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  • Getting heat (and maybe AC?) to second floor.

    Hi All,
    First time here. Been reading a lot of posts. Lots of good info. I'm expecting to be coming back often!
    I'm looking to get heat to a second floor of an old house that doesn't have ducting (on the second floor). Main floor and basement are heated with forced air gas.
    I've been looking at different options such as mini split ac/heat pump, baseboard heaters (con: no ac), radiant wall heater (con:no ac), running ducts between joists between floors, running a main duct to the attic through an interior wall (con:bigger furnace needed?)

    I was leaning to the mini split, but then I would need three, one for each bedroom. Likely not to cost effective.

    I'm a diy person with time on my hands, so I would do any work I'm legally able to.

    Anyone have experience with such a project that can tell me about some of the pit falls and successes?
    Thanks!
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  • #2

    Re: Getting heat (and maybe AC?) to second floor.

    I had the same problem 40 years back. One bedroom i was able to feed from the crawl space up through a closet on the first floor. Two others were feed up along the sides of windows on the main floor and i just boxed in the windows and added window seats. For the fourth i had to go up inside an inside wall. Heat is no problem as it will rise easily, cold ( ac ) air is much harder to push and will require you to tune up your fan speed / hp whatever.

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    • #3

      Re: Getting heat (and maybe AC?) to second floor.

      I can't really help but I second what RV Sam says about the cold air being harder to push. I know of some people with central AC put into older 2 storey houses and the upstairs cooling isn't really the best. Cold air wants to fall down any open stairways and since it comes out at floor level it is too low in the room right away - this happens on the first floor too but the air velocity out of the duct is typically higher. Comes out low and runs along the surface of the floor to the cold-air return - not really the best air flow pattern. AC should come out at ceiling level but that's another complication.

      billh

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      • #4

        Re: Getting heat (and maybe AC?) to second floor.

        Have you looked into high-velocity small-duct home heating and cooling systems?
        Steve The Drill Sergeant
        Check out MyShopNotes on YouTube.

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        • #5

          Re: Getting heat (and maybe AC?) to second floor.

          Welcome to the Forum.

          Our house is two story plus basement; electric baseboard heating. I added air conditioning by means of flexible ducts run through the three levels and a blower in the attic. The AC compressor is outside, just like a regular forced air system. This works well for our scenario, since the cold air is coming into the house from the top (outlets in bedrooms upstairs and kitchen/dining room/lving room downstairs.

          For your scenario, one option could be to solve the heating part with electric baseboards as you already mentioned (if your electrical panel allows it) and possibly - need to validate with HVAC expert - divert air conditioning stream from your blower (possibly using an inline fan) and "pushing" cool air into the second floor through flexible ducts (I ran mine inside closets; not sure what flexibility you have). As RV Sam pointed out, moving the cold air up will be your challenge.

          Hope this helps,

          J.

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          • #6

            Re: Getting heat (and maybe AC?) to second floor.

            What a great forum this is! Thanks for you input guys!

            RV Sam, I was thinking about something along those lines as well. I didn't know that cool air was harder to push. Maybe in inline booster fan would do the trick, at least to get the air to the desired place. Maybe the AC unit would still be undersized. Something for me to think about and maybe contact someone that can do the math.

            Billh, ya, for the AC I think the only way I would install it is if I can get it coming from out from the ceiling. Even in the modern house I'm in now, the cool air has troubles circulating up from the vents.

            schor, I had looked into the HVSC but it look pretty involved. I'll take another look. Thanks for the suggestion.

            Jacques, thanks for the welcome. The blower you mention in the attic, is that sort of just an inline air booster?

            I should have mentioned this earlier, but the house doesn't have AC yet all. The previous owner only put in the forced gas heating. Which I thought was odd. I'm assuming the added cost of the AC at the time of installing the furnace would have been something to go with. Maybe they were $$ constrained like most of the rest of us!


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            • #7

              Re: Getting heat (and maybe AC?) to second floor.

              I suggest you think carefully about where you really need heat and AC. If it means running ducts you may save a lot of hassle by having a portable heater or AC unit in a guest room or any other room not used daily. In my case I only have AC in the living room/bedroom and it feels much cooler when you go in from a hotter room. It is a horrendous waste of energy to condition non essential space.

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              • #8

                Re: Getting heat (and maybe AC?) to second floor.

                Originally posted by Whatamigettinginto View Post

                Jacques, thanks for the welcome. The blower you mention in the attic, is that sort of just an inline air booster?


                Since we only had electric baseboard units, we needed to find a way to provide airflow throughout the house. The solution was to install a blower (the furnace body without heating elements, but with the cooling unit for AC) in the attic. A plenum was installed to allow distribution of the air directly into all rooms upstairs. The rest of the house was serviced by means of flexible ducts. Layers of insulation material were put over top of everything to minimize energy losses.

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                • #9

                  Re: Getting heat (and maybe AC?) to second floor.

                  Your furnace should have been sized for the house even if it was only going to the first floor. What size is the house and what size is the furnace? Ducting would be your best option.
                  Jerome
                  Canada's South Coast

                  Port Colborne On.
                  Every loaf of bread is a tragic tale of grains that could've become beer.......but didn't....

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                  • #10

                    Re: Getting heat (and maybe AC?) to second floor.

                    Originally posted by Jerome View Post
                    Your furnace should have been sized for the house even if it was only going to the first floor. What size is the house and what size is the furnace? Ducting would be your best option.
                    Thanks for the input Jerome.
                    It is a 2000 square foot house. The furnace is a Colman FCS100C16UP11A. I'm trying to determine what size this represents but can't really find too much.
                    I can see it is 1600 CFM, Max air temp 175, 3/4 hp motor. But I'm not able find other specifications related to BTUs or anything like that.

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                    • #11

                      Re: Getting heat (and maybe AC?) to second floor.

                      Its 100 thousand Btu and should be large enough for your house, a 2 tonne AC would be a good match. Use 6-inch duct to upper rooms and if you have any way to get a cold air return upstairs put one vent floor level that can be opened and closed and one ceiling height which can also be opened and closed. Open the top one in the summer to draw the warm air through the ac and open the bottom in the winter.
                      Jerome
                      Canada's South Coast

                      Port Colborne On.
                      Every loaf of bread is a tragic tale of grains that could've become beer.......but didn't....

                      Comment

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                      • #12

                        Re: Getting heat (and maybe AC?) to second floor.

                        Originally posted by Jerome View Post
                        Its 100 thousand Btu and should be large enough for your house, a 2 tonne AC would be a good match. Use 6-inch duct to upper rooms and if you have any way to get a cold air return upstairs put one vent floor level that can be opened and closed and one ceiling height which can also be opened and closed. Open the top one in the summer to draw the warm air through the ac and open the bottom in the winter.
                        Many Thanks Jerome!
                        I don't take possession for a few weeks. I'm working through all the things I'd like to do and prioritize them. This is high on the list.

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                        • #13

                          Re: Getting heat (and maybe AC?) to second floor.

                          Typically a 2 story house is cooled by a dual zone AC using a box in the duct system that directs the air where needed via a thermostat on each floor. Or, as with older homes still with older working ACs, a separate unit on each floor. My old house has ducts running thru 1st floor ceiling (floor above) with registers to rooms below and above. The main trunk line from furnace in laundry room ran thru wall into kitchen at the ceiling and then into the ceiling" it was all exposed. I built a chase and dry walled everything. As far as AC, one 12000 BTU window unit downstairs and one the same size in a 2nd floor landing cools this house. I only have about 1300 ft to cool, though.

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