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Ask me anything about HVAC heating air conditioning air quality control

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[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2007
1059 posts
109 upvotes
Markham
dolphie wrote:
Jan 31st, 2008 5:21 pm
Here's a question, more out of curiosity than anything.
I live in a 26 year old home, with the original furnace. I hear ungodly things about how inefficient it must be. I know the motor was replaced about 7 years ago, and all the bearings last year. (this probably has no effect on efficiency, but thought i'd toss it in there)
We're in a two storey, about 1500 square feet, and keep our heat at about 21C.
Question is this: we only pay $111.00 for our heat a month, equal billing. We've been here 3 years, and it's been fairly even the entire three years.
If i actually spent a shitton and replaced my furnace, will i realistically see a bill of 40 - 50 percent less, like every salesman tells me?
A gas bill for a family of 4 at 60 or 70 bucks a month just seems inconceivable to me-is it?
There is abosolutely no way you would be able to heat your house for 50% of that cost. By the sound of it, you are very good as it is with not overusing your heating system. Do you know if it is a mid-efficiency furnace? if you, they have a much lower rating than high efficiency, but when we do heat calc's on some of them they are running at 80%+. The best thing to do would be to spend the money on doing a heat calculation to see how your furnace is runing, that way you will know how much of a difference it will make.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2007
1059 posts
109 upvotes
Markham
Bullseye wrote:
Jan 31st, 2008 1:30 pm
An HRV or ERV won't save you money on heating. In fact, it will cost you slightly more, as they aren't 100% efficient (more like 80-85%).

Brian - what do you mean by an ERV 'recycling' air and saving on heating? The only difference that I know of between an HRV and an ERV is that the ERV has a moisture exchanger as well, so it's also good for the summer. An HRV you might as well just unplug in summer.

More info here for those who want to read;

http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-Inve ... entilators
The ERV actually does save on heating and cooling costs, although it may be minimal, and especially compared to having an HRV. Reason being is it uses the heat/cold from the stale air to preheat the fresh air coming in before it reaches the furnace/air con coil. This takes the load off of the furnace.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2007
1059 posts
109 upvotes
Markham
susan123 wrote:
Jan 31st, 2008 2:26 pm
I have one room that is freezing in the winter and too hot in the summer. I know it likely has to do with distance from the furnace/AC, but are there any suggestions to help at all? I had one contractor talk about a heat vent cover that has a fan but I have never seen one, nor does it sound like it will work?!
Depending on the area, we can come take a look and see the different options. Having a vent cover, floor register, with a fan isn't the best solution as you would be "pulling" the air from the basement. I am guessing this is a room right over the garage?

What we can do, is a heat balance on the house. Is the basement finished?

We can also add fan(s) at the bottom of the pipe, pushing the air up which is far more effective, but the same idea. Most of the time we find that the original installer put too many 90 degree angles in the pipe, or changed the direction too much, and we can always increase the pressure.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2007
1059 posts
109 upvotes
Markham
Ticallion wrote:
Jan 31st, 2008 3:47 pm
Hi,

I bought a new construction house in September, and noted that the fresh air intake is not plumbed into the "intake" PVC pipe of the furnace. This causes a fair bit of a draft from the furnace room into the finished basement (no fence, field in the back, quite a bit of wind hitting the vent).

Is there anything i can do about this? The hose coming from the fresh air intake is a corrugated plastic type hose wrapped in insulation, with a rolled sheetmetal end. The pipe on the furnace is PVC. How can I attach them together, and is this a smart thing to do?

Thanks,
Ross
you don't want to just randomly connect anything. I am not sure what your set-up looks like by your description. Is there anyway you can take a picture and post it here so I can see, maybe I can be of further help then.
Deal Fanatic
Feb 1, 2006
9113 posts
227 upvotes
bririp wrote:
Jan 31st, 2008 5:48 pm
The ERV actually does save on heating and cooling costs, although it may be minimal, and especially compared to having an HRV. Reason being is it uses the heat/cold from the stale air to preheat the fresh air coming in before it reaches the furnace/air con coil. This takes the load off of the furnace.
An ERV and an HRV both use exchanger baffles to preheat incoming fresh air with outgoing stale air, not sure why you think it's only an ERV that does that.

The only energy savings with either is the reduced load on your A/C if you have an ERV, as it removes some moisture before feeding the air into the system. An HRV will save no energy, and in fact lose some because the heat exchange system is not 100% efficient.

No offense to you, but I've found this to be a very common problem with HVAC guys, with regards to HRV/ERV's. Nine out of ten of them that I speak to don't actually know anything about them other than passing knowledge. I don't blame the HVAC guys for not knowing, as these are still not common products, so they haven't had a chance to learn yet.
Deal Addict
Apr 11, 2003
1435 posts
3 upvotes
Hi, I started a thread asking about this a while back. I am finishing my basement and wanted to move my furnace over about 7 inches or so closer to the exterior wall. It probably doesn't seem like much but the layout of my basement isn't very good and I figure after studs and drywall are put up it's going to be a very narrow area to walk through. It's probably hard to say without looking at the layout but I was wondering how much and how costly something like that would be to do.

Also I was wondering about placement of the vents in the basement. Is it better to have them (the supply and the cold air return) in the ceiling or run them down to the floor? There is already an opening that taps into the cold air return that is about 7 feet from the furnace. Any advice you could provide would be great.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Feb 24, 2005
1227 posts
84 upvotes
Toronto
Hi OP, thanks for offering your advice.

I have a gas-heated hot water radiator system (90-year old house) with a couple of issues.

