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Old 12-13-2008, 08:59 AM
 
275 posts, read 1,106,258 times
Reputation: 81

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Ok, so we have a HVAC system and this is our first year in this house for the winter. I've noticed that all the rooms upstairs are not getting properly heated. Our master bedroom has two vents and therefore, heats up nicely. My sons room only has one vent and doesn't get as warm. The guest bedroom has one vent, but has vaulted ceilings and is literally an icebox. Is there anything I can do about this, like adding extra vents. I don't mean to sound stupid here, I really don't know.
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Old 12-13-2008, 09:22 AM
 
Location: Oswego, IL
5,650 posts, read 6,711,213 times
Reputation: 35044
Do your vent pipes have dampers? It may take some time but you can close down some vents and keep others open. How many heating zones (thermostats) in the house. If you have just 1 it is probably downstairs. That is where the oven is and all the people are most of the day. This creates heat which may be satisfying thermostat before upstairs can get warm. In my 2 story house I send very little heat to the family room, kitchen area and almost no heat to the second floor. Hot air rises quite well in a 2 story foyer to second floor. Summer is the opposite. Most A/C goes upstairs and falls down. I have also installed booster fans in 2 rooms that just were not getting enough flow. It can be done. An additional tip. Id you're old and forgetful, like me, mark position of dampers for heat & A/C so you can quickly change. I also use only returns upstairs for heat downstairs for cooling.
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Old 12-13-2008, 01:17 PM
 
27,218 posts, read 20,747,900 times
Reputation: 3735
You have to be real careful about adjusting the airflow especially on fuel furnaces. You can check out the data plate on the furnace and see the temp rise requirements for a safe and long life. When you close of returns and supplies you increase the temp rise and with that comes increased wear on things like the heat exchanger. If you have a variable speed system that's setup right then it's not such an issue and you most likely aren't needing to adjust much.

The proper way would be to figure out how much of a heat load/loss you have on the problem rooms and adjust for airflow requirements through additional vents and/or insulation. If you wanted to get wild you could do a load calculation on the whole house and then you would have a big part of the blueprints for a wonderful HVAC system and it also allows you to see where improvements can be made and what they would be worth.
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Old 12-13-2008, 01:22 PM
 
Location: Minnysoda
5,110 posts, read 4,560,867 times
Reputation: 2325
cieling fans would help a bunch
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Old 12-13-2008, 02:26 PM
 
3,020 posts, read 16,582,297 times
Reputation: 2439
Default Does room even have a return register?????

Quote:
Originally Posted by rettogo View Post
Ok, so we have a HVAC system and this is our first year in this house for the winter. I've noticed that all the rooms upstairs are not getting properly heated. Our master bedroom has two vents and therefore, heats up nicely. My sons room only has one vent and doesn't get as warm. The guest bedroom has one vent, but has vaulted ceilings and is literally an icebox. Is there anything I can do about this, like adding extra vents. I don't mean to sound stupid here, I really don't know.
This post is a bit confusing in determining exactly what you have? What is meant by a "vent"?

In order for a forced hot air system to work properly, each heated area / room is supplied off one set of supply duct work. That room / area then needs some method to allow the heated supply air to travel back to the furnace. The better method is by another set of ductwork called the return ducts. Normally there is a supply register somewhere in a room, return register maybe on the other side of the room. Lots of times, hallways and common areas serve part of the return path.

Without this arrangement, return air has to find a way back. If you have a room with just a supply line, the door is closed, it is difficult for the furnace to pump any heated air into that room. The bulk of the air tends to go other places.

Even in the best forced hot air systems you can have problems getting the right balance of supply / return air flow to all areas. This many times is the basic cause of some areas not heating equally. Many forced hot air systems are not designed as "Zoned" type systems. The same duct work supplies the entire house, again this can lead to unbalanced flows and some areas in the house not getting the proper supply of hot air. One thermostat may control the entire system. It may be satisfied before all the other areas of the house are heated, again leading to this uneven heating problem. Even the size and type ductwork can play into the problem, including all the particulars of your equipment as installed, forced hot air systems tend to be installed on the "Cheap" in a lot of the newer houses. Things like thermostat location can also play a role in how a system functions. In theory it is installed in an area very representative of whole house return air temperature, but usually not directly on an outside wall or an area that can get direct sunlight.

To start to solve your problem. First you have to understand exactly how your particular house is built. Which areas have supply registers, where are they located, in general how is the ductwork laid out? Then; where are the return registers? How does air flow to each area / room? How does it get back to the furnace? Without some type of return path it is like blowing into an enclosed bottle. Once the enclosed area is pressurized, no more flow occurs without some type of return path, say if a door is closed and no return register was supplied. Those situations usually result in colder rooms / areas than the rest of the house.

It can get a bit complicated for the novice. Some systems will "Short Circuit" and most of the flow will go to particular areas, leaving other areas / rooms cold. Part of it can be poor design / installation. Some systems have dampers in various spots in the ductwork to attempt to balance out pressures / flows and make every area get equal attention, sometimes a "Tuning Procedure" where those dampers are moved into various mid positions can help.

Also the location of return registers can be part of the problem. Many times there are less in total number of returns than supplies. A form of assumption was made in the design / installation. Many times it does not work exactly as planned.

