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need heating and cooling advice

JoshC

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Alright, here's what we've got. Our upstairs has no central heat and air. The down stairs does. There are 2 bedrooms and a bath upstairs. The rooms are about 12x24 and the bath is a good size, not sure how big. Down stairs we have a great room instead of a tv room and a dining room. We are thinking about putting in a free standing wood stove down stairs. The place where we would put it would have it blowing air right up toward the steps. In the winter is stays decently warm up here. So here's my question. Should we just go with a cooling unit for the upstairs to cut on the cost of getting heat too.

We'll probably do this after the winter, cause we're going to see how the stove heats the upstairs. I know there are some experts on here, so i thought i'd give it a shoot. Also, what would a unit cost for this?
 


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hvac man

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Hey Josh, what is heating the upstairs? Does this house have some other heat source, other than forced air? Is the first story at ground level or is below ground level?
 




Robb

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Josh, be sure to bump this sometime tommorrow night. I can probably add some advice, just not right now. :D
 




JoshC

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First floor is above ground level. Upstairs has baseboard heat but we never use them. No other source of heat except for the forced air and soon to be fire place.
 




VBVA

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Uh oh, two heating and cooling specialists are ready to answer your questions. Watch out Josh, they'll try and sell you commercial grade equipment without you knowing it ;)
 




SteveVB

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start an HVAC board?

You HVAC guys- are there any HVAC boards??.

Im doing a remodel of a 3000 SF town house in DC in which we are excavating the basement to add a separate base apart with its own system, and the 3 above ground floors on another system ( or 2). We have had a couple HVAC guys in and they are all coming at this from different directions- Ive had estimates from 12-42k and all of them seem reasonable, but not similar enough to knock them out. I need to educate myself a bit - any sources.

Sorry to jack the thread Josh, just thought Id ask since the HAVC hguys have eyeballs on this.
 




TravisC

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ttt
 




Robb

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Josh,
When you say that the upstairs has "baseboard heat", do you mean electric or water? Electric is crappy (I live with it), but fin-tube radiators are a great source for comfortable heat.

Do you know what tonnage the existing A/C unit is? If not, throw me a model name/number and I can probably look it up. The reason I ask is because a lot of homeowners are "sold" on oversized units (greedy salesmen) and you may, just maybe, have enough capacity to run some duct upstairs for coolong. This would also help with returning some of that hot air downstairs and supplying it upstairs via using just the fan of the air handler. Also, I take it that, since only the downstairs is on a unit, the unit and ductwork is in a crawl space. True?

Also, would your family have any problem running window AC units? Your house sounds a little like my wife's old house with the upstairs solely being too big bedrooms and a bath. Are both bedrooms used constantly? I wouldn't worry with the bathroom, I am not a big fan of supplying air to bathrooms. So, your main interest would be two individual bedrooms. IMO, unless money isn't much of an object, I would consider a window unit for the bedrooms if the need for cooling arises. A HVAC TAB guy should be shot for saying that, but I believe it to be true. The cost of placing a condensor unit, an air handler, the ductwork, and the plumbing and electrical may simply be cost prohibitive for a two room application.

These are just thoughts off the top of my head. I am a little unclear of the exact question. Are you worried about the heating or the cooling upstairs? Or both?

Steve,
I personally don't know of any good boards or sites that are HVAC specific. What kind of directions are people coming from to create such a diversity in quotes? $42K for 3000 SF is just ridiculous, not matter how fancy you get.
 




hvac man

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Josh,

If I were you I would compare the cost of the window units and the cost of the combo roof top units and see where you come up. I know for a window mount you are looking at about 300 each, and for the roof top you might be in the neiborhood of 1500. The window mounts are easily installed but will send your electric bill through the roof plus you have to take it out and put back in in the summer and winter. The roof top is going to be more money up front but more cost efective in the end. You also get heat. If you have an attic this kind of unit can be installed fairly easy. I have done them for as little as 2500 up to 3300 depending on the size and detail of the install. I would also recommend the roof top for resale value. If installed properly you might be able to reap the bennefits on the first level by running the fan only on the down stairs furnace, to circulate the air down there also. There are so many variables to this it is hard to diagnose without looking at it. I would call around and get a few estimates from some local guys and see what it would cost to do it right. The guys that are the biggest HVAC company are not always the best or the cheapest so call around before you decide. If you get frustrated E-mail me some pics of the house and I'll try and work something up for you.
 




