Heat not getting to 1st Floor

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by amailmanyouknow, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. amailmanyouknow

    amailmanyouknow New Member

    Hi all - We got our 2-ton geo unit last week (1500 sf house), and it seemed to be doing fine, until we went away this weekend.

    It has been around 40 degrees outside, higher during the day. Turned the temp down to 60 while we were gone. Got home, thermostat read 58 and geo was running on the electric backup. A friend was over the feed the cat yesterday, she said it was running while she was there.

    We are finding that the heat is really not coming out strong on the first floor, it is barely coming through the vents. Unit is on the third floor in the attic. Second floor is nice and toasty, and we have even closed the ducts in a couple of the rooms to try and force it downstairs, but it's just not doing it. We have a propane insert in the living room, too, and even with it running, the heat is not getting warmer than 63.

  2. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    What does the installer say about this?
  3. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    2nd that question

    This kind of thing is almost impossible to resolve over internet
  4. amailmanyouknow

    amailmanyouknow New Member

    Don't know yet, it's Sunday and they aren't in....
  5. amailmanyouknow

    amailmanyouknow New Member

    ....and they can't come out until Wednesday afternoon..... (sigh)
  6. amailmanyouknow

    amailmanyouknow New Member

    Guy just left. OF COURSE the Owner didn't come out; they sent a repairman. He didn't know what to do. The system isn't broken. It's just not appropriate for this property, IMO.

    I don't know what makes things run. I just know that it isn't sending to the first floor. Most of the ducts can't be closed (old/won't close), and the ones that DO close leak air. There is NO air coming through the vents on the first floor. There is a 10 degree difference between the temperature on the second floor and the setting (which is on the cold first floor), and 15-20 degrees between the temp on the third floor and the cold first floor.

    For some reason they took out the zone control on the third floor, too. That does not help the rest of the house. If we can keep that temperature low, then the rest of the house will get more heat, no?

    We are getting sick because we have no heat on our first floor. We paid $20K for a $7K electric heat pump that doesn't work. I think we are going to have to shell out $8K for an oil burner, at this rate. It's 40 degrees and windy outside.
  7. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    It may be as simple as your ducts have pulled apart.
  8. amailmanyouknow

    amailmanyouknow New Member

    Could be, but I don't know how they even got them in, it's an old house and most of the walls were plaster.
  9. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    If the ductwork is not delivering, what makes you think changing the heat plant will solve the problem.
    You describe leaky ductwork with broken or removed balance controls, but bring your way back to the heat pump?
    You know if a road is closed it doesn't matter what kind of car your driving, you still can't pass. What you are suggesting is the same thing...."my electric car can't drive here so I think I'll buy a diesel".
    Find a dealer of the zone control system you have and get their help.
    Good Luck,
  10. amailmanyouknow

    amailmanyouknow New Member

    Oh, I agree, it sounds like something is in the way of the flow. This house is so old, it could be a squirrel in the duct or something. And I didn't describe leaky duct work, I described leaky duct Covers. That's not the interior of the duct system.

    But maker of zone control? We are talking OLD house - OLD mercury dial thing that controlled the upstairs. The guys who put this geo in took that out.
  11. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    A zone control would allow multiple thermostats to activate furnace for a specific area of the home. They work in conjunction with zone dampers and control centers.
    Perhaps you were referring to a thermostat. If unsupported by a zone system, only one may be employed at a time.
    Location of the thermostat does not change imbalance from floor to floor.
    What kind of system did you have before? Were there no balance problems previously?
    Duct work sounds like it was installed for a cooling system. Did the house have a boiler previously?
  12. amailmanyouknow

    amailmanyouknow New Member

    @Joe yes it had an oil furnace previously, and they used the A/C ducts.

    The owner and project manager came out yesterday and were here most of the day. They say our ductwork is pretty good. They removed some vents, threw in some dampers, maneuvered so we are getting a lot more in the kitchen now (still not much in the living room). The second and third floor are getting less (blocking off has helped a lot there, too). The vent in our BR is directly below the unit, but was getting almost no heat before. Now, it's a windstorm.

    Problems seem to be from other sources, though....they thought the thermostat was bad, and replaced that.

    HOWEVER, this next one seems to be the big issue: The guy who dug the well/installed the line put in 1" pipe instead of 3/4". So, the water is running too fast...

    Do I insist they tell their contractor to dig the sucker up and replace the wrong pipe? They had someone in "tweaking" the flow - and it still is only lukewarm (at best) coming out of the vents. How hot should the heat be when it's geo as compared to a regular electric heat pump? I had one of those before in another residence, if I remember correctly it was Not lukewarm.

    It's not getting warmer out....in the 20s tonight... (sigh - why does this always happen at the worst times??)

    And of course, with less "heat" coming out, it will cost more in electric to heat the house. So, do I wait? Or insist it be done now?
  13. amailmanyouknow

    amailmanyouknow New Member

    @Joe - also, it was oil w/radiators previously. Still have those....
  14. amailmanyouknow

    amailmanyouknow New Member

    Any suggestions, gang?

