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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    6

    Not sure where to start

    Hello, All,

    I'm new here. Sorry, this is long!

    I live in the Midwest. We have a small Cape Cod, less than 1600 sq. ft. No basement, two bedrooms--COLD in the winter, HOT in the summer, especially the room with the vaulted ceilings. We put a window A/C unit in that room.

    We've had repairmen in for the same issue every year, a furnace that had sensor problems. They changed it a few years ago, but we still have trouble sometimes. I have learned how to clean it. But I have started to think there are other, more serious problems with the house that exacerbate the furnace cycle problems.

    One other trouble we have is that the furnace was installed over a dirt floor and also that the dryer vents into a sink in the utility closet sink, next to the furnace. Solved the dirt floor problem by pouring a floor underneath. Still have to get a dryer vent to the outside in the spring, but I would say the furnace stays cleaner now that the dirt floor problem is gone.

    So this season, the flame sensor has been acting a little bit quirky. Not too bad, but I still find it unsettling when the furnace re-cycles. So I start my usual thing of looking on the internet for how to get this house warmer. It's too cold, and I realize that the furnace is going on way too often.

    It's possible that the insulation is way too little. We did have the roof replaced and put good insulation in that. THe windows are replacement, but I think the previous owner went cheap. And the house is from the '50s or '60s. SO I know the insulation is poor to nonexistent. My husband doesn't think we could fix that without tearing out all the walls. Not enough space.

    Now we think maybe a small, upstairs furnace could help.

    We are finally, after 3 1/2 years, ready to get serious about this home's heating problems. I don't know where to start. Should I do an energy audit? Should I have another HVAC person come in? Where would you suggest I start? And thanks for reading!!!

    Allison

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    SouthEast NC ICW & Piedmont Foothills
    Posts
    7,618
    has anyone checked:
    1-the size of equipment vs. what is actually needed? (load calculation)

    2-the duct work attached to your system? (manual D)

    may want to make the investment of having structure thermal imaged, to fins out where the loss/gains are.
    It`s better to be silent and thought the fool; than speak and remove all doubt.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Northeast Ohio
    Posts
    4,800
    Your flame sensor issue is most likely related to contaminated combustion air (thanks to your dryer).
    A good HVAC tech knows how, an educated HVAC tech knows why!

    DEM


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    The Quad-Cities area (midwest).
    Posts
    2,477
    No basement and you have a dirt floor? Where? I have seen dirt floor in basements but never in the home itself. It sounds like the furnace is too big and the ductwork too small.

    Service techs, for the most part, are not looking for the problems that cause the failures. What room has the vaulted ceiling? First floor or second floor?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    6

    Thanks

    This is helpful, and we can definitely get started. Can any HVAC person complete the load calculation?

    Quote Originally Posted by dandyme View Post
    has anyone checked:
    1-the size of equipment vs. what is actually needed? (load calculation)

    2-the duct work attached to your system? (manual D)

    may want to make the investment of having structure thermal imaged, to fins out where the loss/gains are.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    6
    I know, it's strange to have a dirt floor. The furnace and other utilities are just to the very rear of the center of the house. And the last HVAC tech to come in was doing a very good clean-out when he noticed this patch of dirt floor under the furnace. So it was sucking up dirt.

    I have a feeling that you are right about the furnace being a bit too big and the ductwork too small, or just not adequate to the upstairs.

    One bedroom upstairs has vaulted ceilings.

    Thanks!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    6
    Quote Originally Posted by heaterman View Post
    Your flame sensor issue is most likely related to contaminated combustion air (thanks to your dryer).
    Thanks! Sounds about right.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    6
    Thanks, everyone.

    So we should probably do the thermal imaging. Hoping this can be done this time of year.

    Then I feel like we need a good HVAC person who is willing to get to the bottom of everything. It seems like most people are so busy in the winter though. Not sure how to find someone with the time, patience and expertise. I'll just have to get researching!

    You are all very helpful, thank you. My husband was so surprised that there were people nice enough to respond.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Anderson, South Carolina, United States
    Posts
    5,657
    I reccomend paying someone to do a home energy audit with blower door and thermal imaging to find where the biggest s shortfalls are in the structure. Measure and test leakage of duct as I've tested duct systems that leak as much as 25-50% of the heated cooled air to outside the thermal envelope. The auditor should be able to perform a manual J and D for you and offer solutions to improve your homes comfort and efficiency. www.comfortinstitute.org and/or www.bpi.org

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Arnold mo
    Posts
    3,788
    Start with an energy audit, but stay clear of the "free" energy audits, or even the really cheap ones. Try and find an independent energy auditor, like myself.
    An answer without a question is meaningless.
    Information without understanding is useless.
    You can lead a horse to water............
    http://www.mohomeenergyaudits.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    SouthEast NC ICW & Piedmont Foothills
    Posts
    7,618
    somewhere on this site is a contractor map, since we don't have a clue where you are (midwest of what?)

    we don't mind giving information-some of it is even accurate
    It`s better to be silent and thought the fool; than speak and remove all doubt.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    6
    Quote Originally Posted by dandyme View Post
    somewhere on this site is a contractor map, since we don't have a clue where you are (midwest of what?)

    we don't mind giving information-some of it is even accurate
    HA! I'm just north of Chicago. I did a cheap month's membership to Angie's List, but I still appreciate the rec's.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    24,933

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