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Old 05-17-2015, 06:14 PM   #1
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Distribute A/C accross three level townhouse


Hi guys,

I'm looking for some help... again We live in a 3-level townhouse in South Florida.

To put things in context, the layout looks like this: the living room is Level 2 with 1 bed/1bath on Levels 1 and 3. The AC unit is Kenmore FMV 3600 (3 tons I believe). Thermostat on Level 2.

Most of the time, the temperature is coolest on Level 1 and warmest on Level 3 (master bed/master bath). Each vent (multiple per floor) has a directional flaps and a little air flow regulator stick. I should add that I think the insulation of Level 3 to the under-roof isn't that good (there is some material when I look under the roof but I feel that this Level 3 is always at least 5 degrees warmer than Level 2).

I have tried to reduce the air flow of the vents on Levels 1 and 2 but I've found it has little effect. Plus I'm afraid it might start creating some condensation and dripping.

I'm curious if anybody would have any advice on how to better distribute the flow to have a more uniform temperature throughout the house. As a start, one of the air conditioner serviceman one time told me to buy some insulating board and cut a small circular hole in it and slide it behind the vent grill. I could increase the size of the hole as needed and that would not cause any dripping. Is this something anybody would recommend?

Thanks all!

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Old 05-17-2015, 07:59 PM   #2
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Distribute A/C accross three level townhouse


More supplies and or returns on the hotter floor is what you need.

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Old 05-17-2015, 08:44 PM   #3
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Distribute A/C accross three level townhouse


A zoned system would help.
A common unzoned system cannot overcome the simple law of science that heat rises, and cool air falls.
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Old 05-17-2015, 08:48 PM   #4
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Distribute A/C accross three level townhouse


Thanks been there!

By "more supplies", do you mean a unit with more tons of capacity? I don't see how that would change the problem. The house is about 1,200 s.f. and we have 3 tons. I thought that was fine, even for South Florida? If supplies means more vent grills (sorry, I'm new at this...), then I don't know that it would help? I feel that the cold air seems to exit at higher rate in living room and lower levels and has issues going upstairs (cold going down naturally?).

Regarding more returns: currently, the unit only has one return as far as I can tell, in the living room, on the unit itself. There is not return downstairs and upstairs.

Thanks for your advice!
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Old 05-17-2015, 08:50 PM   #5
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Distribute A/C accross three level townhouse


Thanks rough neck.

I honestly would prefer to not spend a fortune in this. I'm likely to live in a couple more years at most and then rent it out. Currently, it's only one (fairly simple) AC unit for the house. I doubt it would support dezoning (previous owner was cheap as far as I can tell but the poor repairs that were made and AC unit that was changed in 2011 with no considerations to make the system better).
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Old 05-19-2015, 04:04 AM   #6
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Distribute A/C accross three level townhouse


More supplies would be more ducts ran to the upper floor to "supply" more air.
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Old 05-19-2015, 12:13 PM   #7
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Distribute A/C accross three level townhouse


I am not an expert nor a pro in this field.

I had similar issues. top of the house hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
the secret is in the duct work. What I found is that Flex duct is not a great product and should be replaced. steel Duct design with square corners is a bad design. return ductwork size and filter face area is normally not well thought out.

all this being said, if you can figure out where and how your duct work runs, you will likely find that static pressure in your ducts is your problem. I was able to put in rounded corners in all square corners, without opening up the walls!. I also took out 17 feet of flex duct and replaced it with steel. I changed all the supply grills in the house with one that flowed air better and I doubled my return ducts size and added a second filter. I also went with a 4 inch media filter for less restriction.

first step is to measure the static pressure in your ducts (use a manometer from ebay, they are cheap!). then take off all the supply registers and measure again. replace with better flowing registers as necessary.

then take out your filter and measure again. add to or replace your filter rack or filter holder to be bigger or add as second as necessary.

clean (or have cleaned) your evaporator coil. measure static pressure again.

Then take a flashlight and see if you can correct any square corners (I used tin, cut and bent by hand and then a combination of long arms and a stick to install the corners.

when you are all done, ill bet your issues are almost gone!
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Old 05-23-2015, 10:47 AM   #8
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Distribute A/C accross three level townhouse


I appreciate it bobinphx! This sounds complicated by my standards but I'll get going step by steps... Most likely gonna take me a little while.

I'll get back to you guys if this doesn't work.
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Old 05-23-2015, 11:10 AM   #9
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Distribute A/C accross three level townhouse


Add a variable speed vent fan to the 3rd floor ducts. This will draw more cool air.

Your biggest problem will be where to find power for the units
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Old 05-23-2015, 12:54 PM   #10
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Distribute A/C accross three level townhouse


The problem is the lack of proper ductwork and the way they build homes and townhouses in certain parts of North America.

Ideally you want some return air ducts and return vents for each room except the kitchen and bathrooms for better circulation. They go the cheap route and use 1 main vent or 2 and that sukks. However there is nothing you can do once the house is built. If you don't mind a bit of noise buy a window unit and put it in the bedroom window on the 3rd floor. Sell it on flea bay when you move. Unless you gut the place and add ductwork there is nothing you can do.

Fooling around with the return and that tech advice could freeze up the unit and damage the compressor. Nonsense he told you.
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Last edited by yuri; 05-23-2015 at 12:56 PM.
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Old 05-23-2015, 03:58 PM   #11
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I would be happy to help in any way I can.
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Old 05-23-2015, 04:04 PM   #12
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Distribute A/C accross three level townhouse


Warm air rises up, and that really masks duct design problems. not so with a/c; the only cooling you get on upper floors is whatever is supply by the duct.

Balancing can help, but if the blower or ducts are undersized doing so can raise the duct pressure so total airflow goes down.

There are retrofit ecm blowers available which to can extent compensate for duct pressure (speed up to maintain airflow) and can allow you to close all the vents on the first level + push the cold air up. That combined that with a wireless t-stat on level-2 to get a more accurate reading (u want the stat on the middle level) and you could see a huge difference.

If your ducts are exposed in a unfinished basement, make sure all the take-offs are sealed. they tend to leak excessively.
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Old 05-23-2015, 04:13 PM   #13
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Distribute A/C accross three level townhouse


ecm info -> http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&...93990622,d.aWw
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Old 05-23-2015, 04:53 PM   #14
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Distribute A/C accross three level townhouse


Add one or more ductless mini split A/C - heat pumps where needed .

God bless
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Old 05-23-2015, 05:24 PM   #15
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mini-splits aren't cheap -> probably getting close to the cost of opening and subsequently repairing some walls/ceilings to run some new supply ducts.

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