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CamL 02-15-2008 11:24 PM

Air Circulation w closed Doors
I have a 2 storey 14 year old house with a developed basement. The forced air furnace has nothing fancy, not air conditioning, not zoning, just a single thermostat on the main floor interior wall.

I live in Southern Canada, Alberta, where the houses don't get hot enough in the summer to justify air conditioning. The house faces West, and gets hot in the afternoon.

The problem is I have roomates. Being roomates, everyone keeps their doors closed all the time for privacy. The 2 most problematic rooms are 1) a West facing upstairs room, with no cold air return, and a very long furnace run, and 2) a basement room with no cold air return with a very short furnace run.

Neither person in each room is happy.

Number 1 room is either hot or cold, hot because of the West Windows in the summer or cold because in the winter the large windows loose heat, and the long furnace run doesn't provide enough heat. The window only opens about 3 inches on a hinge so any breeze hardly gets in.

Number 2 room is cold because it is in the basement, so in the summer when the rest of the rooms are hot, and the thermostat won't turn on, the basement is too cold. When the furnace turns on the room overheats since it is so close to the furnace.

When I turn on the blower only, I get tremendous suction from the basement (not in the basement room) and from the main floor, but virtually no draw from the upstairs rooms. So even if the number 1 room upstairs had a cold air return, there is so little suction, using the blower is of little use. Also, during the winter the blower sucks in the Canadian cold air from outside to provide the combustable air, so turning on the blower in the winter actually cools down the house since its between 0 - 30 F outside.

Does anyone have any ideas how to deal with this type of issue?

I am quite dollar conscious because I never recoup many costs, I only pay a portion of the utility bill (1/3rd), but any repairs I pay 100%.

Here's one idea, of mine,
Can I have 2 thermostats one in the basement and one on main floor with a switch somewhere to make one active and the other inactive? During the Summer I'd activate the thermostat in the basement (deactivate the mainfloor), keeping the blower on, then during the winter, activate the main floor thermostat.

I have already inquired about a variable speed DC blower, but I'm told I need a new furnace to get that.

What do those round Aluminum things located on a roof (I don't have one), my guess is they circulate air in the attic. Could they be used to circulate air in the upstairs bedroom? I guess it would have to be plugged during the winter though.


js2743 02-16-2008 01:35 AM

the room upstairs when the door is closed is it a tight fit all around even at the bottom if so thats why not much heat is getting up there. there has to be a way for the air to escape back to the return. and with the door closed tight the air flow just isnt gonna be able to get up there like it needs to. its like blowing up a ballon, with the door closed its going to build up pressure in that room and will keep the flow from going in there. there cant be more flowing in than there is returning back to the return.

CamL 02-16-2008 01:56 AM

Hmmm, I understand the concept, the door isn't sealed all the way around, but the window is 6 ft by 6 ft, and I know from other windows like that, the area does cool off around the windows, I think what occurs is that the room gets the heat, but the furnace shuts off because the main floor reaches the temp, but the room is small and with so much of it window, it cools off much faster than an inside room. Opening the door would solve some of this, but I have no control over that. There needs to be a way to keep air circulating without violating her privacy, and without jacking up the energy bill - ie space heater.

I should say though that there is a cold air return nearby (it's from the attached room ie this one faces West, the attached one faces East and they share the common inside wall the other room has a cold air return, all I'd have to do is punch a hole in the closet. The problem is that there is hardly any draw at all from the cold air return right now so moving the cold air return wouldn't do much.

It seems too much is being air is being drawn from the returns closest to the furnace, not enough from further rooms that have heat/cold problems

biggles 02-16-2008 05:11 AM

down at the furnace room is it a wall mounted return or louvered doors/ and on that nearest supply overheating you could have a volume damper added with a when you set the stat for say 65F whenthe room hit that the damper would slowly close and that air will go out to the nearest supply an so mentioned running the supply fan to supply combustion to the boiler????the supply fan should run when the furnace heats up and shut off when it cools down......any OVER running will cool the air moving aroud and free cool the house down in the colder weather.your thermostat should be located NOSE high above a return so it senses that return air to maintain a balanced temp.the basement vs the windows are two extremes there...thermal curtain on the window won't hurt.those silver hooded things that turn are for attics when they get hot in the summer,,the heat escaping it the drive that turns them....that supply fan running all the time is not normal during the winterwhen the stat satisfies the fan shouldcycle off so the heat can be held in the house.