    Lukewarm air + 25 degrees outside - Geo thermostat set at 69 = temperature in room = 65...
  15. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Sounds like you have a duct system that was installed with cooling in mind. Real typical to retro top down duct systems in for cooling (in hydronic heated homes). Nice heavy cold air works it's way down, so short comings may be indiscernable.....that is until you try them for heat.

    Regarding the well piping size, 1" causes no harm whatsoever. I don't recall whether you are open or closed loop. If you are open loop you may want to reduce flow to cut pump cost. What are they calling "too fast" in gallons per minute? If you are accurately reporting the installers' concerns then I am getting concerned about their competance.

    Regarding air temperature, something around 90-95* (cool to your skin) is approximate (without aux. coil running). You have to pass 70 to get to 90* so it works fine. You are overscrutinizing because you have cold spots in your home.

    Air flow:
    The solution to your problem is going to be expensive if adjusting dampers here and there does not satisfy you.
    Your installer may or may not have experessed concerns about duct system when you purchased system. My paper work would have said something like "not responsible for performance of existing duct work". If balance dampers don't deliver what you want then ducts may have to be added, walls might have to be opened, extra money will have to be spent.
    To return to previous paralells; it's not the car it's the road.
    Find a clever duct guy (I'm ruling out your installer if he did not anticipate possible problems with existing ducts) and see if he has any ideas. It is likely you did not pay your installer for duct modifications if he didn't warn you delivery might be un-even, so at least you won't get double dipped (though you will spend more than you anticipated).
    Good Luck,
  16. amailmanyouknow

    amailmanyouknow New Member

    Well, let's see....yes, it was originally set up for A/C. Our A/C system worked great, no problem cooling.

    Yesterday when we spoke with them, they said we have a very "cold aquifer" (it's closed loop), so they sent someone out to put more anti-freeze (or whatever it is) into the system. No difference in temp.

    We don't just have cold spots, the whole first floor is cold. It has not been over 62 since they put it in, unless we turn on the fireplace insert. It's 64 coming out of the duct in the kitchen (and that's blasting), living room thermostat is set at 70, but reads 61. 2 feet away from the blower, and throughout the living room, it is 54. The kitchen is worse.

    I am told that whatever goes into the cold air return should come out 20 degrees hotter. If that's the case, the CA return is on the third floor, where the other half of the unit is (split system) and the temp in that room is at least 70.....it *was 80 before they rearranged the dampers.

    There is nothing on the installation sheet about duct work. In fact, it says there will be no additional charges. However, we have 2 closets in the house, and one already has a duct running through it - but that's the one going to the living room, where there is virtually no air blowing through. They haven't been able to fix that one with damper tweaking. The other closet is right next to it, so I doubt they will run one through there.

    I am thinking that 2 ton is not enough, that they should have put in a 3 ton. Please don't ask me about Manual Js and all that, because I don't know anything about that stuff, I am far from handy. When these people came out and did their thing before giving us the estimate, I have no idea what they do, I know they plug numbers into a computer and it spits out whatever. Every company who came out did the same things, except one guy (and he wanted us to have an oil burner, too, as backup, and charge us $35K). Isn't part of the point to get rid of oil dependency? :rolleyes:

    24000 BTUs is probably not enough - that is what the guy said today the 2-ton (2.75?) system puts out. Our fireplace insert is 30000 BTUs. If it turns out we *do need a 3-ton system, then they need to come out and switch the thing. I have no problem paying for the difference in cost of the unit. *However* I refuse to pay for the labor to change it, since they should have estimated the house properly to begin with. Would that necessitate a change in the pipe? It's actually 1.25" and not 1". Is there anything else I should be asking for??

    How do you find a clever duct guy??!! The only clever people I've seen so far are here....
    And, thanks for your help -
  17. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Interview HVAC contractors to improve your airflow. There will be lots of ways to fix your problem. I don't know that the heat pump change will be the way to go (assuming your actual load isn't too much higer than ~30kbtu's.
    The poorly designed top down duct systems work ok is that cold air drops like a rock. Warm air wishes to do the opposite. No heat pump of any size will get the job done without duct improvements.
    Based on your latest description, getting return air from the lowest floor would likely serve you better.
  18. amailmanyouknow

    amailmanyouknow New Member

    We asked him about a cold air return from 1st floor (fairly easy to do, no twists/turns) and he doesn't want to do that yet because he says that the air would be harder to warm up. Where he *wanted to put a duct would just send more heat up the steps. Talked about putting a temporary heat strip, I don't know about that, either. Not sure what that would solve.


    We now magically have HOT Air coming through the vents. The house is warming up (albeit slowly).

    You might ask, what was the miracle that caused this to happen?

    They turned the switch to ON on the geo unit in the basement, evidently the booster *fan was on, but not the HEAT.

    Kill me now. :mad:
  19. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Sorry, but I had to chuckle when I read this:D:D

    Glad to know you have heat.
  20. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Doesn't jive with symptoms you've described, but if you have heat- good.

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