Major Temp differences in house

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  #1  
Old 06-08-05, 05:24 AM
connysmom
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Question Major Temp differences in house

Let me start off by staying that I am looking for low-cost/DIY solutions for this problem. We are planning to put our house on the market soon, and primarily I just want it to show well.

We have major temperature differences in our house, no matter what the season. It is a 3 story townhouse, interior, with the furnace/central-air in the front basement. The front of the house is brick, the back is siding. There is a skylight in one bedroom.

In the Winter, the front half of the house stays nice and toasty warm. However, the back half of the house runs about 15 degrees cooler. Several people suggested that the house may be lacking insulation in the back walls. So I brought in a contractor to give me an estimate. HA! He said the only way to do it was to totally tear out the back walls of the house, put in new insulation, and then put the walls back up. It would be 10's of thousands of dollars. No thanks.

His recommended solution? Move the thermostat to the middle of the house. Well I could just change the temperature a little bit, and have the same effect.

Now it is summer, and we'd like to put the house on the market. In this case, the bottom two floors are nice a cool, but the upper level is about 15 degrees hotter. Normally I run the a/c at about 78, but I've moved it down to 76 to get a LITTLE relief up there. The house fan runs constantly.

I've closed or blocked all the vents on the lower two levels (NOT the return vents). That hasn't helped much. There IS cool air coming through the vents upstairs (1 in each of 2 bedrooms, 1 in each of 2 bathrooms). The return vent is in the hallway. It's as if the cool air is coming up, but there is no where for the hot air to go.

So I shined the flashlight inside the return vent to see if maybe it was dirty. It appeared to be CAKED with crud. So I opened it up (a challenge -- it was painted shut). It was NOT that it was caked with crud. Rather, there seems to be 1-1.5" insulation INSIDE the return vent, as far as the eye can see. On all 4 sides. Okay, I'm not a professional, but that doesn't seem very efficient to me.

Other things to mention -- we've added insulation to the attic in the past few years. The only part that is not insulated is a 2x4' opening to the attic, covered only with wood. Is that small space enough to be causing the heat problems? There is a ridge vent on the top of the house, so the attic air should have someplace to go.

I've tried putting a vent-booster on one of the vents, but that really didn't seem to help. Of course putting in a window a/c unit was great, but I can't do that when the house is on the market!

Any suggestions would be much appreciated!
 
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  #2  
Old 06-08-05, 10:22 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
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Heat Stratification

In most cases situations like yours there are a combination of factors that influence the uneven comfort levels. Most people will have a HVAC person come in and balance the distribution system by adjusting the dampers inside the ductwork. This will more than likely alleviate the temperature differences in various parts of the house. But rarely does it completely resolve the problem. For your purposes, it appears to be your most cost effective option.

The guy who gave you the estimate to insulate did not want the job and if you wanted him to do it, he was going to make you pay through your nose.
 
  #3  
Old 06-08-05, 10:39 AM
Ed Imeduc's Avatar
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Location: Mountain Williams Missouri
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Wink

Ok you said you run the blower 24/7 . Next is it on the high speed for AC for sure. new filters every 30 to 90 days. Is AC coil clean for sure. Sounds like you have a good duct job just dont work right for you. that is duct board you saw in side the duct and they put it there to help kill sound for you. Do you have any dampers in the duct in the basement that you can move to help get air to the top floors Id also put a R19 insulation on the attic door for now will help some. This is just why I like 2 units for a job like this.

ED
 
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Old 06-08-05, 02:58 PM
connysmom
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Thanks

Thanks.... I didn't get the sense he really wanted the job either. Again, I'm not a professional, but I've seen people do blown-in insulation in the walls. He said that was impossible. I don't know if that was true or not....

But in an area where people are doing $30k kitchen renovations, a dinky little job like mine might not have been worth his time.
 
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Old 06-08-05, 03:02 PM
connysmom
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Thanks Ed...

Yep, the blower runs 24/7. My thermostat doesn't have a high/low speed for a/c. Just heat/cool, and auto/on. But it's definitely on cool and on. Thanks for the info on the duct board. I about freaked when I first saw all that "stuff" in there!

I don't know about dampers within the ducts. All the vents are painted shut, and after the mess I created opening up the return vent upstairs, I hesitate to open anything else. I don't want to have to repaint EVERY ceiling in the house! But each vent/register has it's little open/close switch, and all the downstairs ones are as closed as they will go, or they've got the magnetic things covering them.

I don't know anything about the AC coil. Probably beyond my expertise (even though I think I'm pretty good... for a girl!).

My husband is going to insulate the attic door tonight, and we'll see if that helps.

Thanks so much for your suggestions!
 
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