Older Home...warm upstairs...cold down.

Old 01-14-08, 10:41 PM
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Older Home...warm upstairs...cold down.

I just purchased an 1800 sq ft, 4 square home built in 1900. It has forced air (natural gas) and is single zone There are two cold air returns on first floor but none on the second. The first floor has 2 hot air vents in the 13 x 25 living room, 1 in the 12 x 12dining room, 1 in the kitchen (which is fairly large) and 1 in the mudroom off the kitchen. The upstairs has 1 hot air vent in each of the 3 bedrooms and one in the bathroom.

The upstairs is at least 10 degrees warmer than the downstairs. The upstairs bathroom blasts hot air like there's no tomorrow. The first bedroom's air flow is anemic but the other two are very good. The upstairs stays very comfortable with the thermostat set at 70 but the downstairs is downright chilly unless the thermostat is set to at least 76. The hot air vent in the kitchen blows faintly and the 2 vents in the living room are what I would term marginal. The dining room has fairly good force.

I typically need to supplement the living room and kitchen with oil filled space heaters.

My initial heating and electrical bill for 10 days in December was $109!!!!

The upstairs temp stays constant and is very comfortable, while the downstairs flucuates quite a bit and one can feel the chill returning just before the furnace is ready to kick back in.

The furnace is a Bryant Plus 90, circa 1994. It has a new ignition striker, inducer motor and has had the flame sensor cleaned. THE DUCT WORK HAS NO INTERNAL DAMPERS.

Is there anyway I can increase the flow to the downstairs? Am I looking at possible obstructions? Poor design or the need for a 2 zone system?

Please help me....I'm going broke and in need of dental work from all the teeth chattering. BRRRR!!!
Old 01-15-08, 02:45 AM
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Where is the thermostat located?

Although the dampers really should be at the start of a duct run you can partially close the damper at the floor register. Doing so will likely cause an increase of noise at those registers where you close down on the dampers.

Close down on the dampers in the hottest rooms no more than half way and let the system run a few days and see what happens.
Old 01-15-08, 05:47 AM
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You didnt say were your furnace is located..attic? Check all the duct work you can see for any disconnects. Also try running your fan all the time to try to even out the temps and see if that helps.
Old 01-15-08, 06:55 AM
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I have similar issues in my 1905 built home with a more recent HVAC system installed.... I'm forced to close off dampers upstairs during the winter months (considerably more than half way) and reversing the process in the summer months when the opposite problem presents itself (too hot upstairs/comfortable downstairs). It took a bit of experimentation to get everything balanced - but we finally got there.
Old 01-15-08, 04:00 PM
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Thanks for the replies and suggestions.

The Thermostat is located in the dining room and the furnace is in the basement (I live in Minnesota). I partially closed the vents upstairs before I went to work this morning and set the thermostat to 68f. The outside temp was -2f at 8 a.m. with a high for the day around 20f. I bought two thermometers and when I got home placed one in the living room and the other in an upstairs bedroom. The living room was 62f, upstairs B.R. 68. I then moved the LR thermometer to the dining room and placed it right next to the thermostat. The thermometer registered around 65f but the thermostat read 68 (it's a honeywell programmable).

I have an HVAC tech coming out next Monday. They troubleshot the furnace a couple weeks ago when it went out and were very methodical in isolating the problem. They've been in town for many, many years and are considered "the" people to call when your having heating or cooling issues.

I have located a couple joints in the duct work that I suspect should be tightened up, but cannot believe this is going to add much to the force of the air downstairs and that seems to be the problem.

Two questions: there is a cold air retirn in the foyer and no heat vent. It's darn cold in there so I close the pocket door that leads from the foyer to the living room and that helps a lot, but I'd like to heat the foyer. Will the cold air return just suck out any heat if the foyer were vented? Could I move the cold air return (there's another on the opposite side of the wall in the living rom).

#2 Are 5 hot air vents enough for about 1000 sq feet spread out between the LR, DR, Kitchen, Foyer and small bathroom?

Thanks everybody!
Old 01-15-08, 07:39 PM
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Like said close the registers down some down stairs. Also run the blower on 24/7. that also helps a lot.
Old 01-31-08, 03:24 PM
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O.K. here's what the heating guy did today:

1) Sealed all the seams with metal "tape".

2) Fully insulated the entire run of duct work that runs through a very cold ante room in basement.

3) Installed a heating vent to the Foyer (previously devoid of any heating source)

4) Installed heating vent to small bathroom off of kitchen

5) Moved thermostat from warmest wall in dining room to one in the middle interior that is fairly neutral in temp

5) Installed internal dampers in duct work.

When I got home the thermostat was set at 70, outside temp was 10f and the downstairs was WARM!!!! Previously I would have to set the thermostat at 76 to get the downstairs comfortable and 78 during really cold weather (below zero).

The tech said he left the dampers at 1/2. The upstairs vents had noticeably less air flow and it felt just perfect up there. In fact, the difference now between the two floors is negligible.

How nice it is to go from room to room and floor to floor without erxperiencing a 10 degree fluctuation in temps!

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