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Old 05-09-2013, 11:43 PM   #1
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1993 basement HVAC question


I just bought a ranch style home in Arizona with a basement. It's got a large Rheem total package unit outside the home. Don't know the size.

The venting is routed between levels. The only return is in a bedroom in the basement while the stat is in hallway upstairs. This doesn't seem right. Should there be a second return upstairs? Thoughts?

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Old 05-10-2013, 12:51 AM   #2
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1993 basement HVAC question


yes there should be a second return

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Old 05-10-2013, 01:51 AM   #3
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1993 basement HVAC question


In a real home there would be a return in every room except the kitchen and bathroom.Even in a mobile home the one return is at least in the living space.I hope you got a real deal on your house because you will probably never be comfortable in it.In my 30 years in the business I can't remember not at least trying to get a return in each room.
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Old 05-10-2013, 02:17 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by REP View Post
In a real home there would be a return in every room except the kitchen and bathroom.Even in a mobile home the one return is at least in the living space.I hope you got a real deal on your house because you will probably never be comfortable in it.In my 30 years in the business I can't remember not at least trying to get a return in each room.
I appreciate the input. Yes, a very good deal on land with a home, but it needs some fixing up.... I'm sure your experience far exceeds mine, but I'm not sure where you live reference your 30 years experience.

In Arizona, ALL new builds have 1 return in single floor homes. Maybe it's the location, but I've never seen a return in each room. Two stories will have two units with two returns, but not single stories.
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Old 05-10-2013, 05:24 AM   #5
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1993 basement HVAC question


Yep, get a return to the upstairs/first floor.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:21 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
Yep, get a return to the upstairs/first floor.
Like most of us on here, we've got experience with framing, etc, but not HVAC. Hence why I'm asking such a simple question.

I tried doing some research regarding adding a return but there's not much out there. Most posts on the topic state adding a return isn't as simple as that but requires figuring out flow rates, etc...

Is it that difficult? The posters all recommend NOT DIY. I thought it was a matter of taping into your return vent and running another line to the upstairs. Pretty simple. Is it?
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:41 AM   #7
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1993 basement HVAC question


It is not that simple but you get generic advice on the net and we cannot see your layout etc. If you can use a wall cavity then sometimes you can use that as a chase but you still need to get ducting to it and cut thru the floor into it or you got to run a flex pipe or duct thru a closet or make a chase for it. need to get a experienced contractor to do that. flow rate is not that important unless you got over 5-6 of them as too many will slow down the air movement etc. I agree another one will help but the devil is in the details.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:46 AM   #8
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I've never seen a home with returns in each room. Do you mean registers perhaps? I've seen one return per floor and sometimes one return for the whole house, but never each room.
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Old 05-10-2013, 10:59 AM   #9
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1993 basement HVAC question


Yeah, I'm not sure what that poster was referring to by having a return for each room. Regardless, I've added a second story to one of my homes in Oregon several years back and feel confident I can install a return, but just don't have the technical experience.

To make things worse, the house was built in 1993. It sits in Phoenix and cooks everyday in the sun. The HVAC unit is a RUUD total package in which the manufacture tag has been faded away. I can't get any info from it. Not sure how else I could get info on the model number.

Horrible pics. At work right now. There's an EVAP next to the unit which shares the same duct work via a Y. The unit is located next to the house outside the kitchen. The main floor is 950 sq/ft as is the basement. The ducts run between the floor.

In AZ, it's kinda rare to find an HVAC system with ducts coming from the floor (main floor) rather than the ceiling... Of course, in the basement the ducts are located on the ceiling. My splits were 17 degrees.




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Old 05-10-2013, 11:42 AM   #10
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1993 basement HVAC question


To save money, builders use a one or two large returns to serve the whole house and just "undercut" the bedroom doors (leave 1-2" between the bottom of the door and the top of the floor) to allow conditioned supply air to get out of the room and find it's way to the return. This works, but it reduces privacy and you can sometimes get a stripe of dirt in the carpet right underneath the door where your carpet is acting like an air filter. It can also make your doors slam shut on their own when the HVAC is on if the undercut is too small. Or if they omit the undercut completely, you get no heating or cooling when you close the door.

Older or higher-end homes in my area have both a supply and a return in bedrooms. In my 1971 home (old, definitely not high-end ), they saved money by cutting the return for each bedroom into the ceiling sheetrock and nailing down a 16" piece of sheetmetal over the ceiling joist bay in that location. The joist bay acts as a duct until it hits the main return trunk. I don't know if that's allowed by code any more, though, since ducts formed of combustible wood framing members doesn't sound like a great idea to me.
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Old 05-10-2013, 12:09 PM   #11
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In North America there are probably 12-24 different types of houses and furnace and AC setups. All depends where you live and who you talk too. And of course economics plays into the equation. Where I am we have returns in every room except bathrooms and kitchens except for the ultra cheap cookie cutter box houses of the 70's with one return on the main floor and the door cutting method.
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Old 05-10-2013, 12:59 PM   #12
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1993 basement HVAC question


[QUOTE=Daugela;1176376]Yeah, I'm not sure what that poster was referring to by having a return for each room.

There's an EVAP next to the unit which shares the same duct work via a Y. The unit is located next to the house outside the kitchen. The main floor is 950 sq/ft as is the basement. The ducts run between the floor.



