Home heating question

Hello, I'm looking for some advice on installing a new heating system/method for my home. First of all, here is my current situation. 45 year old home, 2 floors, each floor has about 950 sq.ft of floorspace, each floor is a separate unit. All heating is done by an older non-efficient gas furnace with the thermostat in the tenant's unit (lower floor). The heating ducts run between the two units, and branch up to the floor registers (upper unit) and down the wall to the lower unit's registers. There isn't any access to the heating ducts, except for when it first leaves the furnace. Typical winter temps have lows of 0 to -5C ( 30 to 40 F) and highs of 0 to 8C (40 to 56F). The lower unit is cooler than the upper, so either the tenant will be cold or we'll be too hot. The method of heating is very inefficient. Both units have a wood fireplace in the SW corner of the house (the fireplaces are not used), and the bedrooms are in the NE corner of the house.
One solution I was thinking of was to install high-efficiency gas fireplaces in each unit, and turn off the furnace (I'm looking at fireplaces that output 22,000 btu). This would be good because each unit would have complete control over their temp. I'm very unsure if this will heat the bedrooms though: the heat will have to pass from the living rooms down a hall and into the bedrooms. Can anyone offer insight or experience with this type of situation? If needed, I can always add electric heaters to the bedrooms, but that would involve hiring electricians to feed new 240V lines to the rooms, etc. More $$, which would seem silly have spending up to $4000cdn for new fireplaces.
Any thoughts or other suggestions?
thanks
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Sluggo wrote:
You have a situation where someone needs to be on site to have any idea about what the options are. I don't like your suggestion however. I don't think anyone will be happy with it.
Get a good contractor. 90% of how happy you will end up being is based on the contractor and his/her knowledge and judgment.
You are likely to be surprised to find they come up with some solutions you never thought of.
BTW if they don't do a survey and calculate the loads, they are not doing their job and are not good contractors.

--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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Wouldn't the easiest and logical option be to put additional electrical heat in the areas of the colder suite? Such as the washroom (everyone likes a warm washroom don't they)? Baseboard heaters should be easy to place and wire where they are needed. Ivan

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Part of this might be a good idea. I wouldn't turn off the furnace. Just install the fireplace in the upper unit...and turn down the dampers for the upper.
Have you TRIED just adjusting the dampers to the upper...so that you don't get too much heat when the downstairs gets cold.

These would basically be 'space' heaters. They won't circulate the heat sufficiently to provide comfortable heat to all living areas.

That's the way 'space' heaters worked. The room that has the appliance will be toastie. The other rooms will be chilly.

1. Try adjusting the dampers on all the runs. This may take a long time to get things near right.
2. Pull the forced-air furnace...install a hot-water furnace with runs. You might be able to run the pipes thru the existing furnace duct work.
3. Disconnect the upper unit from the furnace...use the furnace only for the lower unit. Install a furnace in the upper unit...possibly in a closet, etc. You might somehow be able to tap into the existing duct work.
4. Install solar panels in the upper unit...and turn down the dampers to that area.
Good luck.
Have a nice week...
Trent
What do you call a smart blonde? A golden retriever.
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The OP here is experiencing one of the many pitfalls of illegally converting a 1 family home into a 2-family home.
No home with 2 *LEGAL* seperate "units" could ever possibly share 1 single, common forced-air heating system.
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I don't believe that is where I live. In fact, in Vancouver BC the city council is putting in place a system whereby home owners can expedite secondary suite permits and I don't believe the common forced-air heating system is even on the radar. I'm not even sure it's a requirement for our existing system, I believe most of the requirments are centered around safety and zoning. I could be wrong though.

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On 04 Apr 2004 10:39:02 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (HA HA Budys Here) wrote:

Have a nice week...
Trent
What do you call a smart blonde? A golden retriever.
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(HA HA Budys Here)

Bull? Actually, he is right. It violates every res code in the book. Fire code wont allow it for starters..mechanical code wont allow it...and no one considering renting from him should stand for it.

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On Mon, 5 Apr 2004 08:26:38 -0400, "*CBHVAC*"

Grandfather clauses allow it all the time.
There are many older duplexes that have common utilities. Back in the '40's, it was not uncommon to divide a large house to make a duplex.
Have a nice week...
Trent
What do you call a smart blonde? A golden retriever.
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(HA HA Budys Here)

I would like to see one..really. In every state I have worked in, you take a home like that, and rent it out...it has to be brought to todays code...not the 40's.

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Thanks for the tips Trent. I think part of my concern is with proper temperature control, and the other part is efficiency. I'm assuming (possibly incorrectly) that a tremendous amount of heat is wasted as the hot air travels through the duct work.

The only question I have about this is whether I'm wasting heat by closing off the dampers. The two units share the same ducts, the main duct branches at each damper (one branch going up to the upper damper, the other branch going to the lower damper). ie would it take less energy to heat the lower unit if the upper unit closed off all the dampers?
cheers
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Only if the ductwork is wrong, or installed incorrectly.

You close off dampners on a system that is not installed correctly from the start, and if its oil or gas, and you will be looking at a new furnace in no time.
Also, I believe you will find that your idea of a single FAU with two single family dwellings in Canada IS illegal..

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Here is some basic info on our local situation: http://www.cope.bc.ca/index.cfm/fuseaction/page.inside/pageID/6ACC8AEC-8967-4D6B-822ACED228EAA0EC/index.html
Please note that an existing "illegal" suite does not neccessarily mean that the suite does not meet code. The process of getting a permit for a secondary suite is being streamlined this year and I don't think it will have anything to do with sharing central heating.
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