I'm a new homeowner and have questions about my heating/cooling system. If replying, please use small words... pretend I don't know anything about HVAC (other than the acronym). Thanks in advance.
I have 2 heating/cooling systems in my house. The set downstairs is run by a unit outside and a unit in the crawlspace under the house. The set upstairs is also run by a unit outside with a heat pump and a unit in the attic. There is only 1 return vent for the upstairs (in the ceiling) and 4 for the downstairs (located at the top of the walls throughout the first floor). I assume that the outside units are for the A/C and the inside units are for the heat. Here are my questions:
1. Can I block off one or two of the return vents downstairs? If I do, what is the harm?
2. If I shouldn't block them off, can I relocate them to lower in the wall, or should they stay at the ceiling level?
3. How do I know if the heaters are electric or gas?
4. What does the heat pump do for the upstairs and what is the best way to use it without wasting money?
5. How often should I change the filters for the units? What about the return vent upstairs (the downstairs return vents do not have filters. Should they?)?
1. You can not block returns. Doing so would restrict air flow. Results would be uncomfortable heating and cooling conditions in rooms, damage to the system, more energy usuage (increase electric bill).
2. They can be relocated lower on the wall, however, that would require extending the ductwork inside the wall also. This would also change the airflow pattern in the room.
3. If the unit in the crawl space or the attic have a gas pipe running to them they are gas fired units. Heat pumps normally have electric back up heat strips rather than gas.
4. I'll try not to get above your head here: Heat rises and cool drops. Heat from downstairs will rise to the upstairs through the stairwell or the cieling and cool air will decend from the upstairs area to the downstairs area. Set the thermostats upstairs and downstairs to a temperature than is comfortable to you,( this will require more than one adjustment). If you have ceiling fans use them, if not I would suggest you invest in them as they help. I have ceiling fans in every room in my house and am running my heat pump with the thermostat set at 80 degrees.
This point may be over your head but try to understand with a heat - cool system all you are doing is trying to control the humidity level in the area. The higher the humidity is the warmer the air and the lower the humidity the cooler the air.
5. Change filters monthly. The downstairs unit filter is in the airhandler in the crawl space.
I hope this helps, let me know if you need more information or need a better explaination. You can find me on the internet and on facebook also.
Stan Chaney HVAC/R
As for the returns... There aren't any ducts. The space between the walls/studs is being used as the duct. Is this normal/ok?
Seems like a big pain to have to go to the crawlspace every month to change the filter, but oh well.
I was told that ceiling fans cool people not rooms. I know they can help recirculate air from up to down and vice-versa, but is it worth the cost to run fans and the A/C?
The wall cavity can be used for return air without ducts. Cieling fans only circulate air that is in the area. They will not provide any cooling. They do not require much energy to operate. I can operate my heat pump at a higher temperature setting with the fans operating and be comfortable. I suggest you try one fan in your living area to start with if possible and see if it makes a difference.