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wfmrules3 11-07-2011 01:49 PM

splitting heat in multi unit house
I own a three story multi-unit house. The first floor is one unit and the second/third floor is another unit.

I currently have the electricty split but not the heat. The first floor unit is roughly 700 square feet while the upstairs unit is around 1200.

I was wondering what options I had for splitting the heat. Preferably the least expesive option :) Also if there is an option that I could possible perform myself to save some costs that would be great. I would consider myself somewhat of a handy man.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

gregzoll 11-07-2011 02:11 PM

Legally you can not split electricity, that is a different tale, nor can you legally split heat if forced air. If on a boiler (ie water or steam), better to zone the system out between units.

wfmrules3 11-07-2011 02:48 PM

maybe I am using the incorrect terminology. The goal of "splitting" the heat out is so that each unit will pay for their own heat.

I have three electical boxes. One for 1st floor unit, one for the upstairs unit, and one for foyer and outside lights.

I was thinking maybe I could seal off all the vents on the first floor and add some type of electric heating source.

Maintenance 6 11-07-2011 02:50 PM

As long as each unit has their own panel with a main breaker, splitting electric is fine. I assume that each unit has their own meter and pays their own bill. If the electrical services are heavy enough, you could close off the vents and add resistance heat with individual thermostats for each room. What will you do for the 2nd floor unit?

wfmrules3 11-07-2011 03:01 PM

I was thinking the 2nd floor unit can just use the furnace I have now. I would just block off the 1st floor vents. Is that possible?

What is resistance heat?

Maintenance 6 11-07-2011 03:25 PM

Electrical resistance heat.
If the current hot air system is designed to simultaneously heat both floors, then blocking off all the air to one floor is going to cause a lot of balance and air flow issues. A large portion of the air that once went to the first floor will be howling out of the ducts on the second floor. That will make for an unhappy occupant.

wfmrules3 11-07-2011 03:28 PM

okay, that makes sense. So what options do I have?

gregzoll 11-07-2011 03:34 PM

Minisplits, hvac units on each floor would be better.

wfmrules3 11-07-2011 03:39 PM

Is that the only viable option?

How much would that cost? Would I use the existing vents? Would the furnace I have now be used at all?

gregzoll 11-07-2011 04:00 PM

The furnace you have now, may not be able to be used if making the building into apartments. It would probably be over sized, once you start doing the Manual J & Manual D calculations.

wfmrules3 11-07-2011 04:51 PM

So that is the only option?

Would it be cheaper to buy one furnace for the bigger unit then close off the vents in the smaller unit and get a different heating source?

gregzoll 11-07-2011 05:26 PM

Yes, legal solution. Think of it this way. If there was ever a fire in one of the units, allowing common ducting, that are not fire rated or have automatic dampers on them, controlled by an alarm panel, to transport CO & fire to other units, is not only dangerous, but illegal in mufti-tenant dwellings.

wfmrules3 11-07-2011 07:09 PM

any ideas on the cost to do this?

gregzoll 11-07-2011 07:37 PM


Originally Posted by wfmrules3 (Post 766121)
any ideas on the cost to do this?

Not something that is discussed on this forum. Costs can be anything, depending on what all you need to do.

Ron6519 11-07-2011 09:53 PM

You should discuss this heating issue with the local HVAC guys in your area for estimates on the conversion. They will do an onsite evaluation which can't be done remotely.

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