Old Stone House

Heating Things Up

October 1, 2006

Filed under: Basement @ 10:40 am

duct5.jpgPost demo fun, we decided to first address the heating. The rear portion of the house (summer kitchen bastardization) has always been quite cool. Despite the fact that the walls are alleged to be insulated (new construction), we’ve always had the damnedest time keeping the place warm. We do have a gas fireplace in the sunroom, further to the back of the house (sunroom – an addition not added by us, and perhaps the most monstrously hideous thing you’ve ever seen… I will never likely post photos in shame) which can fit the bill for adding warmth – but again, that bill doesn’t fit us.

First, the test…

We took a sheet of regular writing paper and placed it atop of the three vents in the kitchen, and turned on the furnace fan. One sheet of paper fluttered slightly, the other attempted to slink along the floor, and the third did nothing. While not an exacting test, this was a fairly decent indicator that we had airflow problems.

Next, the fix…

We managed to replace all the questionable ductwork in one night – and we only had to buy one register boot. The previous renovators had installed all of the duct work so that it circled around the perimeter of the room; they also had a huge number of bends – as many as six elbows in one case. That same duct ran over 27 feet; calculating the increase of static pressure for each elbow meant that this pretzel was the equivalent to a 100 foot long duct! No wonder we didn’t have any air pressure!

We determined the paths of least resistance for each of the four lines, and then assessed where they would hook into the plenum (the big square duct on the furnace). Three of the four ducts were able to reuse the existing connections, and we only had to add one new line, and seal up an old one. Three hours later we had completely replaced each of the ducts, tucked them up in between the joists, applied generous amounts of duct tape, and had replaced the registers.

Finally, the result…

We repeated the previous test and placed sheets of writing paper over each of the registers, and flipped on the furnace fan. All the paper shot into the air, and huge clouds of dust belched out of the bowels of the house. Whilst we have no idea what percentage increase of CFM we have obtained, we are fairly confident we have improved things considerably. Likewise, we now have 20+ feet of leftover duct work waiting for a new project. (Likely the upstairs bedrooms… sigh)

Having invested an evening’s worth of time and $4.00 into the entire endeavor, we wondered why this was done so poorly to begin with. The best answer we can come up with is that whoever had done the work chose to do it in easiest way possible – opting to run the ducts below the joists and building bulkheads later. While I appreciate saving a little time and effort, I question the sanity of anyone who wants mud more drywall!

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