SteveVB

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Originally posted by Robb
Steve,
I personally don't know of any good boards or sites that are HVAC specific. What kind of directions are people coming from to create such a diversity in quotes? $42K for 3000 SF is just ridiculous, not matter how fancy you get.

Well the high estimate has a HP in the base apartment, a new Unico unit for the first and second floors, and a separate roof mounted HP for the top floor- so 3 units. The top and bsmt units and install are in the 8000 range, and the unico install was 26. The low estimate keeps existing Hot Water system and adds a/c on main house, small HP in basement.
My guesses were 4-5000 for a small HP plus simple ducting, and 10- 15 for a retrofit with a High velocity system running new ducts through existing walls and ceilings. But I have no idea. The guys I used when I was contracting are no longer available- one retired, and the other moved to NC during the building slump here in the 90s.
Im trying to get a handle on the equipment and costs- the architect recommended the expensive guy and from his costs Im guessing he doesnt want the work.
Another problem is that the owner is putting the apt in now, but not doing any extensive remodel upstairs until "later" so Im guessing as to use and location of all sorts of things - like a new plumbing stack etc.
I really wish we were remodeling the main house first and then installing the apt- would make decision making so much easier.
I was hoping I could get some backround to speak more intelligently with the HVAC guys - an area I am very very weak in when it comes to systems in a house, and retro fitting is a whole other set of problems.

Thanks
 




JoshC

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Thanks for the replies guys. I do not know what size mine is that i have right now Robb, but i'll look that up for your, or at least the name and number.

My parents are also having another unit put in in their house and my dad was talking to a friend of his that does HVAC work or whatever it is, and he said he just got a new trade in on a 2ton and he'd give it to me for 400 bucks. He told dad from what dad told him it would cost in the 20s to have it done. But would it not be cheaper for me to just do the duct work myself this winter when i can take my time at it. We do have an attic which is good cause i would going to point the vents down.

The reason we want air up here is because we are going to be having (hopefully) a kid or two in the next couple of years or so, and we'd like to have it all done and the bugs worked out before we even thought about having kids. We have one window unit but last year i opened the window and it fell out with the cord still in the wall, whoops! It's probably fixable but i haven't checked it yet. But right now, i come up here to get on my computer and that's about the extent of the use, that's why we are in no huge hurry to do this.
 




JoshC

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I think that since i started this thread, my current unit got mad at me and decided to quit working at 11:30 friday night:( It has been really really hot this weekend. My new freaking work schedule sucks so bad that i don't know when i'm going to be home to let someone in to fix it, my wife's at the beach until wednesday evening. This sucks!

Anyways, Robb i never did get the number off my unit outside and it's raining now.

But friday night i had it the AC on and we were laying in bed talking and i heard the AC go off and the breaker kicked and we could smell something burning. The breaker for the inside unit is the one that kicked and as for the burning smell i'm guessing the blower motor, but i don't have a clue what's in the unit. The place where i replace the filter is a General AC-1, but the other half says York on it. Do these things have belt driven motor or something?
 




hvac man

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Damn Josh, It doesn't sound good :( Does your fan still come on if you turn the T-stat to the fan on, cooling off position?
 




JoshC

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No nothing works. I've hopefully got a guy coming tonight to look at it, but we'll see!
 




hvac man

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Well good luck, hopefully it's not too expensive.
 




JoshC

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Finally got it fixed. It ended up being the transformer in the furnase. LUCKY! It was only 90 bucks to fix it! It works now and i'm one happy man:D

Still gotta figure out what we want to do for the upstairs. I can buy an AC unit only can't I? That's what we are leaning on. May putting the ductwork in ourselves this winter then worry about the unit next spring or so.
 




JoshC

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Oh by the way Robb, he told me that my heat pump was only a 2ton. Kind of small i think for the house, but it works fine. I'd have to tear up my ceilings for the duct work for upstairs wouldn't I?
 








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