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Discussion Starter #1
The lower level of my townhome consistently runs 5 degrees F cooler than the main level during the winter. Therefore, I am trying to figure out the best option for an additional heat source to raise the temperature 5-10 degrees on that level, or at least in the main room.


Details:
Located in Denver, Colorado.

Lower level is around 500 sq ft. The main concern is the living area (240 sq ft). There is also a bedroom and bathroom but they are less of a concern. Lastly, there are a couple of closets, washer/dryer, furnace (gas, forced air)/hotwater heater on that level.

I have sealed the windows and doors and attempted to adjust the forced air vents in an attempt to get more heat on that level, but it isn't enough. I think that the main issues are a lack of sufficient air vents, the thermostat is on the level above, and less solar gain than the other levels.



I am currently leaning towards installing an electric baseboard heater (maybe 1000 watts) in the main living room (240 sq ft), leaving the bedroom alone, and using a space heater in the bathroom as needed. I think I would prefer to have a separate programmable thermostat for the baseboard heater (if possible). I would need to have an electrician run a new 220 line for the heater I think. There isn't sufficient power in that room as it is so I would need some electrician help even if I went with a space heater.



Other options I have been considering: Some type of under-floor heating for the whole level, somehow increasing the number of forced air vents, or just getting a plug-in space heater for the room.


My questions:
1. What solution makes the most sense as a secondary heat source?
2. If baseboard heater, would 1000 watts be sufficient (or overkill)?
3. I think under-floor heating would be much more costly, but it could be quite nice. Does it make any sense though to just raise the temp by 5 degrees?


Thank you!
 

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Avoid electric resistance heat. Costs a lot to run.

The plug in space heaters pose a fire hazard and can overload circuits.

I would try to fix the problem.

Where are your vents on the level that's cold?

If they're on the ceiling, with no or insufficient return air near the floor, the heat will rise up and it'll be cold. You have to pull the cold air back into the system to the warm air can replace it - you're working against gravity.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Where are your vents on the level that's cold?

If they're on the ceiling, with no or insufficient return air near the floor, the heat will rise up and it'll be cold. You have to pull the cold air back into the system to the warm air can replace it - you're working against gravity.

The vents are on the ceiling. There is one small/medium return air near the floor on a wall in the hallway. Maybe it isn't big enough?



I am thinking that part of the issue is that there is a large return air at the top of the stairway leading up to the next floor. Maybe the hot air from the lower level is just getting sucked up to that return. I could possibly try to reposition that return on the other side of a door on the second level so less would be sucked up the stairs.
 

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If you put a return at the top of the stairs, it will just re-circulate warm air back into the furnace.

You need to get the cold, heavy air off the floor so the warm air coming from above can replace it. Without creating a little bit of a "vacuum" at the floor level, the warm air will just rise up to the second floor when you want it to move down.

If it's not large enough, the joist space or duct may be too small as well and cutting a bigger return in itself won't work.

More info may be helpful:

Is the main floor partially under ground?

What size is the return downstairs and does it hold a tissue with the blower on?

How many vents are there upstairs and down? Remove the register covers and measure the pipe size, post how many of each size, which floor and whether they're flex or metal.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Is the main floor partially under ground?
The lower level is partially under ground (built on a hill). The upper level is all above ground.



What size is the return downstairs and does it hold a tissue with the blower on?
Downstairs: 6" x 14" (served by the 3.5" x 15" space in the wall). Yes, it holds a tissue no problem with the blower on.
Return air at the top of the stairs: 8" x 24" (also holds a tissue).



How many vents are there upstairs and down? Remove the register covers and measure the pipe size, post how many of each size, which floor and whether they're flex or metal.
Downstairs vents: (metal) 3 vents, all 6" x 10"
Upstairs vents: (metal, I think) 5 vents, all 4" x 10"


Thank you for your help!
 

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The heat loss of underground walls is fairly consistent, while the heat loss of above grade wall varies a lot with the weather. I'm betting the main floor is the coldest when it's mild and heats best when it's very cold outside.

You'll never be able to get both floors perfect, but should be able to get them closer.



Downstairs vents: (metal) 3 vents, all 6" x 10"
Upstairs vents: (metal, I think) 5 vents, all 4" x 10"
Meant pipe sizes.

Usually they're 5 or 6" round.
 
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