Cannot find damper switch

Reply

  #1  
Old 02-20-20, 05:54 AM
K
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Cannot find damper switch

New and first time home owner. Never even heard of dampers until now. Just moved in a day ago and noticed that the first floor of the house is a solid 20+ degrees colder than upstairs. The vents downstairs simply aren't pushing out any heat!

Some googling and talking to people and they said it might be dampers. Makes sense. Thing is, I can't find any switches like the videos on youtube are showing me.

I already spent so much money doing various work on the house, so I'd hate to call a professional just for them to flip a switch somewhere, but I also just can't have my first floor be below 50 degrees for much longer. Any recommendations on what to do, where to look?
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 02-20-20, 06:14 AM
Norm201's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 8,074
Received 143 Votes on 129 Posts
Need clarification. What kind of heat are you speaking of? Forced hot air or hot water radiator? If forced hot air you're not looking for a "switch". You're looking for a lever attached to the duct work in the basement. You turn the lever so it's facing "in-line" with the duct work to allow air to flow or perpendicular to duct work to stop air from flowing.
You might want a professional to come in and balance the heat flow throughout the home. Typically bedrooms on the upper floor you may want a bit less heat. Family room maybe more.
 
  #3  
Old 02-20-20, 06:24 AM
K
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Yeah sorry bad terminology. It's forced hot air. I don't have a basement. The ducts on the heater unit, as far as I can tell, do not have any levers or anything turnable whatsoever. Right now turning on the heat sends all the heat to the second floor.

Someone I know just suggested it might simply be path of least resistance and I may need to adjust the registers instead. This might be correct, because the first floor vents nearest to the furnace room are still getting some heat. All my openings seemed like simple vent covers though, but i'll try closing them all to see if the first floor vents start pushing out heat.
 
  #4  
Old 02-20-20, 06:35 AM
Norm201's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 8,074
Received 143 Votes on 129 Posts
Closing the register vents won't help. You don't have a basement, so can you follow the duct work back from the register to the furnace or from the furnace to the register? Somewhere along that line there should be dampers. Can you send some pictures of both the furnace and the duct work?
 
  #5  
Old 02-20-20, 07:09 AM
K
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
can you follow the duct work back from the register to the furnace or from the furnace to the register?
Frankly I didn't even know what a register was until an hour ago so I'm not sure if I know what I'm even looking at. I won't get home from work for another 7 hours but I will take pictures and post them then. There is fairly large grill on the wall which I assumed was for return air but considering the location it could possibly have the dampers in them so I could try unscrewing it open. Although I don't have a basement, all of my vents are still below the floor so I have no idea where the ducts run or where the dampers would be.

I'm sure this is really obvious to a lot of people but I really wish someone told me about this when I was buying the house. I checked over the furnace manuals and everything and I'm freezing here.
 
  #6  
Old 02-20-20, 08:40 AM
R
Member
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 526
Received 15 Votes on 13 Posts
all of my vents are still below the floor so I have no idea where the ducts run
Your ducts are usually attached under the floor, and from what you are describing I would suspect that you have either some damaged duct piping or even some detached ducting. You may need to go under the house and inspect all the duct work. You might need to hire someone to trouble shoot your issue as I think it would be money well spent in the end.
 
  #7  
Old 02-20-20, 09:02 AM
K
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
and from what you are describing I would suspect that you have either some damaged duct piping or even some detached ducting.
Is this something my inspector should've caught?

Ever since I've moved in I keep seeing things my inspector never mentioned and it keeps racking up more and more money. Wondering if there's any sort of recourse for this.
 
  #8  
Old 02-20-20, 10:07 AM
R
Member
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 1,684
Received 92 Votes on 86 Posts
Do you have 1 or 2 systems?
You could very well have damaged or disconnected ductwork.
Do you have a crawl space?
Closing dampers can damage your equipment by choking airflow.
 
