Indiana Dealing with zoning, ductwork, and service issues

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by RetiredIN, Feb 2, 2015.

  1. RetiredIN

    RetiredIN New Member

    With the help of this forum I discovered the cause of my high electric consumption. (I had a massive leak from my supply plenum. The plenum was fabricated from duct board, and the top literally blew open when the tape failed.) Although my remaining issues aren't strictly geothermal related, I hope that you can provide some further assistance.
    1. I live in Indianapolis, Indiana. Can anyone recommend a good geothermal company to do a system "evaluation", and periodic maintenance. It didn't appear that any of companies listed on this site were anywhere close to Indianapolis.
    2. My duct work is all R4.2 flexible insulated duct located in the attic. Most of it is laying on top on blown cellulose insulation, but part is at least partially buried. A rough calculation shows that I am losing a fair amount of my system output in extreme weather. Is there any reason not to bury the whole mess with additional insulation? (The only objection I have found is the risk of moisture condensing in hot, humid weather.) If my ducts are already laying directly on the insulation (with some being covered), is this a real worry in my locality?
    3. My system is a ClimateMaster Tranquility 27 four ton using a Jackson zone controller for three zones with Honeywell TH8320 thermostats. It's a two stage compressor with 20kWh auxiliary heat. The three zones are fed by 12", 14" and 18" main (flexible insulated) ducts. There is also a 10" duct with a barometric damper that dumps into the return air plenum. The product literature says that the blower can be set up with four different tap settings. The lowest setting will give 1010 cfm on stage1, 1200 cfm on stage2 and 1350 cfm on auxiliary heat. The highest setting will give 1560 cfm on stage 1, and 1850cfm on both stage 2 and auxiliary heat. It seems like the static pressure is excessive when the system is supplying only the smallest zone (that may explain why the top of the supply plenum "blew off")---especially in stage 2 or stage 3. The supply velocity is rather low when all zones are being supplied with stage 1. Should I strongly consider operating the system as one zone or at least dumping excess pressure and flow into one of the other zones (rather than to the return air?)
    4. One corner of the attic is floored. To avoid running the ducts over the floor, two of the supply ducts and one return duct are unbelievably long. (They can't be routed under the floor because of the direction of the joists.) Does anyone have any novel ideas of how to deal with this? Is a 60 foot flexible duct with three 90 degree turns actually moving any air?
    5. Sometimes I notice that the blower will come on a couple of minutes before the compressor starts. All thermostats are set for auto fan. Is it possible that the blower comes on when the zone calls for heat but the compressor is on the delay between cycles? Is there any way to remedy this?
  2. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

  3. RetiredIN

    RetiredIN New Member

    Thanks for the tip. I checked your website. Members in my area include an equipment distributor, a commercial design engineering company, the Sheet Metal Workers International Training of Institute, a loop installer, a WaterFurnace rep of sorts, a couple of folks from Carrier Corp/United Technologies, and folks from two actual HVAC installation/service companies. I may be out of the service area of the better sounding company and the nature of complaints listed on the BBB report of the other don't inspire the best level of confidence------but at least the reports are better than those shown for the company that installed my equipment and has been servicing it (or servicing me?)

    I strongly believe in due diligence, but I'm not sure exactly what it is in my case. Maybe the ClimateMaster distributor in my area can point me in the right direction.
  4. Tamar

    Tamar Member Forum Leader

    Retired, do you have a LinkedIn account? There is a very large and active open group of professionals on LinkedIn called "Geoexchange - Geothermal Heating & Cooling". Perhaps you can find someone in your area from that group. I suggest an ACTIVE member who participates in the discussions (I'm recommending that because there doesn't seem to be anyone here close enough to help you on a regular basis).

    My personal experience leads me to believe that listing on the IGSHPA site should not be the only criteria, and neither should an A+ BBB rating.
  5. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Mike Dilling at Hoosier Energy Associates in Warsaw is one I know. Don't know if he travels that far.
  6. RetiredIN

    RetiredIN New Member

    Warsaw is a three hour drive away. Better Business Bureau doesn't show anything for Hoosier Energy Associates. The Indiana Secretary of State shows that Hoosier Energy Associates Inc. was administratively dissolved in 1990.
  7. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Spoke with Mike last year, particularly in discussions about DX systems as he was a distributor once. Dunno about the administration of his company (whether he switched from a DBA to a Corp or vice versa) and dunno if he would drive 3 hours........just throwing it up there.
  8. Tamar

    Tamar Member Forum Leader

    Retired, the Climatemaster district manager that was so helpful to me lives in Indianapolis. I suspect he could recommend a contractor to assist you. I hesitate to publish his contact information. Perhaps if you send me your contact info I can contact him and check to see who he would recommend....