One is that there is water coming from what seems to be an overflow pipe on the furnace - I'm collecting and dumping about a gallon a day, so that can't be right, can it? I've looked but don't see anything to adjust - any hints? Time to call a pro?

The second issue is that the downstairs rads get much hotter than the upstairs rads- is there something that can be done about that to even out the heat distribution? Also/for example, can I turn off an individual radiator (e.g. one of the downstairs ones?) Each rad has a pipe in and a pipe out, with a valve on one pipe, but the valves on all the rads seem stuck and I've had some unfortunate experiences forcing valves before, plus I'm not sure what that would do to flow through the system (each rad seems to have a branch off and return from the main line, so it should be ok, but not sure).

Third, the house had a kitchen extension built on about 50 years ago and they ran a hot water pipe to a finned radiator (looks like a copper pipe running through a row of fins like those in an electric baseboard heater) that really throws off very little heat. Anything I can do about that kitchen heating (insulate the pipes to it, put in bigger pipes to it, install a proper hot water radiator)?

Fourth, is putting that foam tube insulation over the heating system pipes in the basement worth the money and effort?

thanks!
[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2007
1059 posts
109 upvotes
Markham
mallik wrote:
Feb 2nd, 2008 12:14 am
Hi, I started a thread asking about this a while back. I am finishing my basement and wanted to move my furnace over about 7 inches or so closer to the exterior wall. It probably doesn't seem like much but the layout of my basement isn't very good and I figure after studs and drywall are put up it's going to be a very narrow area to walk through. It's probably hard to say without looking at the layout but I was wondering how much and how costly something like that would be to do.

Also I was wondering about placement of the vents in the basement. Is it better to have them (the supply and the cold air return) in the ceiling or run them down to the floor? There is already an opening that taps into the cold air return that is about 7 feet from the furnace. Any advice you could provide would be great.
This could vary from each example. Depending on the placement, there could be a little or quite a bit of work to move it 7 inches. You also have to remember there are codes which make you leave enough clearance for different parts.

Once again, I would offer my services to come and take a look and give you a better idea about costs involved.

thanks
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jan 28, 2008
1177 posts
29 upvotes
Sarnia
If you're emptying all that water each and everyday you have backup pressure problems or a stuck water intake valve. When you're not getting heat to the upstairs it usually means their is air in the system stopping the hot water etc etc etc... With any hot water heating system (it's referred to as a hydronic heating system) you MUST perform at least one annual system check to remove air from the pipes etc. So many people who inherit these things haven't got a clue.
I strongly strongly suggest you call in a knowledgable heating contractor who is well versed in these. He can take a look at it.. bleed the air out.. check the valves and save you a ton of grief if you try and do it yourself the first time loosening all those stuck valves which won't close properly when you go to close them and therefore drip or leak water leaving you scrambling.

And while he's there stay with him and have him explain how the whole system works because you should know the basics. I was in a similar boat as you a few years ago and that's what I did. Now everything works great.
I had him install an automatic airbleeding valve on the pipe down near the boiler and that saves having to remove the air manually from each radiator or baseboard as often.
It'll be money well spent
Deal Addict
Dec 4, 2004
1982 posts
7 upvotes
Kingston
Do you know if it is a mid-efficiency furnace?
no idea. any easy way to check?
The best thing to do would be to spend the money on doing a heat calculation to see how your furnace is runing, that way you will know how much of a difference it will make.
cool. i've got a buddy who works in HVAC, he should be able to do this for me, perhaps for some beer :)
thanks a ton for the advice.... i really thought we weren't doing too badly in terms of consumption/payment level either.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Feb 24, 2005
1227 posts
84 upvotes
Toronto
pkguy wrote:
Feb 2nd, 2008 8:22 pm
If you're emptying all that water each and everyday you have backup pressure problems or a stuck water intake valve...
I strongly strongly suggest you call in a knowledgable heating contractor who is well versed in these.
Okay, thank you, your response is most helpful, glad to hear it is theoretically fixable. Can you/anyone recommend a good hydronic heating person for Leslieville/Toronto/GTA?
Deal Addict
Mar 25, 2005
1136 posts
17 upvotes
Just general information on the trade... what, in your opinion, is the best route to pursue a career in this type of trade? (Technician, Installer, etc..)

How did you get into it? Apprenticeship? College Program?

Thanks for your time answering and helping us out. :)
Sr. Member
Oct 8, 2002
604 posts
15 upvotes
Mississauga
More of a general question to anyone, how effective are the "rolling filter" humidifiers that are attached to the ducts near the furnace? Reason I'm asking is, it seems to be working, there is water and the filter is turning, only when the furnace is on, of course. My house humidity level will not go above 30% according to the thermostat and my cigar hygrometer. :)
Is this what I can expect or should the humidity be getting higher? I've had it turned on for the last week or so.
Deal Addict
Mar 9, 2005
1730 posts
45 upvotes
Vaughan
I installed Swordfish UV light from Home Depot.

How good/bad is it compared to other UV lights?

Now that I have this UV to kill bacteria, what would be a good choice filter for me that would allow better airflow than that expensive 3M filter?
Sr. Member
Oct 8, 2002
604 posts
15 upvotes
Mississauga
Quick_lude wrote:
Feb 4th, 2008 3:42 pm
More of a general question to anyone, how effective are the "rolling filter" humidifiers that are attached to the ducts near the furnace? Reason I'm asking is, it seems to be working, there is water and the filter is turning, only when the furnace is on, of course. My house humidity level will not go above 30% according to the thermostat and my cigar hygrometer. :)
Is this what I can expect or should the humidity be getting higher? I've had it turned on for the last week or so.
Actually scratch that, my digital hygrometer is reporting 45% humidity so I guess the thermostat is wrong.
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