What you're living in I'm guessing is a modular home....... one that was brought in on wheels and set on a basement in two halves.
These homes are built with the expectation that they will have mobile home furnace installed in the closet that you say has your only return. Mobile home furnaces blow their air down. The hole that was in the floor of the closet was to be used to connect to ductwork under the home. The return on the mobile home furnaces would have been pulled through the closet door. ......... Is the door to this closet louvered?
What the installer/builder did was take the absolutely cheapest way out in hooking up a standard furnace in the basement. Hook to the supply ductwork and let the return pull the basement into a vacumn of sufficient strength to pull air down from upstairs via the hole/grill in the closet. Problem is that you're now heating the entire unfinished basement along with whatever outside air that is being sucked in through the cracks etc. in the space between the top of the basement wall and the home.
I've seen a few of these in my years and they're not easy or cheap to make right. Best way I've found in the past is to basically take everything existing down and start over. Main reason for this is that whoever would of done what you have now most likely didn't size the ductwork or runouts correctly and to "add on" to it will bandaide things, but you'll still have a system that's probably not going to function efficiently, comfortably or be very kind to your furnace and will more than likely make it fail prematurely.
Hire yourself a top HVAC company that does things right and get things done right.
Use the biggest hammer you like, pounding a square peg into a round hole does not equal a proper fit.
No our home is not a modular built onto a basement. We saw it as it was being built. But I am sure that they cut corners whenever they thought they could. I think this builder just hired a crew of cheapo ac people to install the unit in our home. The ac guys we hired ourselves told us that we were looking at alot of labor and money to hook up the ductwork from the grill to the air handler. The builder seems to think that it won't take that much work, but we haven't heard back from him yet. If the builder doesn't resolve this issue soon, consumer affairs will take over and they can pull their license. I don't understand why our inspector can't do anything. He's pretty much a waste.
In most places a "PASSED" inspection does not relieve the contractor from code violations. If that were true you would have possible action against the local code official. I would call your local code official and have him determine if this is a code issue or a matter of opinion. While most professionals would agree that it is better not to have return air flowing through unconditioned space, if it is not against your local code then it is a matter of opinion. After the code official tells you if the system is installed per code. then pay a reputable company to do the things that your contractor was too cheap to do. If there are code problems, give him a defined period of time to fix them. If he refuses. Have them done, File a complaint aginst his liscense and take him to small claims.
Originally Posted by hkropog
You've been given sage advice from professionals - but understandably we're all at a disadvantage not being able to inspect the job & knowledge of the specific codes for your area (they do vary).
You have 2 choices:
1) Seek out a reliable HVAC contractor w/ 20+ years experience that is licensed and can offer referrals. Have him give you a detailed quote - write him a check. You got hosed by your builder - just move on, he's a bum.
2) Seek out a reliable HVAC contractor w/ 20+ years experience that is licensed and can offer referrals. Have him give you a detailed quote. Send the quote to the builder w/ a DETAILED letter identifying the actions you expect and the time frame allowed (IE:30 days). Find an attorney that knows construction law - he'll know the rest to enforce your consumer rights before the warranty period expires. Timing w/ regards to construction law is VERY specific in terms of notification of defects (not your phone calls - they don't exist) ---- so your PROMPT action is required now.
First off, What is your location ?
Are there any gas appliances in the basement ?
Is this a Heat Pump system ?
In Massachusetts, its illegal to have a penetration as you describe.
"all pentrations from basement to attic are to be firestopped with fireproof sealant" What you describe is possibly a Federal Code Violation.
Every town has a fire inspector to sign off on construction permit to obtain an Occupancy Permit.
Talk with these people and wake or shake somebody up.
1. Building Dept
2. Plumbing dept
3. Fire Dept
Especially This guy
4. State Fire Marshall
The builder is responsible for everything regarding the law/codes.
Is this a new development, and how are the neighbors systems installed ?
Since there is no final connection from the main return air to the air handler which there should be, they also probably didn't seal and insulate any of the trunk line with mastic and metal tape either. I would have the duct work sealed and insulated, and also have a return air vents put in every bedroom and other living areas except the kitchen and bathrooms, once that is done I bet the majority of your problems will have been taking care of. I would also have someone check the ducting to the rest of the house especially if they used flex duct because if they did chances are the flex duct runs may have kinks and tight turns in them restricting air flow. Where are your duct runs coming from ? Are they coming from your attic ? or from the basement. If there in the basement you should have ridig duct runs, and if there in your attic you more than likely will have flex which is ok but it needs to be hanging off your fafters and pulled taunt to avoid any kinks or sharp turns which as I stated before will restric air flow. If you can take some pics of your duct work and air handler and post them here the pro's will be able to help you sort things out and be able to see what it is your problems are in stead of guessing as I am here.