Lots of forced hot air systems are a bunch of poor compromises, they never work all that well no matter what you do. The first place to start is understand how it was built and how was it intended to work? Then what options are there for changes / modifications / tuning available in that particular system. Understand that concept of "Short Circuiting" and that can be the key to attempt to change air flows to get a better balanced system. Sometimes it is as simple as certain doors can not be closed. Definitely have to understand the concept of return air and how that is accomplished from various areas around the house.

Not all houses are the same. Some have poorly designed / installed systems. In some the duct work may be damaged, leak or be plugged. Even the furnace filters being dirty can have an impact. There is few dummy solutions, you have to understand at least the basics, go from there.

Last edited by Cosmic; 12-13-2008 at 03:38 PM..
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Old 12-13-2008, 07:38 PM
 
275 posts, read 1,106,258 times
Reputation: 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmic View Post
This post is a bit confusing in determining exactly what you have? What is meant by a "vent"?

In order for a forced hot air system to work properly, each heated area / room is supplied off one set of supply duct work. That room / area then needs some method to allow the heated supply air to travel back to the furnace. The better method is by another set of ductwork called the return ducts. Normally there is a supply register somewhere in a room, return register maybe on the other side of the room. Lots of times, hallways and common areas serve part of the return path.

Without this arrangement, return air has to find a way back. If you have a room with just a supply line, the door is closed, it is difficult for the furnace to pump any heated air into that room. The bulk of the air tends to go other places.

Even in the best forced hot air systems you can have problems getting the right balance of supply / return air flow to all areas. This many times is the basic cause of some areas not heating equally. Many forced hot air systems are not designed as "Zoned" type systems. The same duct work supplies the entire house, again this can lead to unbalanced flows and some areas in the house not getting the proper supply of hot air. One thermostat may control the entire system. It may be satisfied before all the other areas of the house are heated, again leading to this uneven heating problem. Even the size and type ductwork can play into the problem, including all the particulars of your equipment as installed, forced hot air systems tend to be installed on the "Cheap" in a lot of the newer houses. Things like thermostat location can also play a role in how a system functions. In theory it is installed in an area very representative of whole house return air temperature, but usually not directly on an outside wall or an area that can get direct sunlight.

To start to solve your problem. First you have to understand exactly how your particular house is built. Which areas have supply registers, where are they located, in general how is the ductwork laid out? Then; where are the return registers? How does air flow to each area / room? How does it get back to the furnace? Without some type of return path it is like blowing into an enclosed bottle. Once the enclosed area is pressurized, no more flow occurs without some type of return path, say if a door is closed and no return register was supplied. Those situations usually result in colder rooms / areas than the rest of the house.

It can get a bit complicated for the novice. Some systems will "Short Circuit" and most of the flow will go to particular areas, leaving other areas / rooms cold. Part of it can be poor design / installation. Some systems have dampers in various spots in the ductwork to attempt to balance out pressures / flows and make every area get equal attention, sometimes a "Tuning Procedure" where those dampers are moved into various mid positions can help.

Also the location of return registers can be part of the problem. Many times there are less in total number of returns than supplies. A form of assumption was made in the design / installation. Many times it does not work exactly as planned.

Lots of forced hot air systems are a bunch of poor compromises, they never work all that well no matter what you do. The first place to start is understand how it was built and how was it intended to work? Then what options are there for changes / modifications / tuning available in that particular system. Understand that concept of "Short Circuiting" and that can be the key to attempt to change air flows to get a better balanced system. Sometimes it is as simple as certain doors can not be closed. Definitely have to understand the concept of return air and how that is accomplished from various areas around the house.

Not all houses are the same. Some have poorly designed / installed systems. In some the duct work may be damaged, leak or be plugged. Even the furnace filters being dirty can have an impact. There is few dummy solutions, you have to understand at least the basics, go from there.
Wow...very informative. Clearly you know your stuff. Thanks...I'll get the hubby to read this. I'm sure it will make more sense to him.
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Old 12-14-2008, 12:00 PM
 
27,218 posts, read 20,747,900 times
Reputation: 3735
Find a contractor that goes by the ACCA standards like Manual's J, D...etc. Manual D is the residential duct systems standard. Also have someone that understands design of duct work, registers and grills. This will answer some FAQ's. Notice on the side of this link other very valuable information in learning about airflow. http://www.hartandcooley.com/grd/all_grd.htm (click residential and then look at the menu choices on the sidebar.



Manual D - Residential Duct Systems
Residential HVACR

Last edited by BigJon3475; 12-14-2008 at 12:45 PM..
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Old 12-14-2008, 01:51 PM
 
781 posts, read 2,601,416 times
Reputation: 379
Quote:
Originally Posted by rettogo View Post
Ok, so we have a HVAC system and this is our first year in this house for the winter. I've noticed that all the rooms upstairs are not getting properly heated. Our master bedroom has two vents and therefore, heats up nicely. My sons room only has one vent and doesn't get as warm. The guest bedroom has one vent, but has vaulted ceilings and is literally an icebox. Is there anything I can do about this, like adding extra vents. I don't mean to sound stupid here, I really don't know.
Same problem for my house. The easiest thing to do is installed a ceiling fan(if not already) and reverse it for the room with the vaulted ceiling. I also use a floor heater over the vent. My house was a bad combo for my bedroom. 18ft vaulted ceiling at the highest point and my bedroom is built over an unheated garage. I tore my garage ceiling down and upgrade to blown cellulose to upgrade the insulation around the vents and to keep my wood floors warmer. Now it's nice and warm. Buy a rotating ceramic heater also another options.
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