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Old 07-23-10, 09:19 AM   #1
SonataInFSharp
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Getting HVAC into a Room

Right now, we have this awesome 18x18+ room in our basement. (When the previous owners built the addition upstairs, they added on to the foundation below, as well.)

The problem is that there is no HVAC in this basement room. It's not a problem in the summer, but in the winter, it will be COLD. The previous owner left a huge wood burning stove in that room, but we don't want to use it because: 1) There is only 7-inch clearance instead of the 21 1/8 inches required as stamped on the unit; 2) the walls around it are regular drywall; 3) my wife's grandparents recently died in a fire in the basement, so she wants the stove out of there as soon as possible, and I agree with her.

So, we need a heat source in that room by winter (it will be our bedroom in about a year after the other baby is born).

We were thinking electric baseboard heat, but does that get expensive? Plus we wouldn't be able to have furniture along those walls with the baseboard heat. And I would have to add a breaker just for the heaters, right?

I would like to extend the HVAC into that room, but I don't know what that would involve. I am a do-it-yourselfer, so is this something that can be done without much risk?

The furnace is about only 15-18 feet away from where I would need it. Would I need just one run of ductwork? (the HVAC in the addition upstairs is just one vent into the room of the same size.)

Can I just stick on the ductwork to an existing duct and that is it?

What about fire prevention? What are the risks?

Would the furnace be able to handle another extention of the ductwork?

WHERE can I learn to do this? I can't imagine it is that tough, and I don't know why they didn't do it when they built the addition. It would just be one run of duct work from the furnace.

It would have to run under the ceiling since there is no room between the ceiling and the floor above.

Oooh, wait, some of the original foundation is still there, so I might have a nice cement wall in the way...

Thoughts? Anywhere anyone can point me?

P.S. When I remove the huge stove, what would I need to know about plugging the outlet into the chimney? Just stick some plywood over it? Or is there a whole process involved in capping the thing?
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Old 07-23-10, 09:49 AM   #2
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You should just be able to run duct work, make sure you put in an adjustable baffle so that you don't end up baking that room and freezing the rest of the house. I'm not sure how to determine if the heater can put out the extra heat. There's probably a heat output rating on the heater, but I'm not sure how that equates to house size (google?). As for the old waste stack, plywood in the hole with some sort of sealant should do, put something on the outside as well so critters don't decide to live in there.
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Old 07-23-10, 10:43 AM   #3
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Best bet is to make a separate trunk duct to each floor and put valve/baffle on each one at the source. That will give you enough range of adjustment once you add the register adjustment at each outlet. Don't forget to make a return path for the air back to the blower intake. Can't help you with sizing, try teh internetz or have someone who works in HVAC at least design your system and then you can build it out as time and $$$ arrive. If you find you're going to work on duct and trunks at the source, consider if you should move the heater/blower to gain space, I moved mine a few feet while doing a basement and it made a big difference in usable space. All that costs $$$, of course.
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Old 07-23-10, 01:19 PM   #4
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I understand what you mean by "trunk" and there are already three vents on the lower level.

I can't find the return path for the upstairs addition (I looked for it when I planned out the furniture so I wouldn't block it), so I wonder if it relies on the return from another room?

I might go the "hire someone to design it and I do the work myself" route.
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Old 07-23-10, 01:20 PM   #5
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As we go along, are there any opinions regarding installing baseboard heating? My wife is counting on me to at least consider options we think we have ruled out.
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Old 07-23-10, 01:28 PM   #6
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Sometimes the local utility company can help with this kind of advice. Maybe see if they have someone who does energy audits and such. Someone with this kind of knowledge might come out, take a look around, and make a suggestion or two.
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Old 07-23-10, 05:37 PM   #7
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If your local utility company cannot give you advice, you might also call around to your local vocational-technical centers (high school or post-secondary) - find one that teaches HVAC. They might be able to do the design part for you as a teaching project.

You might think about heated flooring instead of baseboard if you go the electric route. Or, you can pipe in a radient heat wall or re-do the floor with a closed water system & one of those tiny on-demand water heaters. We did a 1100 sq ft floor plus a 250 sq ft wall for under $4000.
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Old 07-23-10, 06:35 PM   #8
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Sonata, I did HVAC for a living some time ago and can tell you that without a hands on approach to the problem, noone can give you definite solutions.

1.) 18x18 is a fairly large space, how well is the room insulated?

2.) To find out the size of the furnace grab the manufacturers model #. In many cases, the last 2 digits in the model # will give you reference to the size.
5 ton FAU = 60 4 ton FAU = 48 . Basic Formula is 1 ton = 12 (12000btu). Unfortunately, this may not be the case for old FAU's.

3.) If the space is available consider adding a zone damper. I do not know the quality of insulation in the basement, or how extreme the winter can be, but 250cfm (cubic feet/min) should be more than enough to heat the basement.

A zoning damper will run around $150. You can utilize the 120v power source from the FAU and install a ($8)40va transformer which will give you 24 volts to your damper. Before running the wires to the damper run one of the leads through a ($3)basic light switch, which will act as an on-off when the room in unoccupied.

I am not a fan of electric heat, just my .02 cents, but it may be the easiest alternative. I would strongly consider getting a professional out there to take a look at the system and give you an opinion as well as a quote. Why? Besides the fact that they are professionals, you could have ducts running above the basement joists that may be used for the basement, but you would have to be careful not to lose air where you may need it most upstairs.
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