Cold air return in basement

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Hello there, We have a forced hot air variable speed furnace. We just had an HVAC company put 3 heating vents and 2 returns in our finished basement. The basement is about 1000 sq.ft. We have been told that our furnace should be sufficient to heat the basement. However, we have a very cool basement. The heat ducts are on the exterior wall at the floor and the returns are on the same wall but near the ceiling. We thought the returns should be on the floor since cold air sinks. Our HVAC guys argue that the returns are on the top of the wall to create airflow/air pressure. Are they correct? We no longer trust their judgement since our basement is so cold, but they are willing to come back and make adjustments. Where should the returns be? Also, would it help to cut additional heat vents out of the main duct on the ceiling? What do you suggest they do? Thanks so much for your time.
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Jody wrote:

I am no pro here, but I would think the returns would be more effective on the opposite side of the room away from the outside and close to the floor.
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Joseph Meehan

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Im not a Hvac pro but have done basement remodeling. I dont think it is worth an argument over placement , you will have circulation. but you do need them to add more supplys to just get in more heat, and they agreed to do that.
A thing I have found is on many remodels, basements are cool if underground completely, on my last one I had to remove and insulate all the ducts as even with the vents off the basement needed a heater in summer just from the cold air passing through to the upstairs, I hope you considered this. Many basements just need a Dehumidifier and the return open in summer as humidity is the issue when it is warm out.
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I think they did it backwards, myself. If the returns are above the supply, then the warm air can just come out of the vents, up the wall, and through the returns, never touching the rest of the basement. That only works if they do *ALL* the walls, so that the basement is in an envelope of warm air. If they can swap the returns and supply, that's one way to fix it.

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Okay, does anyone know how to fix the problem?

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Jody wrote:

To fix the problem takes a professional with some experience who knows what they are doing and does the work (math) to measure what you really need. Clearly the one you had did not.
My only suggestion is to ask around to find a good professional as recommended by people who have used them.
They should do a manual J and manual D computation. Somehow I doubt if the one you had bothered, or maybe does not even know what they are.

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Joseph Meehan

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Thanks Joseph, Unfortunately we cannot spend any more money on this basement and having a new HVAC company come in will mean a lot more money. We have to have the guys who did the work fix the work. They are willing to make the adjustments at no charge. I cannot be ripping drywall down that was just put up and finished. I guess I'll ad some vents off the ceiling on the main duct and have them move the returns to the floor. Thanks for your responses and time.

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Hi Jody, hope you are having a nice day
On 08-Mar-05 At About 06:29:56, Jody wrote to All Subject: Re: Cold air return in basement
J> Thanks Joseph, Unfortunately we cannot spend any more money on this J> basement and having a new HVAC company come in will mean a lot more J> money. We have to have the guys who did the work fix the work. They J> are willing to make the adjustments at no charge. I cannot be J> ripping drywall down that was just put up and finished. I guess I'll J> ad some vents off the ceiling on the main duct and have them move J> the returns to the floor. Thanks for your responses and time.
The supply vents on a heating system should be near the floor due to the fact heat rises. if you put them in the ceiling you will usually have cold feet :) where is the thermostat located for this system?
-=> HvacTech2 <=-
.. By the time I have money to burn, my fire will be out.
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The thermostat is on the first floor, not on a separate thermostat. I can't get any more heat vents on the floor as the basement is not finished. All I can do is cut additional ones in the ceiling to add more heat. The other thing I could do is move the returns to the floor. You are right about the cold feet. That is why I had the HVAC guys come in and put ducts from the main vent on ceiling down to the bottom of the walls. I assumed he would know how many would be suffient and on which walls to put them. That is why I paid for a professional to do it, to avoid having a cold basement. It really sucks when you pay a professional to do something and they screw it all up and then think they are still right.
And, thank you, I am having a nice day:)

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Hi Jody, hope you are having a nice day
On 08-Mar-05 At About 10:06:12, Jody wrote to All Subject: Re: Cold air return in basement
J> The thermostat is on the first floor, not on a separate thermostat. I J> can't get any more heat vents on the floor as the basement is not J> finished. All I can do is cut additional ones in the ceiling to add J> more heat. The other thing I could do is move the returns to the J> floor. You are right about the cold feet. That is why I had the J> HVAC guys come in and put ducts from the main vent on ceiling J> down to the bottom of the walls. I assumed he would know how many J> would be suffient and on which walls to put them. That is why I J> paid for a professional to do it, to avoid having a cold basement. J> It really sucks when you pay a professional to do something J> and they screw it all up and then think they are still right.
This could also be part of the problem. if it is on the upstairs thermostat you may need to have the system balanced or maybe even a zoning system.
-=> HvacTech2 <=-
.. URA Redneck if you keep your thermostat on 85 in the winter.
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Zoning system sounds expensive. We really can't afford to sink any more money into this basement. I don't know much about balancing.

