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Old 06-21-2012, 01:01 PM   #1
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Ducts are a mess, what can I do ...


Hi-

I believe I know the problem with my HVAC system. Just not sure how to fix it.

The house is a split level. Ground floor, then 3 steps to the living room, then 8-10 steps up to the second floor. Heat and a/c run through the same, floor level ducts. House sits on a slab, with a partial basement under the living room.

In the summer, upstairs is absurdly hot, while downstairs is an ice box. The second floor return is a 'standard' wall register size. Then, at the bottom of the stairs to the second floor is a larger return (12x12?) and then at the top of the stairs to the living room is another large return (again, maybe 12x12). If I cover the lower returns, there is no way the tiny register near the ceiling of the second floor can allow enough air in. As it is, even covering one of the lower returns causes 'noises' in the system.

In the winter, downstairs is cold, and upstairs is hot.

I've already been told that the duct up to the top return is very small. It is the same size as the register opening at the top. I have one return duct that runs straight up the wall from the basement to the second floor.

Whoever installed it did things as quickly, cheaply and stupidly as possible.


What can I do to fix this?

THANKS !!!!!

Greg

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Old 06-21-2012, 04:47 PM   #2
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Ducts are a mess, what can I do ...


I suspect you also have supply side issues. If you leave all the doors open does it work better. The air should naturally flow to whatever return is closest. My rental house has no return ducts at all just vents cut above the doors with a large central return.

The supply side is quite a challenge to figure out. There is a spreadsheet that you can fill out that will help you but you still need to calculate all kinds of things related to heat loss and gain for windows and insulation etc etc.

You might try to increase the size of the ducts in the upstairs rooms a small amount but you can get into issues with too large as well as too small.

It may be worth your while to pay a AC company to come in and do all the math to correctly size all your ducts and leave the installation to you. Replacing ducts in the attic or under the floor is never a fun job

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Old 06-22-2012, 10:30 AM   #3
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Ducts are a mess, what can I do ...


Quote:
Originally Posted by bill01 View Post
I suspect you also have supply side issues. If you leave all the doors open does it work better. The air should naturally flow to whatever return is closest. My rental house has no return ducts at all just vents cut above the doors with a large central return.

The supply side is quite a challenge to figure out. There is a spreadsheet that you can fill out that will help you but you still need to calculate all kinds of things related to heat loss and gain for windows and insulation etc etc.

You might try to increase the size of the ducts in the upstairs rooms a small amount but you can get into issues with too large as well as too small.

It may be worth your while to pay a AC company to come in and do all the math to correctly size all your ducts and leave the installation to you. Replacing ducts in the attic or under the floor is never a fun job
I usually leave the doors open.

I called a few last summer, and they didn't want to come.

"You have a split level house? So it's Hot upstairs in the summer and cold downstairs in the winter? Yes.... Yeah, sorry we are too busy and aren't going to waste our time trying to fix something that can't be fixed"
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Old 06-22-2012, 11:39 AM   #4
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Ducts are a mess, what can I do ...


Since the doors being open do not help it means the air is just not getting to the room in the first place. Maybe you get lucky and the supply duct is damaged or disconnected in some way. Mostly its going to be how much access you have to the ducts, ones that run in finished ceilings and walls are a pain. A cheap web security cam with infared leds can be pushed a ways into some ducts when you are desperate. Sometimes a simple piece of tape coming off causes massive problems.

If you find the ducts have no physical issues then you are left with the ac was improperly installed in the first place. No easy fix then , you must put in a larger duct and without the formula you just have to guess or you put in some kind of duct booster fan in. The duct fans tend to be noisy and unless you get creative with the power run all the time.
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