CamL 02-16-2008 12:20 PM

thanks for your input biggles, I know my post was very very long.

A couple of things, the blower doesn't run all the time, anytime, I can change it from the normal position to ON, if I want to circulate the air in house, during a time when I don't need heat. It works a little bit but not great.

I have no auto dampers that close or open on their own, those would be nice. I have lived in house with that set up but this house doesn't have them.

The combustion part has nothing to do with the boiler. Like all places I know of the incomming for the furnace is like 90% from the house (previously heated) and 10% from outside. All I'm saying that due to the very cold air outside, the 10% fresh air is very cold, so using the blower in the winter to keep circulating air, in addition to the furnace going on, doesn't work.

Thanks for the thoughts on the windows and the liners, they already have solar type coating on them to block out UV/Heat, but nothing for the cold.

Hmmm, I thought those silver round things that spin that I refered to were powered by the wind and suck air, but it sounds like heat from the attic is pushed out them.

biggles 02-16-2008 12:48 PM

heavy thermal curtain will keep the cold from pulling on the heat in the rooms with window.i still don't get that running the fan for a combustion mix but it has nothing to do with the furnace?if you have a combustion motor within the furnace you still don't need the fan,and where is the 10% air coming into the house,if your furnace is a stand alone burner like a stove flame the house inside air is OK to burn as it the furnace in a room with louvered doors or it the return ducted into the side of the unit(filter goes into)from a grill in the basement...hows about that stat it above or mounted near a return...back to that OUTSIDE air in the winter you not bringing in any air if you have no combustion on the furnace itsef.if you ave the return grill in the basement into the unit and nothing else is connected to it that is your main return and that makes the srair cases down from the first floor the return and what ever is up on the 2nd floor is strictly minimal returning,,do a test and block all the 1st and 2nd floor returns off with tape and newspaper(tape top let it hang on the grills) see what comes down the stair into the basement

CamL 02-18-2008 07:21 PM

Yes running the furnace fan, really has nothing to do with the furnace, since the furnace isn't going on at that tim, running the fan is entirely about pulling in hot air from the upstairs and pulling in cool air from the basement, combining them and then redistributing the mixed air throughout the house.
This strategy was recommended to me, but honestly it doesn't work well.

The 10% air source is simply a flexible vent from the furnace to the outside. Since it's just a hole cut out in the side of the house, the distance between the furnace and the outside is only about 7 feet. This set up is very common here, but it does suck in lots of cold air.

The return is ducted into the side of the unit, not louved doors.

The stat is as you described it should be, right by the cold air return, 5 feet up.

Today is another example of the problem, a sunny day with temp about 30, upstairs room is hot, mainfloor is very warm, naturally stat won't go on, basement is very cold.

About the windows, I don't have termal curtains but the upstairs room has those roll down heavy curtains/shades that block out all the light, they keep the room warmer when it's cold, and cooler when the sun is on that side, but of course with the roll down curtains always down it's like the room has no windows, no light. During the summer they also prevent any air from coming through the ajar window - blocks sun and wind.

biggles 02-19-2008 05:14 AM

if that cold basement is the route back to the furnace then that residual heat from the sun on the upper floors will cool down as it travels back to the only feels good when it is hitting the rooms and contained within spread it out into a hall down into the basement it disappears innto a np gain.the damper situation was a suggestion for the overheating of the basement being closest to the furnace.a damper with a small motor powered off the furnace volt with a stat,when the basement hits say 65F setting on the stat it would slowly close the supply to the basement,and add more air up to the upper floors.see how that stat location runs the system no matter whats happening up top or in the basement...for argument sake,say to relocate it to the basement you would over heat the 1st and 2nd floors trying to maintain the basement with the suns adding solar.

Topher23 02-23-2008 01:19 PM

It sounds to me like you need to do some puzzle-work. You should have the ability to restrict air on all of your heating vents and cold air returns. start by restricting the basement return as much as possible, then partially close the hot air vents in the warmest rooms and open them up in the coldest rooms until you are getting fairly consistent heating and cold air return from all of your vents. Sometimes, you will have a cold air return that doesn't have any louvres whatsoever on it - restrict it temporarily by taping cardboard over part of it. Once you've got things at a good balance you can permanently restrict it with sheet metal.

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