Returns for each room are very common in the east and midwest. Not very common in Phoenix!!!! They do work really well in making sure that conditioned air does not stackup in closed bedrooms etc.

as to your question about adding a return. Well,, its not hard to do. Some folks will use common sense to locate and duct the return and others will used manual d. I must say that where the current return is located is pretty odd... In phoenix most returns are located in a central area of the house (as I am sure you know). without a floor plan drawing, it would be hard to figure out what is going on... but again, its not hard to add a return. I would suggest that you use as big a return box grill and duct work as you can fit and matches what you have. I would also suggest using 4 inch media filters.

additionally,
I personally do not like to tie evaps and ac systems together as they cause each other issues like dirt, rust and air leakage.

btw, what part of phx you in.. I am in mesa. I would be happy to come take a look and give you my opinion. I am not a contractor and will not work on your house. I do not know any good duct work installers and my only cost will be a cold pepsi or coke when we are done!!! I have many years experiance with my house and neighbors as well. take it for what is its worth,.,,,,

bob in phx (mesa)
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Old 05-10-2013, 01:06 PM   #13
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1993 basement HVAC question


Quote:
Originally Posted by mikegp
I've never seen a home with returns in each room. Do you mean registers perhaps? I've seen one return per floor and sometimes one return for the whole house, but never each room.
Around here most all homes have returns in each room. Central returns are very uncommon in residential with the exceptions of apartments and mobile homes.
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Old 05-10-2013, 01:18 PM   #14
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1993 basement HVAC question


[QUOTE=bobinphx;1176472]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daugela View Post
Yeah, I'm not sure what that poster was referring to by having a return for each room.

There's an EVAP next to the unit which shares the same duct work via a Y. The unit is located next to the house outside the kitchen. The main floor is 950 sq/ft as is the basement. The ducts run between the floor.



Returns for each room are very common in the east and midwest. Not very common in Phoenix!!!! They do work really well in making sure that conditioned air does not stackup in closed bedrooms etc.

as to your question about adding a return. Well,, its not hard to do. Some folks will use common sense to locate and duct the return and others will used manual d. I must say that where the current return is located is pretty odd... In phoenix most returns are located in a central area of the house (as I am sure you know). without a floor plan drawing, it would be hard to figure out what is going on... but again, its not hard to add a return. I would suggest that you use as big a return box grill and duct work as you can fit and matches what you have. I would also suggest using 4 inch media filters.

additionally,
I personally do not like to tie evaps and ac systems together as they cause each other issues like dirt, rust and air leakage.

btw, what part of phx you in.. I am in mesa. I would be happy to come take a look and give you my opinion. I am not a contractor and will not work on your house. I do not know any good duct work installers and my only cost will be a cold pepsi or coke when we are done!!! I have many years experiance with my house and neighbors as well. take it for what is its worth,.,,,,

bob in phx (mesa)
Thanks bob. Regarding the Y tie in for the EVAP - how else would you install it? The EVAP would have to have it own duct work? The EVAP at least has a blockage at the Y so when it's not in use, it's separate from the AC.

I'm considering upgrading the entire system myself and would in part use the existing duct work. The garage is being converted to living space so I would need something to either replace what I have now that would cover the whole house or add a second heat pump to the new addition? Not sure. I'm thinking just replacing the whole unit with a newer heat pump split.

Attached is my homemade drawings of the house. The room on the far left side would be the new attached garage. The middle of the house where the master bed is, is the old garage. It's 2x6 construction faces east/west. Double pane windows from 1993. New windows for addition would be thermal. The basement has an open stairwell with no door. Attic insulation is blown cellulose 10" deep. I'm assuming walls are R-13 or more since it's 2x6?

The upstairs would have 1700 sq ft and the basement is 900 sq ft. I'm looking at a 4 ton Trane XL20i. Thoughts?

BTW - I'm in Waddell.


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Old 05-10-2013, 05:22 PM   #15
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1993 basement HVAC question


WADELL!!!! thas about 60 miles from me!! my price just went up to 3 pepsi's!!! LOL

since this is a remodel/addition and your ductwork is in the basement (exposed I hope). here is my suggestion.

First, get or do a full on manual J. Manual J is to figure out, based on a bunch of variables/input from you, what your expected heat load will be. The process will then give you a set of CFM numbers etc for each room that you can used to properly size your ac system. It will also help you figure out if your existing ducts can be used or not. and it will help you make sure any new ducts are the right size.

I dont know how serious a diy guy you are,, but ducts are hard to do right, but they can be done. design followed by installation, followed by sealing and insulating will really result in a very low utility bill and excellent comfort in the house!!!

Second, since you are adding on, be sure that you seal up any and all air leaks in the existing house (and there will be plenty of them) and the new additions as well. Yes its a total pain in the neck, but doing so will reward you. my experience was that by correcting the duct issues and sealing leaks, I lowered my electric bill by 25 percent. Sealing all doors, windows, outlets, wall to floor cracks and caulking the outside of the house, found me another 5 percent savings.. I still have to seal the attic and add more vents to the attic..


if you give sizes of the rooms on your floor plan, along with the basement, the folks here can give you some idea, based on their years of experiance, as to the ducts placement and sizes.

As to the evap.. yep,, I ran new secondary ducts for my evap and it worked well. I not longer loose 150 to 200 cfm from my ac system (5 tons, which is way too big for my house, as per manual J)..

hope all this helps.

bob in phx

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