  #9  
Old 02-20-20, 11:07 AM
M
Member
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Canada
Posts: 978
Received 93 Votes on 88 Posts
Have you checked the vents?

It is a two story so it is not uncommon to open the upstairs vents and close the downstairs vents in the spring so most of the cold AC air goes to the second floor. Then in the fall reverse this.
 
  #10  
Old 02-20-20, 11:10 AM
R
Member
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 526
Received 15 Votes on 13 Posts
I keep seeing things my inspector never mentioned and it keeps racking up more and more money. Wondering if there's any sort of recourse for this.
I don't put a lot of faith in home inspectors, check your inspection paperwork and you may find that they are not responsible for any shoddy work on their part. Your just going to have to hire someone to check and correct any issues and move on.
 
  #11  
Old 02-20-20, 01:49 PM
Norm201's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 8,074
Received 143 Votes on 129 Posts
Pictures would help a lot. We are all just guessing at this point.
I don't understand hot air ducts being used in a non-basement crawl space is possible. The ducts would need to be heavily insulated. The power plant must be in the main floor. I would then expect the duct work to run along the inside floor or the ceiling.

I once lived in an apartment with one wall mount heater for the whole apartment, no duct work. And I've seen homes with heating registers coming from the ceiling (not ideal).
 
  #12  
Old 02-20-20, 02:44 PM
R
Member
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 526
Received 15 Votes on 13 Posts
I don't understand hot air ducts being used in a non-basement crawl space is possible
It's possible, they are attached to the floor joists under the house. I know this because I have them under my home in the crawl space. If it wasn't a PITA I would get you a picture of them, maybe another time. Not the greatest idea but I didn't build the place.
 
  #13  
Old 02-20-20, 03:14 PM
K
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Hello, I'm back from work. Sorry about the delay. Here is the furnace, located on the first floor.






Cant find any levers or anything really. The white switch just turns the whole thing on or off. The controls on the furnace itself, according to the instruction manuals, only sets cold air, hot air, and fans.

Every vent on the second floor gets a pretty solid blast of hot air. There are four vents on the first floor, vents 3 and 4 are getting SOME hot air, but vents 1 and 2 are flat out getting none. I tried blocking every other vent in the house, but all I get are little wisps of lukewarm air being pushed through vents 1 and 2.

Only other relevant info I can provide is that there is an intake cover on the left wall of this image where the couch is facing. I have no idea at what point the vent is being blocked or where it is coming from.



sorry about the mess, still getting situated here
 
  #14  
Old 02-20-20, 03:32 PM
Norm201's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 8,074
Received 143 Votes on 129 Posts
That round air duct on the left side! If that is the heat duct for first floor I understand why you're not getting any heat. It's coming off the heat plenum and is being by-passed. No heated air is being forced into it. And the straight up one must be the upper floors. That is getting all the forced hot air.

You need a heating professional to engineer a proper furnace to force air into the crawl space ducts. It would be better to block off that duct and buy supplemental heating for the 1st floor. Perhaps a free standing gas heater vented through the wall or some such alternative.
 
  #15  
Old 02-20-20, 03:53 PM
K
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the answer. Now that I think about it, it's pretty clear that there wouldn't be much pressure being pushed in that way, and most of the air would flow upwards there.

What really confuses me is how the previous owners of this house (which is now 22 years old) have been getting by in the winter? Despite hitting 80 degrees on the second floor, it barely hits 50 on the first. This isn't exactly a new system either, there's inspection dates on the furnace going back to 2003.

For the time being, I swung open door to the furnace room. It is very hot in there and I guess sharing some of that heat will help. I kept it closed so far to make sure my cat doesn't get on somewhere she shouldn't and burn herself, but I guess she'll have to learn the hard way sooner or later.

I also closed most of the vents upstairs and its helped bridge the gap between the temperatures of the two floors a little more. I don't exactly want to continue living like this. I have someone more diy saavy visiting me tomorrow to give me a second opinion, but I guess I really will need to hire a professional at some point.
 
