Idaho that was turned the wrong way so it got lots of sun in the AM and PM. No AC, but a full basement. The upstairs was miserably hot a lot of the time, while in the basement, it was cold, especially at night.
A decent size squirrel cage blower would have made a difference, just blowing that cold air upstairs. They never installed one, tho, even tho I sent them one.
If your basement air is colder than what you expect of the AC system, I see no reason not to mix the air. You might try the seperate fan thing as well. Have it supply one end of the house and return at the other end.
 
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Old 04-12-06, 08:00 PM
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Bill, it doesn't really matter how much air you dump into a space if you're not removing the heat.
 
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Old 04-12-06, 08:08 PM
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You don't have to remove the heat to lower the temperature, if you double the volume. If you circulate cold air from a basement to the main floor and back again, the heat is spread over twice the cubic feet of space, thus lowering the temperature. Simple physics, I think.
 
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Old 04-12-06, 08:15 PM
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no.....you have to remove the heat. i'm working in a hospital boiler room installing two 17,000 cfm exhaust fans to pull the heat out of the room. the package unit that feeds this room can't keep up. you have to remove the heat. that's why the have return air.

in the resi field 2 story house that don't have returns in each room are impossible to keep cool in the summer.
 
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Old 04-12-06, 08:18 PM
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now for the important question....what kinda Mopar?
 
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Old 04-12-06, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by tinner73
now for the important question....what kinda Mopar?
79 Volare wagon, original 318-4BBL, "earlier version" thermoquad, cop car wheels, rear axle (2.9 suregrip), 1.125 front sway bar, bigger front disc brakes from a late B body, performance built tranny (999 with low gear set from a D100), dakota rear springs, MP ignition and 1.0" rear sway bar, front bucket seats, sport mirrors, center console with floor shifter, from an Aspen SE. A 330 HP 360 with Magnum heads goes in as soon as I move to a non-emissions area. It is fun to drive, handles very well, and has beat up a few wannabe ricers at the freeway on-ramp racetrack, and at least one Ford truck that tried to pass me on the right. I'm old, and mean! That goes for the Volare as well.:mask:
 
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Old 04-12-06, 08:57 PM
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nice..i just sold my 73 duster 360 w904 and 3.91 sure-grip.

also owned.. a 70 roadrunner 383 pistol grip 4 speed dana60 4.10
..74 duster 340/ 727 with 3.91


no car like a Mopar.
 
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Old 04-12-06, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by tinner73
no.....you have to remove the heat. i'm working in a hospital boiler room installing two 17,000 cfm exhaust fans to pull the heat out of the room. the package unit that feeds this room can't keep up. you have to remove the heat. that's why the have return air.

in the resi field 2 story house that don't have returns in each room are impossible to keep cool in the summer.
Mix hot air and cold air (convection) and you get air that is not as hot, or cold, as the original seperate masses.....the heat is still there but spread over a larger volume, except where it leaks out of the system thru the bare basement walls and floor (conduction). The ideal gas law could probably be used here, but I don't want to break out the Physics book.
 
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Old 04-12-06, 10:08 PM
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AC intake in basement, good idea?

Why do you close the return vents in the basements? Open them and take advantage of the natural cooling of the earth and pick up the cool air and use it to reduce the load on the AC and get better cooling performance and more uniform temperatures.

If you have a modern furnace with a DC variable speed fan, you will have an even better environment at a much lower cost. even a system without a variable speed fan will work better.

I have a open split level home and saved on my AC operating cost when I got a new furnace (same AC compressor) with variable speed fan. Also much better humidity control.

Take advantage of the cool air below you. It will make the upper level more liveable.

Dick
 
 

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