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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    16

    How to heat this house?

    We have an older 1950s 850 sq ft (1st floor + attic and basement) house that is reasonably "tight" for it's age (insulated walls and ceiling, not floor, and replacement windows).

    Our air vents are in the ceiling (shared with A/C ducts, so A/C works wonderfully) heated by an XR80 and I feel like it is doing a very poor job. Part of this is obviously because the vents are in the ceiling and the heat doesn't sink.

    I have tried turning on the blower motor while the heat is not running to bring the hot air down and I felt like this helps a little bit, but I don't think that I can program the fan separately from the heat (just on/off/auto). We've also tried running the ceiling fans backwards and forwards on slow speed.

    Our attic (where the furnace is located) is 66 while our living area is 62. in the summer, our attic is hot, so I guess what I am thinking is that hot air is not escaping from the duct work (which are insulated) otherwise the cold air would do the same in the summer????

    The floor of the living area can't be easily insulated because the basement is finished, however the garage which is below the living room is in the process of being insulated.

    I thought due to the small size of our home a heater IN the living area would make a huge difference?

    Getting a heating vent DOWN seems difficult. How much space do you need to run a duct? Our house is small enough and boxing out a corner is not ideal.

    Signed off confused homeowner who just wants to make his wife happy (warm!)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    322
    I doubt this will completely solve your problem, but any kind of leaks in the ceiling will have a bigger effect on heating than cooling, since cool air sinks and the effect of ceiling leaks is smaller during cooling season. So you might want to check for a good seal on all ceiling penetrations, including lights (especially recessed lights and flourescent lights held in place with molly bolts), smoke detectors, registers, bathroom fans (check for dampers), attic stairs, skylights, ceiling fans.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    16
    One thing I should point out is that there are steam radiators all over the house that have been disconnected. There is nothing wrong with any of them that I know of.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,826
    Quote Originally Posted by pcampbell View Post
    Our attic (where the furnace is located) is 66 while our living area is 62. in the summer, our attic is hot, so I guess what I am thinking is that hot air is not escaping from the duct work (which are insulated) otherwise the cold air would do the same in the summer????
    Your ducts are likely leaking substantially. You didn't state where you are or what the outdoor temp is when the attic is 66 but if your attic is warmer than the rooms below, there's only two ways for that to happen. One is by ambient outdoor conditions (it's 70 outdoors or the sun is shining on it) or the furnace is heating the attic. In order for the furnace to heat the attic, something's leaking. Leaking ducts can affect the system in two different ways. First, heat is lost to the attic space. Second, static air pressure (to push the air toward the floor) is lost. You might not notice the issue in the summer for any number of reasons, not the least being the AC system may be bigger than it needs to be and therefore overcomes the leaky ducts. Also, the cold air falls naturally to the floor and so will envelope the occupants more readily than the heating system. We do ceiling supplies all the time and never get any complaints about temperature or that the attic is warmer than the rooms. But we do thoroughly seal all the ducts. The only other thing would be if you have significant leaks through your ceilings and walls to the attic. Recessed lights (non-airtight models) are huge air leaks into an attic, as is the attic access, such as a hatch or pull-down staircase. Something is heating the attic and all the heat originates at the furnace.
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    1,996

    Too bad you took out the steam

    You had a great heating system. Are the pipes still in the mechanical room? Maybe a small steam boiler could be put back in. There must have been a chimney and gas lines in the basement at one time. Two pipe or 1 pipe steam? If 2 you might be able to put a hot water system in if the pipes don't leak.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    burlington county n.j.
    Posts
    9,642
    try getting some low sidewall returns to pull the cold air off the floor.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    66,798
    First, have your ductwork checked for leaks, and then repaired.
    Give up some closet space, and have a return installed close to the floor.
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    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    16
    We did not take it out The previous owners did. It looks like no harm no foul. All the pipes are in tact from what I can tell - I have not had them pressured tested or anything but I think the only reason they took it out is they put in central air and did the heat at the same time.

    The steam is 1 pipe. There is a chimney and gas in the utility room so hook up would be a cinch. I don't know if there is such thing as a direct vented boiler. Thinking way into the future it would be nice to reclaim the space the chimney takes up, for closet space, vertical vents, etc.

    Speaking of vertical vents, there is 1 low return which functions for the kitchen, bathroom and hallway - the living room and 2 bedrooms have ceiling returns.

    It sounds like the first thing I need to have someone come in and check the duct work for leaks.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Office and warehouse in both Crystal River & New Port Richey ,FL
    Posts
    18,836
    Where are the suppy grilles,inside or outside walls?

    Can you describe how they direct the air flow?Post a pic?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    1,996

    Side walling a steam boiler, not a hot idea

    Since they run hot, you'll need that chimney.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    16
    What about the basement? It is 45 degrees down there. It is "finished" with no insulation on the walls or ceilings. Our floors our FREEZING and I think this has a profound effect on how the house feels.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    16
    I took a look and at each point where a duct meets the big air box, there is no seal whatsoever. I am assuming there should be on each and every one (12 total).



    Furthermore there is no sealing anywhere where the air boxes attached to the supply and return sides of the air handler.

    The flex ducts are attached to the registers with foil duct tape (shouldn't this be mastic and duct tie???).



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    SW FL
    Posts
    5,994

    Thumbs up Fan programming

    Quote Originally Posted by pcampbell View Post

    We have an older 1950s 850 sq ft (1st floor + attic and basement) house that is reasonably "tight" for it's age (insulated walls and ceiling, not floor, and replacement windows).

    Our air vents are in the ceiling (shared with A/C ducts, so A/C works wonderfully) heated by an XR80 and I feel like it is doing a very poor job. Part of this is obviously because the vents are in the ceiling and the heat doesn't sink.

    I have tried turning on the blower motor while the heat is not running to bring the hot air down and I felt like this helps a little bit, but I don't think that I can program the fan separately from the heat (just on/off/auto). We've also tried running the ceiling fans backwards and forwards on slow speed.
    Change out the thermostat with fan pgramming capability or add an Air Cycler.

    http://www.aircycler.com/productline.htm
    Designer Dan
    It's Not Rocket Science, But It is SCIENCE with "Some Art". ___ ___ K EEP I T S IMPLE & S INCERE

    Define the Building Envelope and Perform a Detailed Load Calc: It's ALL About Windows and Make-up Air Requirements. Know Your Equipment Capabilities

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