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Uneven heat distribution


TheRoop's Avatar
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11-11-17, 12:13 PM   #1 (permalink)  
Uneven heat distribution

Issue: much warmer on 2nd floor than 1st. And coldest on 1st floor furthest from furnace. Almost no warm air felt coming through ceiling vents in front 1st floor, as well as floor vents in front 2nd floor, however, enough heat must travel up that its not yet an issue.

Overview: I've owned my home for about 3 years. It was built around 1905, but was completely gutted and remodeled just prior to my purchase. It has a gas furnace and ductwork all about the same age (3-4) years. The house is 2 stories plus an attic and basement/crawlspace. The basement covers 1/4 of the floorplan and is where the furnace is located. The crawlspace is dirt, which i covered with heavy gauge plastic. There is minimal roll insulation beneath the floors (hardwood and ceramic tile), but last year i had foam insulation installed around the perimiter of the crawlspace as well as the basement where the house meets the foundation. I also had roll insulation, that was in the attic already, adjusted, they blew in insulation over that. The first floor has a high ceiling with a semi open floor plan. There is a half-bath and laundry room in the back of the house above the furnace. In the middle is the kitchen, followed by the living room at the front of the house. The back rooms (half bath and laundry) each have a floor vent which blast heat. There's another floor vent just outside of those rooms in the kitchen which together crank out the most heat of all the rooms in the house. This seemingly because they're closest to the furnace.

Once you get to the other side of the kitchen and then step into the living room you can immediately feel the temperature drop significantly. There is a half wall on one side, a half wall on the other set back about 2 feet, and then a buildout on the ceiling (maybe the header) which is set back and runs along the wall furthest from the kitchen. This appears to create a tunnel (see picture) to the staircase and upstairs. When i cook, you can seemingly smell it more at the top of that staircase than downstairs, which also leads me to believe this is a tunnel sucking the air right upstairs.

This is a single zone system. I have an Emerson/Sensi thermostat. Furnace is Rheem model: RGRS-06EMAES.

I would like to know my options on how to diagnose the primary issue(s), and what my options are to improve the airflow to the front first floor. I'd like to know in order of cost and overall effectiveness what are the cheapest and ultimately best way to go about improving this myself, or if its best left to a professional, what should i look to have them do so I know they're adressing my issue with the lowest cost options first? I've heard about adding boosters, fixing leaky ducts, or blocking off sections with dampers. I've read to keep the fan running on the system for better circulation. If the tunnel I described before is just sucking up all the heat that seems very difficult to fix.

My first concern is just so much heat comes from the floor vents at the back of the house, and almost nothing in the front. Would that be the first place to start? I just don't know where to begin, and don't have a company I trust to not try selling me things I dont need. Any and all advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!

 
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11-11-17, 12:36 PM   #2 (permalink)  
First thing to do is check your return vents and make sure they are not blocked. Let us knw how many returns there are.

 
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11-11-17, 01:47 PM   #3 (permalink)  
Welcome to the forums.

Returns are important for proper air circulation.
Are the registers that are blowing hard near the furnace adjustable ?
Try closing them a bit.

Check the supply ductwork in the basement for dampers. You may not see much... possible a bolt and a wingnut. Most, not all, homes have one or two main dampers that can be changed for winter/summer operation.


~ Pete ~

 
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11-11-17, 02:44 PM   #4 (permalink)  
The registers in the laundy and bath are adjustable. The one is the kitchen, however, is not amd its a bit larger (see attached photo. I have had them fully and partially closed and it doesn't seem to increase the flow to the front registers.

There are 3 returns upstairs (1 in hallway, 1 at the top of the staircase, and 1 in the middle/master bedroom), but there is only 1 return downstairs. Its low on the living room side of the wall dividing the kitchen from the living room behind the tv stand (See attached picture of divide).

Some of the ducts have dampers with wingnuts, I tried adjusting them last year but was never exactly sure which vents they led to. I also wasn't really sure when they were closed vs. open. I tried to listen to when the flap hit the duct but it didn't seem to ever hit. I'll try again though.

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11-11-17, 02:54 PM   #5 (permalink)  
If you look at the wingnut and shaft...... the shaft should have flats on it.
The flats will be parallel to the damper.

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~ Pete ~

 
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11-11-17, 03:14 PM   #6 (permalink)  
Posted By: PJmax If you look at the wingnut and shaft...... the shaft should have flats on it.
The flats will be parallel to the damper.

Attachment 87151
Wow, great tip! Thanks! Had no idea about that

 
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11-11-17, 03:16 PM   #7 (permalink)  
There should be handles on those studs like in my picture. You should be able to get them and put them on.


~ Pete ~

 
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11-13-17, 05:25 AM   #8 (permalink)  
Have a HVAC company come out and do a heat load. This will tell you a lot more about what is going on.

 
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