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Old 01-30-2010, 03:04 PM   #1
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HVAC for c. 1956 House. What would YOU do?


First time poster here. Wife and I bought our home a year ago this past September. The house is a brick/block single story with crawl space and floored attic. Wall construction is plaster on plaster board (sheet rock) with the outside walls furred to concrete block with 2x3 (I think). The outside walls have NO insulation and to add insult to injury, the cavities are open to the crawl space below and the attic above . Needless to say, the exterior walls are FRIGID in Winter as outside air is just the other side of the plaster. The space between the floor joists were insulated sometime in recent years with fiberglass batt insulation and the attic floor has a few inches of blown fiberglass that looks as old as the house. House has original windows and doors and triple track storm windows and storm doors. There are two wood fireplaces.

About 5-6 years ago, the previous owner installed a new York heat pump with electric strip backup heat. Supply registers and returns are all in the ceiling (great in Summer, not so much in Winter). The air handler and all duct work is in the attic and appears to have been installed by someone who took their time and was neat.

The house has a Columbia FT Series oil fired boiler and two zones of BaseRay cast iron baseboard heaters. The baseboard heaters cover most of the baseboards in the entire house. I suspect the boiler is inoperative as the fuse was removed when we bought the house and one of the zone T-Stats is completely disconnected at the boiler.

What I want to do is remove the boiler system completely as I would like to gain the space that the boiler takes up in my shop and the baseboard radiator installation creates a huge (1/2" to 3/4") gap between the floor and the bottom of the wall (difficult to explain) that is open to the wall cavity (outside air!). I have since used some Great Stuff and 1" backer rod to seal up this gap as a temporary fix.

What I want to know is if I am able to seal and insulate the house (suggestions on this are VERY welcome!) is my heat pump going to be adequate to condition the house properly? I don't have the model number handy, but can get it if it will help. The house is not comfortable in Winter. The floors are very cold in spite of the insulation in the crawl space joists and the crawl space vents that I sealed for the Winter. I have given thought to installing a radiant floor heating system at some point, but it's not in the budget now.

What would you do with a very limited budget? Obviously, sealing and insulation is the first order of business, but I'm not sure of the best approach. I am very comfortable/capable with tools, so DIY is not an issue. Sorry for the long-winded post!

David


Last edited by David911; 01-30-2010 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 01-30-2010, 03:56 PM   #2
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HVAC for c. 1956 House. What would YOU do?


I would seal and insulate. Then, I would find out what is wrong with the boiler system and have it repaired. And use it for when the outdoor temps got below 40 or so.

No heat pump will match the comfort of that cast iron baseboard heat.

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Old 01-30-2010, 04:04 PM   #3
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HVAC for c. 1956 House. What would YOU do?


Yup, seal & insulate is 1st
We have cast iron radiators & love them
Is your crawl space sealed & insulated against the outside air?
Venting the crawlspace is good in warmer weather, not so good in freezing cold weather

I'd be inclined to take the inside down, 1/2" rigid for thermal break, then a 2x4 insulateed wall
Or
I would probably add 2" rigid insulation inside then new drywall

Any pics of the gaps you are talking about ?

Without knowing the model of heat pump & square footage of house I don't think anyone can even guess accurately
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Old 01-30-2010, 05:37 PM   #4
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HVAC for c. 1956 House. What would YOU do?


Getting pics of the gaps would be difficult. I've used a mirror attached to a long pole to reach the eaves so I could look down the wall cavity from the attic. I've also been under the house and put my hand up in the wall cavity. As a side note, it does make it nice to fish new wire down the wall!

What would be the best insulation method if I remove the sheet rock and insulate from inside? Would rigid foam (fastened to the block with construction adhesive?) be more effective than fiberglass?

The house is 1900 square feet. The model number from the air handler is York F2RP042H06B. I can tell you that it's a 1400 CFM unit. I can't get to the compressor at the moment.
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:53 AM   #5
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HVAC for c. 1956 House. What would YOU do?


That air handler is used on both 3.5 ton and 3 ton outdoor units.
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:19 AM   #6
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HVAC for c. 1956 House. What would YOU do?


Quote:
Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
That air handler is used on both 3.5 ton and 3 ton outdoor units.
Thanks for the info! I will get the model number off the compressor and post here as soon as I can. So far, the heat pump is keeping the house at 70 degrees in spite of it being 13 degrees outside. I would like to find out what the SEER rating is on our system. Since it's supposed to be about 5-6 years old, I would imagine it's around 13-14 SEER?
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:22 AM   #7
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HVAC for c. 1956 House. What would YOU do?


That air handler is/was used on SEER 10 units also.
Without knowing the outdoor units model number, no way to tell.
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Old 02-08-2010, 09:16 AM   #8
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HVAC for c. 1956 House. What would YOU do?


Ok, sorry for the long delay. Had the blizzard of 2010 going on here! Went out and looked at the number plate on the compressor unit and it's a York E1RA042S06D. We had the actual compressor replaced last year as it had failed. Fortunately, it was under warranty.

As a side note, I followed the recommendations here regarding no setback on a heat pump system and I must say that the house stays more comfortable and the aux (electric strip) heat doesn't seem to come on nearly as often. This is my first heat pump system, so it requires some "re-training" on my part!
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:26 PM   #9
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HVAC for c. 1956 House. What would YOU do?


10 seer
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Old 02-08-2010, 05:37 PM   #10
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HVAC for c. 1956 House. What would YOU do?


So, my unit isn't exactly the most efficient around . I suppose it could be worse. At least it's not terribly old, and the compressor is only a year old now. How do I tell if my system is sized correctly?

Also, Dave, I never answered your question about the crawl space. I sealed the vents for the Winter and the only insulation is some kraft faced fiberglass installed between the floor joists using support wires. The insulation looks fairly new. The floors are marginally (if any) better since I sealed the vents off. I'm guessing the open wall cavities are allowing cold air from the attic to reach the crawl space, so closing the vents probably isn't helping much.
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Old 02-08-2010, 05:58 PM   #11
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HVAC for c. 1956 House. What would YOU do?


Need a load calc to know if its sized right or not.

HVAC Calc.

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