Running new returns
I'm still pretty new to the site but really appreciate all the good info here. I'm not a technician or installer but work for a company doing design and sales. I do Manual J load calcs on every job and try to approach each job with the installers in mind -- always add some extra funding for them if they have to go in attics and crawls because of the difficult access -- but there's a lot still to learn.
Most of my customers live in Philadelphia row homes, and I frequently encounter old gravity furnaces without proper returns to the top floors. Trying to find ways to get returns up there is a challenge, so I was wondering if anyone might have advice or thoughts on what you do when you encounter situations like this?
Usually I try to find stacked closets to hide the return but that's not always available. When I suggest running the ductwork up a wall, and then putting drywall around it, they object to how it will look.
I've been suggesting mini-splits with some success, but there's still resistence with those, too. I guess customers are waiting for invisible ductwork...they all want a/c but they don't want to do what has to be done to make it work.
First I'd like to applaud you for doing your job right, and doing your best to ensure the proper sizing and ensuring the designed efficiency of the product you are selling. And also, to be thinking of the installers. I am a service technician, but a time ago I was an installer working for a company with a couple salesmen who knew nothing about proper sizing/design, and only cared about selling that "box" - and could care less about the repercussions nor the installers - because to them, doing it "right" may cost them a sale, or were just too lazy and didn't care to learn. Unfortunately there's still a large handful of these.... You know what's... In the industry.
Anyways, as it sounds like you are doing what you can as it is, the best advice I can give is to keep doing what you're doing and keep looking for more and more creative ways to run that additional return in a reasonable manner for the client and the installer, all the while up to code. Keep looking for that unused closet/cupboard space... Sometimes sacrificing some space of a large laundry shoot if the client is willing... As you know every situation can be a bit different, and each client can have their "special needs" when it comes to space or what they consider an "eyesore". So there's no real answer to your question, and its all going to come with experience. Codes can sometimes make this a little more challenging, but at the end of the day, there's always SOME way to make it happen. Hope that may help...
you can make a return box in the common hall with return ducts connecting to it. Use the common hall as a plenum return.
Originally Posted by hscudd
You can cut vents in doors or over doors if there is room. again using the hall as a common return.
you can cut returns in floors down to other rooms. Noise from other room may be an issue.
But as long as you have a common return in the main common area of the house, running a return to each room sometimes drive your cost up and isn't really needed. IMO
Install 2 systems. Upstairs can be straight A/C in some homes. Heat strips can be added if heating load is low. In most homes around here upstairs heat rarely comes on, the downstairs unit does most of the work.
Thank you guys for your advice. I think seperate systems is a good option, though in most of the Philly row homes don't have an attic so there's limited space for another air handler and ductwork.
Really I was curious if, from the technicians' and installers' point of view, there was a "preferred" method or a way that would be used most of the time. Sometimes I end up with some pretty convoluted ideas that just don't seem to make good sense, and I end trying to get my customers to go with a simpler design, although it means sacrificing closet space or changing the appearance of some walls.