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Cold Air Won’t Circulate Upstairs

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Larry in Illinois, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    LARRY: Yeah, I’ve got an old house – it’s like about 100 jillion years old – and we moved into about – oh, about …

    TOM: A hundred jillion. That’s a lot. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: (chuckles) Is that what you said?

    LARRY: Everything about this house is old. I’ve had satellite TV put in; I’ve had drills – and then they tried to drill through the walls. “This is pure oak.” I said, “Well, I can imagine.” It’s just an old house that – it’s sturdy; it’s a nice house.

    And the problem I have is I’ve got a central air unit downstairs and it doesn’t seem to want to – the air doesn’t seem to want to go upstairs. I’ve had a ceiling fan at the top of our stairs; tried to draw the air up. Doesn’t seem to work.

    When I had the house rewired, I had a 220 line put upstairs in the attic just in case I need to put a unit – I guess some old houses have attic units since the central air doesn’t go all the way upstairs.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Right.

    LARRY: I have one vent that goes upstairs; goes to my daughter’s room. She loves it. Well, the rest of the upstairs has to suffer because she shuts her door. It really wouldn’t circulate anyway, so …

    TOM: Right.

    LARRY: I guess one of my options is – do I try to pipe another pipe upstairs to go to the attic to distribute the air or do I get an attic unit to do the job for the upstairs?

    TOM: Well, it depends. I mean if the duct system is installed correctly – and that means you have the right number of supply and return registers, you can have one central system that handles both floors.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and the dampers have to be properly adjusted from the air handler in the basement or the attic.

    TOM: But that really depends on whether or not the system is big enough, first; and secondly, whether or not you could run the right sized ducting. Obviously, having one supply with your daughter is not going to do the trick.

    LARRY: I was told the central air unit wasn’t really big enough, so he was trying to sell me one upstairs in the attic. So …

    TOM: Well, I mean having two zones with two separate systems is not a bad thing to do but it’s an expensive alternative. I would want to know if there’s a way that I could run enough duct work, supply and return, to that second floor to avoid that because that’s going to be the least expensive thing to do right now and the least expensive system to run. Because remember, if you have two systems, you have two compressors, you have two air handlers and you have two bills to run it.

    LARRY: Right. So do I just call somebody up that does like heating and air conditioning and ask their appraisal of it and see what I need to do with that from then on or …?

    TOM: You would need to have a good HVAC contractor to help you with this. Yes.

    LARRY: OK. OK.

    TOM: It’s not a DIY project.

    LARRY: OK. Well, I sure appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

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