I live in a 40 year old bungalow in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, up
north where the winters are very cold. I've got three forced air
furnaces in my house, one that heats the basement, one the main floor,
and one the addition. All of the furnaces seem to work just fine.
I've been in the attic, which is insulated uniformly with wood chips.
I will blow in some more insulation once I've finished some potlights
and wiring, but the insulation is likley adequate up there (the snow
on the roof doesn't melt any faster than the neighbours, and actually
a bit slower than most, which is generally a good sign).
The heat in the addition and the basement are just fine. However,
parts of the main floor are always cold, especially the living room,
which has some pretty big windows and, though it has three heating
vents, is the farthest room from the furnace. I figure it will always
be a battle to heat it.
Anyway, I am doing some work in the basement, and the ceiling is
mostly open during the reno. The previous owners insulated every
interior wall cavity in the basement, as well as the entire ceiling,
with fibreglass batts. They were musicians / music teachers, and I
assume they insulated everywhere more for sound than anything else. I
haven't removed the insulation, but it occurs to me that perhaps with
a warm basement, removing all of this insulation would make for a
warmer main floor?
Just wondering if anybody out there has any experience on this, or an
informed opinion? thanks in advance for your help.
How is air flow through those vents in living room? Ducts may need
cleaning. Since basement ceiling is open, can you see any problems/
leaks in ducting? Blower may need checking. I'd also see what you can
do to improve insulation/airtightness on those windows. Just covering
them for winter with those window film kits to create extra air layer
Basement is definitely warmer than the main floor.
As for the ducts, I had them cleaned very recently, which didn't
help. No obvious leaks, but there is pretty weak airflow through
them. I actually partially close vents in other rooms to try and
boost the air flow in the living room, but it doesn't seem to do much.
That sounds like maybe there is some sort of flow problem How are the
filters, clean free flowing? Does the fan offer more than one speed?
It may require an on site inspection by a pro to find the real issues.
It can pay for itself.
If the basement is warmer, and you have a separate furnace down there, just
turn the thermostat down. Insulation is doing nothing, really, it is a
matter of balance. You won't get any "free" heat upstairs from it.
The basement never seems to get cold, we don't have the thermostat
very high down there.
But the insulation must make a difference - I figured that heat rises,
and can't rise as efficiently if the ceiling is insulated. Just
wondered if anybody had experienced this, or if there was a heating
contractor who'd encountered this problem.
It is not "free" heat because without the insulation some of the heat (a
small amount) will move upstairs and then the basement will get cooler
calling for more heat. I suggest that unless you need the heat down there,
turn it down as far as it can go or turn it off.
You may want to check the balancing of your duct work. There is a
search you can do on canada's NRC site, called the "garbage bag
test". Essentially you take the bag, place it over a register and
time the amount of time it takes to fill it up. From there, you can
start closing a vent off that is quick to fill, and open a vent that
is slow to fill.
Another option you can look at are little fan units that are inserted
into your registers in a cooler room that is not receiving that much
And yet another option you may have is to install electric baseboard
heaters in the one room to enhance the heat when required.
This assumes you've exhausted all the obvious things to ensure it's
not a leak, bad equipment, etc....
You had a lot of thoughtful answers through out the thread, but the best
one is the one aout the living room windows.
You have themal loss there. The windows are the one "odd" feature in
the cold room. Thats a big hint
Your best bang for the buck is to increase the window effeciency.
Clear plastic cover outside over entire widows beginning in late
October, say at Thanksgiving , through April?
Clear plastic inside over entire windows beginning late October, again
say at Thanksgiving, through April?
Replace windows in 40 year old house with modern triple pane glass windows.
You need to cut the thermal loss throgh the widows before you think
about boosting the haet flow into the room. Regardlesss of how much you
boost that heat low, you are going to be putting that heat outside
until you correct the windows.
Energy audit always shows window is the worst heat loser. Now our local
builders are using triple glazed Argon gas filled Low E windows more and
more. Cost little more but worth it for the long run,
Let me ask first what is your typical winter gas bill? You did not say
how big your house is. My fully developed 2 story house in Calgary built
in the mid-90's to my spec, runs on one furnace and winter gas bill is
~100.00. Very warm in winter and cool in summer inside this house.
Your house was built B4 the time of updated building code re:
insulation. Spend some money and do an energy audit, then you'll know
what you need to do most economically.
Some good help here, thanks.
In terms of the windows, it's a bay window in that room, and was added
about 25 years ago (according to the date stamp within the sealed
unit). It's a relatively big window, but it's only on the one wall;
the family room, by comparison, is warmer despite bigger windows on
both walls. I will try the plastic, mind you, and see if that helps.
I hadn't heard of the "plastic bag" test, and will try that. I
suspect that I'm simply not getting enough airflow into those ducts,
and if I can correct that problem, that will be a significant
The house is a 2200 s.f. bungalow, so I'm heating 2200 square feet
upstairs, (including the 200 s.f. addition), and 2000 feet in the
basement. My gas bill in the winter is roughly $175 per month. The
addition is very poorly insulated (it's one of those sunroom things,
and the ceiling is half windows), and even though it's got a beautiful
cedar interior with awesome curved laminated cedar beams, I'll likely
remove the room next year and convert the space to a deck. I've been
hoping to come up with a lake lot or rental property that could
benefit from the extra room and relocate it, likely as a non-heated
sunroom, but haven't found a place for this addition yet.
I'm undertaking renovations, and windows are on the agenda in the next
couple of years, but I truly think that my problem is more heat
related than heat-loss related. The windows don't frost at all,
they're not particularly cold to the touch, and I don't get a draft at
all. I know that's not a perfect test, but it's what I have done so
I think I'll try removing some of the insulation under that portion of
the house and see if that helps. Also use the tests recommended to
check for actual air flow through those ducts.
Anybody know how effective those "in-duct" fans are? And are they
relatively simple to wire to the furnace? Do they cause any other
My house is 2400 sq. ft. two story plus basement. And 200 sq. ft. all
season sun room made out of open deck which is part of family room now.
This room has R40 floor and ceiling. Walls are R20 plus all half height
windows and sky light. Things grow year round in this room. You may try
a booster fan which fits into a duct to increase air flow to the liing
room. Luckily my bro-in-law is HVAC specialized PE. He is a big help. I
am old school EE back (class of '66 retired)
The sun room might collect more solar heat for the house if it had
less thermal mass and an insulated wall between it and the house, so
the sun room could be cold at night, losing less stored heat through
the low thermal resistance of its windows. A fan might circulate air
between the sun room and the house when the sunroom is warmer than 70 F
and the house is cooler than 70 F, or when the sunroom is less than 40 F,
to avoid freezing plants.
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