  #16  
Old 02-20-20, 04:02 PM
Norm201's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 8,074
Received 143 Votes on 129 Posts
Here's another possible semi-fix. That furnace room is closed off by a door. You could get a louvered door and a possible a slow spinning fan to help circulate that air in the furnace room. After you remove that round duct (just cap it at the elbow) you might consider tapping off the main plenum and installing a proper heat duct into the wall of the living area. It would be about half way up the wall. I would call a HVAC contractor and talk about possibilities. Make it clear that you are not in a position to redo the entire heating, but want some alternatives to alleviate the main floor chill.

Good luck and let us know what you do.

PS...I'm betting the previous owner used electric heat on the first floor. Or just didn't mind the cold.
 
  #17  
Old 02-20-20, 05:18 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 55,267
Received 603 Votes on 568 Posts
Welcome to the forums.

Congrats on the new homestead.
I cross paths with home inspectors all the time. They focus on non essential petty items and miss important problems. Unfortunately most people have no idea how incompetent many of these "inspectors" are.... and like mentioned there is typically no recourse.

I can see you are on propane. I'm not thrilled with how those propane lines are run and it looks like they are touching the exhaust line.

We see your heating system. Is that on the same level with the first floor in your picture ?
Where is that large grill you mentioned..... on the second floor ?
Is your home on a cement pad ? It looks like that round duct goes directly into the concrete floor.
I see the water main coming out of the concrete floor too.
What is the age of the house ?

That would indicate your are on slab and the ductwork would have to be in the concrete floor.
I haven't seen that in any newer homes.

 
  #18  
Old 02-20-20, 05:39 PM
K
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 7
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
We see your heating system. Is that on the same level with the first floor in your picture ?
Where is that large grill you mentioned..... on the second floor ?
Is your home on a cement pad ? It looks like that round duct goes directly into the concrete floor.
I see the water main coming out of the concrete floor too.
What is the age of the house ?
Same floor. "Large grill" is almost definitely a intake cover. It's also not that large. Is my home on a cement pad? I don't know, but I think so. House was built 1998, Minnesota.

I'm thinking of maybe just having a damper installed right above where that circular air duct going down for the first floor is. That way, I can somewhat limit the air flow going to the second floor and push more of it down for the first floor. Is this an awful idea?

Either way, I'll be looking at having an HVAC contractor come consult for me.
 
  #19  
Old 02-20-20, 06:04 PM
Norm201's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 8,074
Received 143 Votes on 129 Posts
I'm thinking of maybe just having a damper installed right above where that circular air duct going down for the first floor is.
That's the main plenum and you cant put a damper at that point.
 
  #20  
Old 02-20-20, 06:29 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 55,267
Received 603 Votes on 568 Posts
A consultation is an excellent idea. If the duct is running thru or under the slab.... it can be assessed.
You could ask him his opinion on that propane piping too.
 
  #21  
Old 02-21-20, 03:12 AM
M
Member
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Canada
Posts: 978
Received 93 Votes on 88 Posts
Looking at the pictures I cannot see how this would ever have worked.

I would remove the cover on the hot air plenum (behind the chimney) and take a look inside.
Perhaps there is a fan in there that should be pushing some of the hot air to heat the first floor,

Getting in a pro is a good idea.
Why there is a cold air return vent on the first floor but it is not connected (at least I cannot see it) to the main return is strange. Perhaps it serves some other purpose.
Also it is very strange that you did not get much hot air out the first floor vents when the second floor vents were blocked. I would have thought that you wold get hot air at least for a while then the furnace would overheat. because there would not be enough air flow over the heat exchanger re: that first floor hot air pipe is way too small so there would be too much back pressure on the system.

Have you checked the air filter?
Though I doubt that would be much of an issue.
Grasping at straws here as I also think that this system must of worked OK in the past but I cannot see how that is possible.




 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: