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Old 06-10-2008, 07:48 PM   #1
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Inefficient HVAC.


First post in this forum and I'm kind of lousy with HVAC stuff, so bear with me.

Bought our house this past January. We noticed that the upstairs portion of the house just didn't heat much, if at all during the winter. Now that the east coast has kicked it up a notch with the heat these last few days, I'm running into the same problem, but with the AC.

The unit itself is single-zone with a Rheem RACC-030JAS, mfd 6/89, the furnace is a Rheem RGDA-075C-R and I don't know if the 1987 on the label is just the ANSI standard date or the manu date.

I have the AFS home warranty and they sent out a decent local HVAC guy, he came, looked at my outdoor condenser, put a little Freon in it (his words) and told me that the fins were caked and that i needed to hose them off, but that's not 'covered' under the warranty and i should just do it myself. All well and good, whatever, I hose the stuff off after he leaves, and he's right, a lot of filth came off. I turned on the AC at 4:30PM with a temp of 88 and set it to go to 74. At 8:30 I'm now at 84 degrees on the main floor. I don't really consider this acceptable since it's still 88 upstairs.

I digress.

I've gone downstairs to check the furnace/blower, I find that the ... plenum? is ice cold to the touch, with condensation all over it. The outflow air supply duct is MUCH warmer. I'm thinking the problem wasn't the outdoor condenser, I'm thinking the plenum/evaporator coils are on the fritz.

I've included pictures of everything and I can take more if needed.

Thoughts/suggestions?
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Inefficient HVAC.-furnace.jpg   Inefficient HVAC.-wholeunit.jpg   Inefficient HVAC.-plenum.jpg  
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:42 PM   #2
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Inefficient HVAC.


direct drive fan there...check the rounds on the squirrel cage might be rounded off with dust/dirt your chilling the air but it is not rising up and out to the space.must have HI speed with the cooling side LO with the heating..how the suction on that filter access on the return should be sucking bigtime...need to do a inspection on the inside of the A coil right where thse lines go in

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Old 06-10-2008, 09:33 PM   #3
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Inefficient HVAC.


The air on the return is sucking through like a mother, so the issue's got to be in the top, but there's zero access to it without removing the piping.

Based on the idea that I may be frozen, I turned the AC off and switched the blower itself on to see if it defrosts.
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Old 06-10-2008, 11:54 PM   #4
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Inefficient HVAC.


The A-coil over the furnace might be all clogged up. When I replaced my furnace and AC, the old A-coil was so full of dust and crud I'm surprised any air got by.

Are you getting much air velocity out of the vents? I'm thinking you might not.

Access to the A-coil can be a challenge, but you can always carefully cut an access hole in the side to give things on the underside of the coil a look, if you can't get at it any other way. Be sure to screw a new piece of metal over the hole when you're done, and seal it up with some foil tape.
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Old 06-11-2008, 06:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
The A-coil over the furnace might be all clogged up. When I replaced my furnace and AC, the old A-coil was so full of dust and crud I'm surprised any air got by.

Are you getting much air velocity out of the vents? I'm thinking you might not.

Access to the A-coil can be a challenge, but you can always carefully cut an access hole in the side to give things on the underside of the coil a look, if you can't get at it any other way. Be sure to screw a new piece of metal over the hole when you're done, and seal it up with some foil tape.
The vents nearest the furnace have good velocity, but the further we go the less there is. Silly statement, but there's near-zero velocity coming from the upstairs and the first floor foyer vents.

Also, I poked around the plenum but there's no access to it, either.

Last edited by Rasputin; 06-11-2008 at 06:24 AM. Reason: forgot a detail
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Old 06-11-2008, 08:19 AM   #6
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Inefficient HVAC.


It could be a poorly designed duct system, causing a static pressure issue on the far end of the system. Too many openings, ducts incorrectly sized, kinked flex duct in an attic or dead space, etc........

I'd suggest having a pro look at it. Not a handyman...An HVAC professional that can diagnose a problem that might exist with the system design, not just the unit.
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:49 AM   #7
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Inefficient HVAC.


I am certainly no expert and I do not know how much this costs but I would be interested to have someone come in and pressure test the system.

However if you determine its leaking like crazy, but you can't reach any of the places where its leaking that isn't going to help you much. How inaccessible is everything?

I know I moved in this house, and spent an entire week taking apart the ducts, putting mastic everywhere, sealing, insulating, etc. and it has resulted in dramatic improvements. I would be upset if I could not reach the ducts and someone did a lousy job sealing and insulating them.

Last edited by pcampbell; 06-11-2008 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcampbell View Post
I do not know how much this costs but I would be interested to have someone come in and pressure test the system.

I know I moved in this house, and spent an entire week taking apart the ducts, putting mastic everywhere, sealing, insulating, etc. and it has resulted in dramatic improvements. I would be upset if I could not reach the ducts and someone did a lousy job sealing and insulating them.
Something that worries me is that clearly one of the previous owners DIY'd the finished portion of the basement. They added two vents and I think they just popped a hole in the vent feed and taped things shut (see attached).

Could that potential loss of pressure also explain the crappy heating in the winter?

I've seriously considered taking some time to run around caulking vents, but without extra money (car repairs added up) I'm kind of stuck.

Thanks, for the idea, though.
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Old 06-11-2008, 12:56 PM   #9
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Inefficient HVAC.


I am no expert, so I am not sure what I am seeing here, but that does not look like foil backed HVAC tape, but regular old cloth duct tape like MacGyver uses.

You could take a cigarette or incense and hold it close to whatever duct work you can access to search for leaks. It is possible that you could just hear, or feel the leaks too.

The foil backed tape is expensive, but a tub of mastic works better, should be cheaper, and a $1 1" paint brush.
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Old 06-12-2008, 07:44 AM   #10
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They're coming over to finish the 'fix' today. We'll see how it goes. At least the heat broke a bit so we're not DYING out here.
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:47 AM   #11
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Inefficient HVAC.


Bad tape jobs and little duct leaks here and there will not make a very perceivable difference. I think your problem is deeper than that.
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Old 06-12-2008, 08:19 PM   #12
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Inefficient HVAC.


By the looks of it, it looks like the supply/plenium ductwork is way to big to move the required amount of air needed.
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Old 06-13-2008, 08:22 PM   #13
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OK, we're all fixed up.

I cleaned the fins of the outside unit off after he left (he told me to; like I said I don't know anything about HVAC. Ask me about computers, I'll spin your head but HVAC? sheesh.) and apparently when he came over Thursday he put the pressure-reader back on and said "WHOA!" because the Freon was back down to 40 from 100 on the left dial and the pressure in the system was way low on the right. He said I did a great job cleaning the fins out, because apparently what was now happening was that they were so dirty there was pressure buildup so the reading he got before was incorrect.

He also found a leak in the ... valve? in the outside unit that was losing Freon, tightened it up, filled it back to the top with Freon and the temp dropped 4 degrees in an hour. I had to turn it up to 78 to keep my toes from freezing off and the upstairs is still significantly warmer than the downstairs, but I think that's a duct thing that I'm going to have to find and seal back up.

Thanks for all of the help!

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