Better Sealing Air Registers


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Old 12-06-13, 02:55 PM
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Better Sealing Air Registers

Tri-level house - I was having issues with the upstairs heating up well before the downstairs once the cold weather hit. My T-stat is downstairs so the upstairs was cooking by the time the t-stat goes off. I made some improvement by closing all the upstairs air registers (5 total) and allowing most of the heat to come out downstairs (6 registers). This seemed to even out the temperature in the house and keep both levels more comfortable.

The problem I have is that I cannot completely seal off the upstairs registers; either air still passes through or they have an annoying whistle from the air sneaking through the vent. Can someone recommend an air register that does a better job of blocking off the airflow? Something that attaches rigidly to the subfloor, maybe? I've heard about putting a magnet sheet over the register...I haven't tried it yet but I still think the air will come through the edges and probably under the carpet.

I also plan on updating my t-stat to have a remote temp sensor upstairs that can be monitored. Installing dampers to create an upstairs zone would be ideal, but unfortunately the upstairs and downstairs ducting is shared.

Thanks for the advice!
 
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Old 12-06-13, 03:14 PM
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Relocate the thermostat may work.
 
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Old 12-06-13, 03:16 PM
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If properly designed the air flow in your hvac system keeps the plenum from overheating. If you reduce the air flow you may create problems. Another issue involves balancing supply and return pressures within the house. Out of balance will force warm air out through air leaks and correspondingly, cold air in in other locations. I understand what you want to do, it just needs to be designed properly.

The thin foam sheets, soft and flexible, can be used to create a batter seal around the perimeter of the registers and the magnetic sheets sound good for covering them, as they are easy to install and remove.

A good summer/winter design would include a number of registers you can open or close with the changing seasons.

Bud
 
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Old 12-09-13, 08:20 AM
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Thanks for the response!

Here is an image of the layout of my house:


While all the vents blow air pretty good, the upstairs is noticeably stronger just because it is right off the furnace. The return air is at the lowest part of the house. My idea would be to block off 90-100% of the air going upstairs and leave the rest open, hopefully isolating the upstairs and allowing only the rising heat to warm it up. That would leave the two downstairs levels circulate. Maybe you have a different idea now that you see the layout?

Another reason I need to upgrade my t-stat (besides the functionality of adding a remote temp sensor upstairs) is because my current unit is only a single stage t-stat. The furnace is a newer 2-stage furnace (96%, 60K BTU). Right now when the furnace is on it is going full bore, so being able to utilize the lower speed might solve some of my problems also.

Good idea with the thin foam sheets! I'll be doing that and the magnetic covers.
 
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Old 12-11-13, 10:44 AM
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So I picked up a sheet of thin rubber to help seal the edges of the vents better and a pack of magnetic sheets to close them off. Well, the rubber worked great for sealing around the edges, but the magnetic sheets I got didn't work well at all. The stuck to the vents, but even the residual air coming through the closed vents was enough to blow them off.

I resorted to using thick plastic sheeting to completely block off the vent (remove vent, lay plastic down, then install vent). This worked great, though it took away from the ease of use...I can't remove/install it easy like a magnetic sheet. I might look for some thicker magnetic sheets that have more holding power.

So I closed off 4/5 vents upstairs (1 bathroom vent sealed pretty good without modifying, though it is cracked). All the downstairs vents are open and I've already noticed an improvement; the downstairs gets warmer faster and after the furnace kicks off the temp is more uniform throughout the downstairs/upstairs. We'll see how it feels after a few days.

Zoning the upstairs/downstairs would be awesome, but unfortunately it can't be done since the ducting is shared between the two. Since we are downstairs a majority of the time, it's not too big of a deal.
 
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Old 12-18-13, 06:03 PM
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Don't you have dampers in your lines in the basement. That would balance your airflow.
 
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Old 12-19-13, 01:16 AM
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Balancing dampers in forced air systems are often not installed these day as a cost cutting measure.
 
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Old 12-19-13, 02:45 PM
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You're right and it's sad. All these cost cutting measures.

Install vent damper when installing system: Cost: about $3.00 per vent and 10 min. of your time vs a lifetime of discomfort.

Where does it end.
 
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Old 12-19-13, 06:09 PM
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When all of the people like us that know the proper methods die.
 
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Old 09-28-14, 06:02 PM
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I thought I would give an update now that the new season of cold weather upon us.

Last year my method of using rubber around the edge of the register + plastic sheeting to block off the vents worked okay, but was kind of a pain to install. It ended up not being a big deal because they remained blocked all winter; just having the heat downstairs was good enough to keep the entire house pretty uniform. I did have to remove them because we got new carpet, so this year I was trying to think of a better/easier way to block off the vents...and I think I found it.

I had some leftover plastic foam (EPP, 2" thick sheet) from some packaging so I figured if I cut it to the correct shape, I can wedge it down inside the mouth of the vent to block off the air. It worked like a charm! I cut it slightly oversized and cut a little bevel on the edges; with a little muscle to push it down, it filled up the void and blocked off the air very well. Getting it out is just a matter of pushing on an edge until it turns enough to grab it. Still kind of a chore to remove/install, but better than my previous method.

Anyways, just wanted to share!

 
 

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