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  1. #1
    I will need to replace my central A/C system soon (~15 years old TRANE) due to inefficiency and some deterioration in the air handler. My house was built in 1962 and all the returns (5) are in the walls between the studs. The ductwork is the metal round type with fiberglass insulation (with a black paper facing). The air handler is mounted horizontally in the rafters above the garage. I got some initial opinions about system replacements with differing advice. One contractor said the original ducts were designed for heating only and were poorly insulated. He recommended replacement to balance the load and get a higher insulation R-Value. Another said that the metal ducts were desirable because rats can't eat through it. He recommended a duct cleaning and shoring-up the insulation around the ducts. All the contractors recommended changing to a vertical air-handler setup with a "mixing box" to get more even air-flow to the vents. They also recommended changing the return to a large ceiling return (closing up some of the in-wall returns).

    I have a few questions:
    1. What's my best move with the ducts/returns?
    2. Is there any "red flags" with the advice I'm getting?
    3. I like the AMANA 16 SEER system for replacement...can I go wrong with the quality, repair history, etc.

    Please give me some advice...thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,174
    Originally posted by clearwater steve


    I have a few questions:
    1. What's my best move with the ducts/returns?

    Return in every room(except kit and bath) works better

    2. Is there any "red flags" with the advice I'm getting?

    Sounds ok except going to a central on;y return

    3. I like the AMANA 16 SEER system for replacement...can I go wrong with the quality, repair history, etc.

    Amana is a good unit, since you didn't post your location, don't know if you will ever get a pay back on the higher seer.

    Please give me some advice...thanks.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    215
    I have a few questions:
    1. What's my best move with the ducts/returns?
    I would say have a return in all rooms also, well execpt kitchen and bath... (no laundry area either) The more returns you have the better off you will be.

    2. Is there any "red flags" with the advice I'm getting?
    everything does sound ok for this, but there are also other issues to look at. are you using gas heat? if so what about a 90 % furnice?


    3. I like the AMANA 16 SEER system for replacement...can I go wrong with the quality, repair history, etc.

    I could be wrong but, does it really matter the brand of units now a days? all the compressors are made by virtually by 2 companies, and as for that the fan motor, contactor, etc.. are all made by other companies as well. so basiclly in my book you buy a name and the warranty


  4. #4
    Just to clarify... I live in Clearwater, FL so cooling is the primary role. I don't have a gas furnace, only a heat pump.

    Do you think the in-wall returns (2 of them) that have one side of the wall bordering the garage (hot in the summer) causing inefficiency due to the un-insulated nature of returns between the studs. If those returns are closed and replaced by a ceiling return (leave the other 3 in-wall returns), would that be more ideal?

    I haven't heard any opinions on the old supply ducts...is there newer duct material worth investing-in for an older house like mine?

    Most companies down here won't replace ducts until winter (too hot), so I'm doing a little research now.

    Thanks for the replies.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    68,174
    I misunderstood.
    yes, close up those 2 returns, the ceiling return will work better.

    If the duct is sized ok, then just reinsulating is ok.

    If they are too small and must be replaced, metal, or flex duct will both work if sized right.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Office and warehouse in both Crystal River & New Port Richey ,FL
    Posts
    18,836
    Wall returns are usually limited to a 3.5" X what ever width wall cavity,usually way too small and restrictive,so sonds like you have had good advice,on that issue.



    My opinion on the metal ducts may be different,installled a lot of them in your area ,and most have the insulation compressed to the point of being less than R2 value,when installling todays top of the line equipment,350 cfms per ton and less at times they will sweat unless reinsulated and vapor sealed,not an easy process and time consuming to do it right,often just doesn't work out,in tight Florida attics.I'd go with new ducts,or be very sure they take their time and do it right,winter as mentioned is the time to do it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    215
    i second beenthere ideas, also on hard pipe make sure if they just rewrap the pipe to make sure they are screwed and taped... this will help cut out those nasty breaks and loss of air flow in the pipe.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding about gas heat. I am now wondering why the tech would of said u have heat only duct wrap now :/

  8. #8
    Thanks for the good advice.

    dash, you nailed it on the head... I have the low-sloping roof with a flat roof in the back 1/3 of the house. The only decent crawl space is occupied by the main supply duct and the main return duct. Makes it tough to do anything in the attic.

    What are the best duct materials for this Florida climate, and rats. I've never had a problem with those rodents, but I've heard they chew through ductwork.

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