Fix for Poor HVAC Design
LESLIE: John from Texas is on the line and has a question about an attic.
But John, you’re on the road right now?
JOHN: I’m shut down. I just got to my stop.
TOM: OK, good. Well, how can we help you, John?
JOHN: I’ve got a crawlspace in my house for the attic …?
JOHN: But it doesn’t have a ladder or nothing on it. It’s just a hole in the ceiling where you get into the attic. But I just moved into this house in July. But the people who did the heating and A/C, they stuck the return air duct through that crawlspace. And it’s just kind of sitting and hanging over my hallway wall or hallway walkway. And there’s nothing around it. It’s a big rectangular opening in the crawlspace and then the – like an 8- to 10-inch, 12-inch round duct.
TOM: So, John, are you telling me they blocked off the only access you had to this attic by laying a duct on top of it?
JOHN: Yes, sir. It’s actually the end of the return air where it pulls in the air for the heating-and-cooling system.
TOM: Oh, you mean they used your only attic opening as the return duct? Is that what they did?
JOHN: Yes, sir.
TOM: That was really dumb. Oh, really dumb.
JOHN: I know. And it’s just sitting there. There’s nothing. The four corners of the rectangle box is just right open to the attic. And my heating bill went from $200 to $350 in December.
TOM: They were idiots and you can quote me on that, OK? And I don’t know if you want to get them back there because they did such a lousy job. But we actually have parts of HVAC systems that are designed for this very use. There’s a grill that basically gets installed in the ceiling and on the other side of it, it’s ready to receive the duct. And there’s no leakage around it or anything.
So, you need to have a proper return put in. You don’t have that right now and you absolutely should not have that big, open hole because you’re right: all that heat’s going to go up in the attic. And then once it is gone, then you can decide if you want to put the attic hatch back, if you want to add an attic stair. And you can insulate and weather-strip that opening and keep the heat on the side of the house it should be on.
TOM: Alright, John? So, they’re in the wrong here; you’re in the right. So, I would go after them and have them get back and finish this job. It’s completely unfinished and it needs to be addressed. Good luck, John. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
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