Find out how to relocate heating ducts. Learn about alternative heating options like electric baseboard heat.
LESLIE: Curtis in Indiana, you’re up. What can we do for you?
CURTIS: Hey, I have a quick question for you. I have this problem that – it’s an older home and the people that owned the house before me or whatever, they put the furnace  upstairs in the house and also the cold air return is upstairs. So more or less, my heat is circulating through the second story of my house and it’s extremely to efficiently heat the bottom floor.
TOM: So you have supply ducts on the first floor but you don’t have any return ducts on the first floor, is that correct?
CURTIS: Right. So of course the heating vents are in the ceilings of the first floor (inaudible).
TOM: Ah, that’s …
LESLIE: And you know heat rises.
TOM: Oh, that’s a really bad design. Heat rises. Whenever you put heating ducts on the ceiling – we used to see that occasionally in a development (ph) near me in the years I spent in the home inspection business. They used to take air conditioning systems and convert them to heating systems . But all the supply ducts were in the ceiling.
LESLIE: Are upstairs.
TOM: So, you’re going to need some redesign of this duct system, Curtis, in order to get this to balance right. Even putting a return on the first floor is not going to help you. When you’re supplying heat at the ceiling it’s going to stay at the ceiling. So you’re definitely going to need to consult with an HVAC contractor  to redesign that system in the least destructive way possible.
LESLIE: What about in the interim getting those duct fans that would sort of help push that air down?
TOM: You know, you could put a duct booster in there. But again, you’re pushing it down from the ceiling and that’s going to be a real – you’re pushing against gravity, Curtis. That’s the problem.
CURTIS: So, really what you’re saying, pretty much, is about the only way to actually solve this problem is to go ahead and have those ducts [rearranged underneath] (ph) underneath the house and push up through the floor.
TOM: Well, have them – have some additional ducts. You may want to leave the ones that are in place but you certainly are going to want to drop a couple of ducts down a wall somewhere to get some heat coming out lower. And then also put in a return duct.
CURTIS: Being this is already winter time and a big project like this probably will not happen this winter, I’m looking for a good way of just to subdue myself for this winter that wouldn’t be real costly. I know, for example, the little electric space heaters  don’t work very well. And that sort of thing. I was kind of looking for a good idea …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to provide some backup heat then – and again, this is temporary – I would use an electric baseboard  – permanently installed electric baseboard – on its own thermostat where you can control the supplemental heat with a thermostat and only turn it on when you need it. The advantage of it is it’s inexpensive to put in. The disadvantage is it’s costly to run. But if you’re using it just as supplemental heat on those cold days then it’s a good solution.
CURTIS: Hey, that sounds great. I do appreciate your time.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.