    Or the CM distributor could do the same if you know who that is.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015
  9. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Burying the R4.2 (yuck) ductwork in too much air permeable insulation could reduce its jacket temperature below dewpoint. That would cause problems if it persists long enough. I wouldn't risk it in here in Florida; might be OK in Indy.

    A four ton system in low stage needs to move a minimum of about 900 CFM. I despise return bypass dampers. 2nd stage should probably be locked out unless the 18 AND at least one of the other two smaller zones is calling. I don't know if the Jackson board is flexible enough to provide this. I would elevate the zero stop of the 14 to about 100-200 CFM and the 18 to 150-300 and then try to lose the bypass damper. Of course I don't know the capacity of the runouts downstream of each zone or whether the zone dampers are sized appropriately for the load in each zone.

    I confess I'm perplexed by the CFM choices. 1010 CFM is a tad high for low flow low stage, but 1200 is quite light for high stage. I'd want about 325 CFM / ton option at the low end and 400-450 CFM / ton option at the high end. Low stage nominal tonnage is about 2.75. Stage 3 CFM is dependent on how many kWH aux comes on. Rule of thumb down here is 80-90 CFM per kW.

    One of the nifty things about WF zone boards is zone weighting - each zone is configured as small, medium, or large and the system reserves stage 2 and 3 for use only when enough "weight" is calling. I like that feature well enough to have used WF boards on non-WF air source systems.

    4) 60 feet of flex with three 90s is probably not moving much air unless the air has no easier path to take. We balance our systems with hand dampers, but it is what it is. I would have demanded some alternate path to avoid a 60 foot runout; overhead or beneath a "bench" Whatever room is at the end of the 60 footer probably isn't very comfortable.

    5) Blower coming on ahead of compressor is odd behavior. One would think the zone board would have the smarts to hold off the blower until compressor protection delay is satisfied. You might reduce the problem by decreasing Cycle Per Hour setting in the Honeywell 8320s.

    A competent WF or other non-CM geo brand dealer might be able to sort things out. He or she might want to charge for an extra couple hours of labor as a "bone-up" fee in order to research your brand / model. Maybe not, though - most of us work on brands we don't sell without charging (much) extra.

    If I put boots on the ground in a similar local situation I'd want (and charge for) a room by room Man J. Know the load.

    I hope this helps...
  10. RetiredIN

    RetiredIN New Member


    Thanks for the food for thought.

    I doubt that my Jackson board can do much other than pass on a call from one of the three thermostats and provide current to the (power closed) dampers in zones that aren't calling. The company's literature doesn't say much. I'm still fuzzy on how all the parts work together. My thermostats are all set at three cycles per hour, but it seems that I sometimes have more compressor cycles in moderate temperature days. Maybe the overall system is allowing each thermostat to call three times per hour? The five minute compressor protection delay does seem to keep the compressor out of operation for five minutes regardless of when and how many zones are calling.

    I understand what you are saying about adjusting the dampers (if my dampers allow it.) Keeping the dampers "cracked open" should hold the static pressure down. What I question is whether I would actually gain anything except reducing static pressure. (My 14" duct is feeding five 8" ducts and a 4" duct. Would dumping 100-200 CMF into the 14" duct actually result in warm air coming out of the ceiling registers on a cold day, or would nearly all the heat be lost through the ductwork before it got to the registers?) I seriously wonder if the best solution might be to disable all three dampers and turn off one or two of the thermostats. (The house is a single story. As best I can tell, it originally had two zones---one for the enclosed porch/exercise room and the second for the remainder of the house. At a later date dampers were added to the two other supply ducts so that the bedrooms on one end of the house could be kept warmer than the bedrooms on the other end. The common areas [living room, dining room, kitchen, and den] are in the center of the house and are open to each other.) The "zones" were designed to please the prior owners. I'm just trying to determine what might work best for me.

    I have 12", 14" and 18" ducts coming off the supply plenum, and dampers are installed on each at the end of the fitting coming out of the plenum. As best I can tell, the distribution is at least "reasonable". I'm not the original owner of the house, and I don't have a lot of the information needed to make a precise Manual J calculation. Even if I had more information, I'm not sure what assumptions I would make. (I like to sleep in a cold bedroom. Other people prefer a hot bedroom. Do you make the Manual J calculations and design the ductwork to keep the bedroom 62 degrees or 78 degrees?)
  11. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader


    The duct work should be designed for the amount of air needed to make the space comfortable.

    It is your home. Put the heating and cooling where it makes you comfortable.

    I would not bleed the damper to the sun porch/hot tub area if you do not live in that space.

    Is Jackson the control folks out of Michigan? Can you get an I/O manual?


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