Heat Pump problem

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  #1  
Old 09-10-02, 09:23 AM
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Unhappy Heat Pump problem

We live in a fairly small two-level townhouse. The heating system is a Carrier heat pump which is located in the basement. It never seems to cool the second floor (3rd floor if you count the basement as floor 1) well enough in summer or heat it well enough in winter. The first floor seems to be heated and cooled fairly well though. The heat pump is only 4 years old and has always operated this way. We've had our condo association contractors (whom I'm guessing might be biased since they installed it) look at it and the duct work many times and their only reply is everything seems fine and that "heat pumps don't ever seem to work well in this region." I live in central PA.

My question is: How can I get the proper cooling and heating to the top-most floor? Do I need a more powerful heat pump? I'm at a loss as to what to do. Any ideas or help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!!
 
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  #2  
Old 09-10-02, 06:48 PM
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Sorry to tell you this!!

If your upstairs has about the same amount of square footage as the 1st floor, I have not found a way to cool a two story house with just 1 unit. Most two story homes need two units to properly cool both floors. If your thermostat is on 1st floor it controls the temperature on the first floor. The system only knows what the temp. is at the thermostat. It could care less what the temp is upstairs. To compound the problem even physics is against you. Hot air rises and cold air falls. Common fixes for this problem: Have 2 systems, Install a zoning system in duct that has dampers and multi thermostats(however these can be problems, are usually expensive to add, especially if duct is not accessible between floors). The real problem is the first floor cools much faster than the second floor causing unit to shut off. Even if duct was installed so that most of the air went upstairs to cool it, then in the winter time, it would be too hot upstairs. This problem has nothing to do with the cooling system(heat pump), more of the way it is installed. When installed, maybe manual dampers could have been installed that you could have opened and closed by hand, depending on the season, letting more or less air travel to certain areas. Again it is difficult to cool 2 stories with 1 unit. Running the fan in the on position may help.
 
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Old 09-10-02, 07:29 PM
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  #4  
Old 09-11-02, 05:54 AM
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Smile

Thank you both for your helpful suggestions. I guess I have some work to do as well as some decisions to make. The second story is exactly the same square footage as the first floor. Any idea of the price I'm looking at if I install another heat pump with a second story thermostat? Thanks again!!! This forum is the best!!!
 
  #5  
Old 09-11-02, 08:55 AM
lynn comstock
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A bigger machine is not the answer. The problem is that the 2nd floor isn't getting its fair share of the cooling and heating air. This is a common problem. If you are lucky you may find the ductwork going upstairs to have a damper that is partly closed.

Your problem is a nearly universal problem for multi-story homes. The solution lies in the supply ductwork. The return locations and numbers only matter when the interior doors of your home are closed.

As a TEST, close all of the vents on the first floor. If the supply air upstairs is still weak, the duct design is poor or there is a closed damper in the supply ductwork that you haven't found. (Reopen the vents when done.)

Redesigning and correcting the ducts AFTER the home is built is possible but EXPENSIVE and terribly inconvenient.

The solution lies in zoning current duct system or zoning your home with a separate heat pump or room air conditioners for the upstairs. This is not cheap and may even be impossible once the home is built.

I would use the duct zoning method if the TEST shows that the ductwork can in fact deliver enough air when the dounstairs area is closed. The zoning system will close down the downstairs area whenever it's thermostat is satisfied and the extra air will go to the upstairs area until its stat is satisfied also.

See:
http://www.dulley.com/docs/f505.htm
http://www.hvacrnews.com/editorials/zonecontrol.htm
http://content.honeywell.com/yourhom...ing_sec_12.htm
 
  #6  
Old 10-17-02, 11:04 AM
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Unhappy Heat Pump Problem - Follow-up

Thanks for all the insight! Since Iíve written the above post, Iíve had a couple of different servicemen in to look at my system and give me an evaluation and estimate to fix the problem. After looking in my basement and attic they both told me the ductwork is laid out horribly. One thing, the return vents upstairs wonít hold a tissue when tested. There doesnít appear to be good airflow to the second floor as well. Basically there was poor design when the townhouse was built. The one serviceman suggested I have a new ductwork line run strictly to the second floor and also place a new thermostat on the second floor to control it. Some of the ductwork lines on the first floor would be sealed off where it really isnít necessary (closets). They also want to put a second return vent on the first floor for airflow. The current ductwork in the basement coming off the heat pump is I believe a 12Ē thickness. He wants to replace it with 8Ē ductwork to concentrate the airflow. The price to do all this is $2300. He believes he can run the ductwork alongside the current ductwork between the joists between the floors without having to cut into the walls. I have several questions Iím hoping someone can answer for me.

1.) Is this a fair estimate for all this work?
2.) Whatís the chances of this work being done and it not really fixing the problem? Basically, I donít want to be $2300 poorer and nothing to show for it.
3.) Is this a common problem with townhouses that use heat pumps?
4.) Iím probably going to be in this townhouse another 5-10 years. Is this worth the money and effort to get all this done? Do you think it would help in resale since none of the other townhouses in my development would have the new heating/cooling ductwork system? I know itís probably a matter of preference but should I just gut it out with what Iíve already got since Iím only planning on being there another 5-10 years?

Thank you so much for answering any or all of my questions!!!
 
  #7  
Old 10-22-02, 03:40 PM
lynn comstock
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Questions and ANSWERS.

1.) Is this a fair estimate for all this work? MAYBEÖDEPENDS ON THE RESULTS.
2.) Whatís the chances of this work being done and it not really fixing the problem? Basically, I donít want to be $2300 poorer and nothing to show for it. DEPENDS ON THE KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE OF THE CONTRACTOR. THE ODDS ARE AGAINST YOUR BEING 100% SATISFIED UNLESS THE CONTRACTOR WILL GUARANTEE RESULTS IN WRITING. THE RIGHT CONTRACTOR CAN AND WILL DO THIS.
3.) Is this a common problem with townhouses that use heat pumps? IT IS COMMON IN ALL MULTISTORY HOMES AND CONDOS.
4.) Iím probably going to be in this townhouse another 5-10 years. Is this worth the money and effort to get all this done? IF THE RESULTS ARE THERE IT IS WORTH IT.
Do you think it would help in resale since none of the other townhouses in my development would have the new heating/cooling ductwork system? PROBABLY NOT, BUYERS EXPECT IT TO WORK. (YOU DID.)
I know itís probably a matter of preference but should I just gut it out with what Iíve already got since Iím only planning on being there another 5-10 years? LOOK FOR THE CONTRACTOR WHO WILL DO A ROOM BY ROOM HEAT LOAD AND DESIGN BY MANUAL D AND WILL GUARANTEE PERFORMANCE OR SATISFACTION.
 
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