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The return vents on a heating system should be near the floor on outside walls because cool air falls and loses less energy to the outdoors. The supply vents should be near the ceiling on inside walls, keeping warm air away from cool walls and taking advantage of flow due to warm air bouyancy.
Nick
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Hi snipped-for-privacy@ece.villanova.edu, hope you are having a nice day
On 08-Mar-05 At About 21:02:00, snipped-for-privacy@ece.villanova.edu wrote to All Subject: Re: Cold air return in basement
n> From: snipped-for-privacy@ece.villanova.edu
n> > The supply vents on a heating system should be near the floor due n> to the > fact heat rises.
n> The return vents on a heating system should be near the floor on n> outside walls because cool air falls and loses less energy to the n> outdoors. The supply vents should be near the ceiling on inside n> walls, keeping warm air away from cool walls and taking advantage of n> flow due to warm air bouyancy.
n> Nick
Wrong. If you put the diffusers near the ceiling you will have cold feet as the hot air will never make it to the floor. on any forced air system the diffusers should be near the floor for heat and up high on the wall for cooling as the cold air falls. some higher end systems will have both and a damper setup which you can switch every season. but most have them only near the floor as dual duct systems are expensive.
-=> HvacTech2 <=-
.. "I put hardwood floors on top of wall-to-wall carpet." - s.w.
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Have you tried to speak to the owner of the company? Maybe you didn't get to talk to the right person and the owner doesn't even know he has an idiot working for him. I Googled around a little and it was easy to find several plans for ductwork and even though some of them had both floor and ceiling supply ducts, they ALL had returns at or near the floor. Some also had returns up high for air conditioning.
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Kathy, Yep, family run business. I had the owner himself in. I agree with you and I told him that but he just insists he is right and we are wrong. Since they are "the expert" he is going to believe me. I just wish I could prove it to them somehow. I need to have them fix it so I have to be careful of what I do and say. Thanks for looking into it for me. Everything I could find pretty much recommended the same thing. Although other HVAC guys have said the returns would be fine at the ceiling if I had enough heat coming out of the vents.

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Jody wrote:

All you need do is bring him down there and ask him why HIS system is not working. If it were working you would be warm and comfortable.

No you don't. You are right He is wrong. If you fails to follow up quickly, it is time to take the issue to his licensing board.

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Joseph Meehan

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You dont need to do anything but get him to provide more heat-vents. You are second guessing him and should just let him fix it. It will work with your returns , you need more supply.
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m Ransley wrote:

I would not assume that more heat vents or moved heat vents or any specific fix is needed. What is needed is a comfortable basement. How that is accomplished is the job of the contractor. Telling him how to do his job is only asking for and deserving and answer later, that "I did what you told me so my job is done, it is not my fault it did not work"
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I agree JM, but if it isnt more supplys then what? It has to need more supplys , it is near 60 and 3 are what they have that were routed to the floor. I agree dont direct the Pro but more supply is logical, I just finished my underground basement and kept putting in more supplys till it equaled the upstairs. I have 3 very large for 600sq, they have 3 for 1000. Their easiest and cheapest rout is more supply.
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m Ransley wrote:

It's really hard to say from here. The only viable solution may be some form of zoning or supplemental heat. Maybe the current system is really not large enough to handle it. Additional returns, larger or more ducts. Just adding more supplies from the same duct, may just screw up the heat to the second floor. As I said, I can't see it from here, and frankly, I would call a pro in since I don't have the experience or training to do it. I have to admit I have done it a couple of times and it has turned out very well, but I would guess that was more accident than anything else.
In the end, it may be just more supplies, I know of no reason it could not be.

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Joseph Meehan

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