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Old 04-11-2012, 10:47 AM   #1
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Cold Climate Duct Work


I am renovating our new home in Upper Michigan and I am asking around local contractors in regards to installing the new heating system. I am going with forced air and some of the contractors have said they will run the duct work from the basement to the attic and then feed these lines to the upstairs bedroom. I did not mind this option as I am getting the attic insulated very well so that nothing can get in or out and the duct work will be completely covered.

My question is that I had a HVAC come to the house today and said do not go into the attic to run the lines as in this area in the winter it is below freezing most nights and it does not matter how much insulation you put on the heat will escape. He suggested going through the first floor and then running lines to each bedroom but this will cost a lot more and I will lose lots of room on the first floor due to the duct work coming up from basement. So is it a good idea to run it to the attic or not...Ideally I guess it is better to run it through first floor but cost and loss of room are telling me no.

I know heat rises etc and no the ducts cannot run through the walls as they are already in place.
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Old 04-11-2012, 05:24 PM   #2
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Cold Climate Duct Work


You can always Insulate the ducts to R10 or better. Code requires a min of R8. While not the best place for the duct work, its very common for them to be in the attic.

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Old 04-11-2012, 09:01 PM   #3
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Sounds good but I just spoke to a friend who is a HVAC guy and he said DO NOT go through attic as it is to cold in this area in the winter...he told me to go through the floor and give up some closet space etc.
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:29 PM   #4
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How cold is too cold? Below -20 I guess.
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:53 PM   #5
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i live on lake superior in the UP of MI...in the night it gets that cold yes
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:18 PM   #6
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You said you are insulating the attic? Then condition that space as well.
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:21 PM   #7
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sorry what do you mean by 'condition the space'
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhysup View Post
sorry what do you mean by 'condition the space'
Include it in your heating and cooling system....at least the area which the ductwork will be in. But I don't believe that would be necessary if the ducting was insulated well enough. Granted the weather in Chicago is not as severe in the winter as it is by you, but it's not uncommon to see ductwork on the roofs of many buildings, exposed to 100+ degree heat and -10 degree cold with no ill effects.
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:43 PM   #9
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OK I know what you are saying...I guess I am going to get some other contractors in and see what they say. I am renovating the rest of the house myself and don't think I can do the heating system myself, maybe if I had more time to research it.

Basically I have about three estimates the lowest is $9000 for two zoned heating, 97% tempstar furnace with humidifier, 50 gallon water tank, 2 programmable thermostats and all the duct work etc for first floor and then one main trunk going to attic and to feed the second floor and then I will be doing all the insulation.

The second estimate was $16000 for 95% furnace, 40 gallon tank, 1 zone and duct work through first and second floor.

so you can see the big difference in price and why I am having more contractors in to give their 2 cents.

The first estimate seemed good as it was everything I wanted and was planning to foam spray the whole attic with LOTS of foam.
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:04 PM   #10
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maybe i am wrong. but i don't know why ducts can't be insulated, as some of those contractors say.

and yes, sometimes, here in chicago, i can and does get REALLY cold. when i was a teen, we saw -60 wind chills. but that is rare. during many winters, -10 can happen at least once. and -0 is not uncommon.
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Old 04-12-2012, 07:55 AM   #11
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My house has duct work in the attic and crawlspace and with the air handler in the crawlspace. Big mistake.

There is no reason to place the heating/cooling system in un-conditioned space. Those that say its ok are wrong. I understand why it might be done, but to me, its still the wrong.

HVAC is all math and science. Why would insulate the attic to R50 (or per your code) but only insulate the ducts supplying heated air at R8 or even R10?

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