Single to Multi-Zone Conversion?

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Old 03-04-08, 11:39 AM
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Single to Multi-Zone Conversion?

Hello All - hopefully a quick and easy question:

I have a natural gas, forced air system throughout my newly purchased split-level home. There is a single thermostat on the upper level, and the heat is perfect up there, exactly as the thermostat indicates.

The problem is the lower level. It's about 3/4 finished, and is often 10-15 degrees cooler than the upper level. I'm wondering how easy/expensive it is to have the lower level set up as a different zone? I'd like a second thermostat down there to regulate the temperature separately.

Basic Info
Location: New Hampshire
System: Basic single-thermostat upper level, forced air natural gas, installed 2003
House Type: Split-level with open staircase to lower level.
Problem Zone: 4 rooms in lower level (1 large unfinished, 2 small finished bedroom-size, 1 bathroom). Each room currently has one heating vent in the ceiling (drop-ceiling, ducts are accessible)

Any thoughts/comments?
 
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Old 03-04-08, 06:29 PM
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If this is a new home your builder needs to come fix the problem. The problem is the duct work they should have a manuel J and D for the work.
 
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Old 03-05-08, 06:08 AM
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The home was built in the late 80's, but the previous owner spent a lot of time/money updating it between 2003 and now. I just purchased it, and this is one of the items to fix on my "to-do" list.

Technically the heating system is working properly. With only one thermostat on the upper level, the system has no way of knowing that the lower level is colder, so it shuts off when the upper level is warm.

If I moved the thermostat to the lower level, then the upper level would be too warm. So my best bet would be either alternative heat source (space heaters, gas stove, etc) or some sort of damper/multizone heating arrangement. At least that's my guess?

Does anyone have any other suggestions? Or perhaps a general cost-analysis and effort involved in changing the system to multi-zone and adding a lower-level thermostat?
 
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Old 03-05-08, 04:39 PM
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Best thing to do is to add a 2nd unit. You just can't go making a system a zone system with out a lot of duct changes.
 
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Old 03-09-08, 05:38 PM
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Zoning

Unless the furnace is of the modulating type, which I seriously doubt, it is either on or off. This being the case, it has to move X amount of air to keep from overheating. If you install zone dampers, chances are you will cause to overheat. About the only way zoning works with a single stage furnace is to have a "dump" zone which is a complete waste of energy. Sometimes running the fan all the time helps to even out temperatures.
 
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Old 03-09-08, 05:45 PM
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Zoning of residential forced-air systems is usually a bad idea; sometimes a very bad idea.
 
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Old 03-14-08, 08:01 AM
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Hmmm ok - good feedback. Sounds like I'll have to go with an alternative method.

A couple of suggestions I've been given were:
1) Install a gas fireplace in the lower level
2) Install an alternate radiant heat source (electric, dial thermostat baseboards)

Ultimately I guess the first step is to fix the insulation problems I've found. Though I don't think it will get the lower level up to the same temp as the upper, it will at least get rid of the cold seeping through the foundation areas still exposed.

Thanks all - I'll keep working on the problem. I'll also check to see what furnace I have in case it has more options than I noted.
 
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