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  1. #1

    New two-story home (with unfinished basement) uneven heating/cooling?

    Good afternoon, hope you all have had a nice holiday weekend! I'm a homeowner curious if our new home (built about 1 year ago) may have an HVAC issue or if we're just victim to the mass builder choosing the cheapest route to provide an HVAC solution.

    This home is a two-story with an unfinished basement with standard heat pump, Goodman 2.5 ton system with solid ducting. Thermostat is on first floor.

    • Basement: unfinished approx. 750 square feet
      - no returns, two ceiling registers
    • 1st floor: approx 750 square feet (very open with great room with kitchen, and small enclosed powder room)
      - one return, 4 floor registers in open area, 5th register in powder
    • 2nd floor: approx 1,200 square feet (four bedrooms, two bathrooms, small loft, laundry closet)
      - two smaller returns, each room has one floor register (7 total registers upstairs)


    We moved in this summer and the upstairs was several degrees warmer that the first floor. Now that it is winter time, I assumed that the upstairs would again be warmer because of the whole "heat rises" thing, but it is not the case. The upstairs is cooler.

    Right now I am using a basic fiberglass filter to prevent any air restrictions and I am keeping all registers fully open because I've read that puts the least amount of strain on the system for longevity. Any advice on helping to get the temperature more even between floors?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
    Posts
    6,797
    You are right about the filters, cheap 1" 30 day filters are least restrictive if changed regularly and keeping them changed will increase the life of the unit. You may need to have a zone system installed to better even out the temps throughout your home. Ideally you would have 2 independent systems in a house like yours but builders want it done cheap. Have a good hvac contractor come look and see if they can do anything to make more even temps in your home. The new home warranty won't fix anything like this they'll say its doing all it can. Hope this helps and you get your problem solved.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    2,003
    When we do new construction, we make it clear to the customers that a 2 story will have problems with temp balance without manual zoning, automatic zoning, or 2 separate systems.
    "Hey Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort." And he says, "there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice. - Carl Spackler

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    The Quad-Cities area (midwest).
    Posts
    2,652
    Quote Originally Posted by thisisjason View Post
    Good afternoon, hope you all have had a nice holiday weekend! I'm a homeowner curious if our new home (built about 1 year ago) may have an HVAC issue or if we're just victim to the mass builder choosing the cheapest route to provide an HVAC solution.

    This home is a two-story with an unfinished basement with standard heat pump, Goodman 2.5 ton system with solid ducting. Thermostat is on first floor.

    • Basement: unfinished approx. 750 square feet
      - no returns, two ceiling registers
    • 1st floor: approx 750 square feet (very open with great room with kitchen, and small enclosed powder room)
      - one return, 4 floor registers in open area, 5th register in powder
    • 2nd floor: approx 1,200 square feet (four bedrooms, two bathrooms, small loft, laundry closet)
      - two smaller returns, each room has one floor register (7 total registers upstairs)


    We moved in this summer and the upstairs was several degrees warmer that the first floor. Now that it is winter time, I assumed that the upstairs would again be warmer because of the whole "heat rises" thing, but it is not the case. The upstairs is cooler.

    Right now I am using a basic fiberglass filter to prevent any air restrictions and I am keeping all registers fully open because I've read that puts the least amount of strain on the system for longevity. Any advice on helping to get the temperature more even between floors?
    The issue may be with the return air. Depending on the sizes, it doesn't sound like enough.

    The furnace is in the basement I assume. How are the registers "feed"? Is there a main duct that goes to the attic and then branches off to the registers? Or are the 2nd floor registers in the floor?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by George2 View Post
    The issue may be with the return air. Depending on the sizes, it doesn't sound like enough.

    The furnace is in the basement I assume. How are the registers "feed"? Is there a main duct that goes to the attic and then branches off to the registers? Or are the 2nd floor registers in the floor?
    Yes, furnace in the basement. The registers are in the floor for both the 1st and 2nd story.

    The single return on the first floor is ~20x20 inches. Upstairs, the 1st return in the loft is ~15x15 inches and the second return in the master bedroom is ~12x12 inches.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    The Quad-Cities area (midwest).
    Posts
    2,652
    Quote Originally Posted by thisisjason View Post
    Yes, furnace in the basement. The registers are in the floor for both the 1st and 2nd story.

    The single return on the first floor is ~20x20 inches. Upstairs, the 1st return in the loft is ~15x15 inches and the second return in the master bedroom is ~12x12 inches.
    Thanks for the additional info. The sizes of the grilles is marginal by themselves, but it is the ductwork (or pathway) to the grilles that matters.

    In other words, if the 20"x20" is on a stud wall, with only the studs (2-3.25"x14" openings) supplying the airway, then it is being short changed.

    Sorry if this makes no sense to you. Pictures would be a great help.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Arnold mo
    Posts
    3,964
    Pictures of the house outside & inside would help, along with pics of the attic. Could be a combination of insulation/air leakage & HVAC system performance. Just 'cause it's a new house does not necessarily mean that it does not have air leakage or insulation issues.
    An answer without a question is meaningless.
    Information without understanding is useless.
    You can lead a horse to water............
    http://www.mohomeenergyaudits.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    6,361
    Quote Originally Posted by thisisjason View Post
    Good afternoon, hope you all have had a nice holiday weekend! I'm a homeowner curious if our new home (built about 1 year ago) may have an HVAC issue or if we're just victim to the mass builder choosing the cheapest route to provide an HVAC solution.

    This home is a two-story with an unfinished basement with standard heat pump, Goodman 2.5 ton system with solid ducting. Thermostat is on first floor.

    • Basement: unfinished approx. 750 square feet
      - no returns, two ceiling registers
    • 1st floor: approx 750 square feet (very open with great room with kitchen, and small enclosed powder room)
      - one return, 4 floor registers in open area, 5th register in powder
    • 2nd floor: approx 1,200 square feet (four bedrooms, two bathrooms, small loft, laundry closet)
      - two smaller returns, each room has one floor register (7 total registers upstairs)


    We moved in this summer and the upstairs was several degrees warmer that the first floor. Now that it is winter time, I assumed that the upstairs would again be warmer because of the whole "heat rises" thing, but it is not the case. The upstairs is cooler.

    Right now I am using a basic fiberglass filter to prevent any air restrictions and I am keeping all registers fully open because I've read that puts the least amount of strain on the system for longevity. Any advice on helping to get the temperature more even between floors?
    A lousy air filter will not extend the like of your system. Use something like a merv 7-8. Higher mervs are too restrictive. Talk to your a/c contractor about the a moderate air filter like a merv 7. They are much better the angel hair.
    Common sense says close the supplies in areas that are getting more heat or cooling. Do one at a time, this will put more conditioned air to the needed spots. If you hear high wind noise in your system as you close a couple supplies, call your a/c contractor for help. Readjusting the supply amounts is a relatively simple task.
    Keep us posted.
    Regards TB
    Bear Rules: Keep our home <50% RH summer, controls mites/mold and very comfortable.
    Provide 60-100 cfm of fresh air when occupied to purge indoor pollutants and keep window dry during cold weather. T-stat setup/setback +8 hrs. saves energy
    Use +Merv 10 air filter. -Don't forget the "Golden Rule"

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