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Old 06-09-2011, 03:29 PM   #1
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Air circulation in a split level house?


Summery for skim readers:
I have a split level house with boiler heat and a persistent stale smell in the basement (not overwhelming, but annoying) A recently purchased dehumidifier seems to control smell while running, though I would rather not have to run it continuously. Is there a system for circulating air between floors other then a full ducted furnace type install?


The details:
Roughly a year ago my wife and I purchased a large split level for our expanding family. The house has boiler heat (no ducting) and has had a stale smell in basement from the day 1. It was on the market for some time before we bought it and attributed the smell to being shut in. We had the entire house ozonated before moving in, still get the damp smell in the basement. The house had no a/c prior to my installing a 3 head mini-split unit last fall (2x 9000btu heads on the top floor and one 18000btu head on the main floor). With no way to remove the humidity from the air it was no wonder the basement would get damp and have a smell, but why is it still there? I bought a 65 pint/24hr dehumidifier when we had a leaking pipe in the basment a couple weeks ago. Lifted up some carpet to dry underneath, completely removed some other carpet. The dehumidifier is still pulling a significant amount of moisture out of the air (bucket was recently full in just over 24hrs, about 21 pints).

I wound prefer not to run a dehumidifier and just cycle the air to the upper floors where it can be removed by the a/c unit(s). Is there a system like this? What I imagine is something like a bathroom fan that runs on a timer/schedule, i just can't seem to find anything. Not to mention there must be air quality issues with having uncirculated air in a basement... No?

Thanks in advance!

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Old 06-11-2011, 01:44 AM   #2
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Air circulation in a split level house?


... anyone?

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Old 06-11-2011, 02:41 AM   #3
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Air circulation in a split level house?


Is the basement finished? If not, the easiest is probably to install a forced air furnace or basic air handler. Have a return in the basement, one on the lower level and one on upper level, with proper supply vents to all rooms/areas. You could then have AC installed in there as well.

Also if your crawlspace is open from the basement from end to end, put a big fan blowing into the crawlspace on one side, and a dehumidifier pointing outside of the crawlspace on the other side. This will help circulate the air. I'm guessing this is a half crawlspace half basement house, if it's a split level setup like mine.
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Old 06-11-2011, 02:51 AM   #4
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Air circulation in a split level house?


Thanks for the reply Red. I would really like just circulate the air not intall a furnace. I have a 1 year old NTI 150 boiler and 6 month old fujitsu mini-split a/c / heat pump unit. Definitely not looking at changing those out.

Correct on the crawl space, with a dirt floor unfortunately.
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Old 06-11-2011, 02:53 AM   #5
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Air circulation in a split level house?


Sry, to answer your question the basement is framed with drywalled walls but unfinished ceiling.
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Old 06-13-2011, 12:08 AM   #6
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Air circulation in a split level house?


Today I stumbled across a perfect solution to my problem.

A Honeywell F500A1000 'Whole House HEPA Air Cleaner' http://customer.honeywell.com/honeyw...aspx/F500A1000

I'm not sure what's with their almost $1800 price tag on the Honeywell site... Pexsupply.com has them for $720, amazon was $882. I came across it in my local Home Depot. $699, marked down to $599 because it is 'slow moving'. The box for one of them was kind of beat to $#/t so I asked for another $100 off (they gave me $50, the unit is still mint and all parts intact). So for $550 I got something to move the stale air out of my basement and 3 stage filter it at the same time (charcoal, pre-filter, HEPA filter). Not to mention they had the pre-filters on for $4 rather then the usual $22, I bought 10 because I'm thinking they won't be stocking these things again. Overall, success!

Cheers.
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Old 10-27-2013, 10:30 PM   #7
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Air circulation in a split level house?


Did that work long term? IS the smell gone? We are dealing with the EXACT same issue. Thx
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Old 10-27-2013, 11:15 PM   #8
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Air circulation in a split level house?


Yes the odor is completely gone, though we also changed the carpet. It was old carpet laid directly on the concrete and we never changed it because of the smell, but it needed to be changed anyway. Between those two things it has helped dramatically, absolutely zero stale air smell. Honestly, I forgot it used to be an issue until I got a notification there was a message in this topic, haha.

It's hard to say if the smell would have stayed away with only the air exchanger, but without one I am betting the dampness and therefore smell would have eventually effected the new carpet.

For the intake I pulled air from the top of the main level as my basement does not have its own heating zone and tended to get cool in the winter (especially in the bedroom). I used the wall cavity as ducting by cutting the bottom of the 2x4 away from underneath, this allowed me to pull the warmest air to the basement in the cool months, while also pulling the dehumidified air to the basement in the summer months.
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Old 10-27-2013, 11:47 PM   #9
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Air circulation in a split level house?


Also worth noting. I had originally considered using a second Honeywell unit to circulate the air between the top level and the 'walkout' level, but believe now the best option is to use an HRV to move fresh air into the bedrooms and exhaust air out of bathrooms.

While there isn't a major issue with the air quality on the upper levels (or any level for that matter), we have noticed stale air in there bedrooms after bedroom doors have been closed all night. Especially after I gutted the attic (for the AC install) and air sealed with many tubes, rolls and cans of acoustic seal, tuck tape and spray foam. Now that it's all sealed, I need to spend time and money to send air out and bring in fresh stuff...

One issue I foresee is an HRV (of course) isn't 100% efficient at heat transfer and since this air isn't going into a furnace, it's still going to be pretty cool in the winter. I will need to incorporate a heat exchanger off the boiler to make sure I am not putting cold air into the bedrooms when it's -30 C outside. The HRV will then need to be triggered off the thermostat for the zone that I use, or create its own zone... Not exactly a simple install but food for thought as you sound like you are going through the same situation.

Regards,

Latsay

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