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Old 12-20-2008, 03:56 PM   #21
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With regards to cold air returns in a house, what are the settings for winter and summer?I lost my scribbled notes about how to set the upper and lower grilles, and it's winter and cold, and I think they are set wrong.........
When I read these "winterizing" threads, I'm amazed at the theoretical learning and practical survival skills you people have had to acquire to continue to live (and to operate your cars and your homes) through the winters.

Either that or I've lost an entire species' worth of ability to survive in a climate below tropical skin temperatures. Let me know when it's time to talk sunscreen, surf safety, and heat-stress avoidance!
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Old 12-20-2008, 04:29 PM   #22
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FD - I have the same setup as you. For you folks without........ FD and I have cold air returns constructed so that in each room there is one at floor level and one directly above it at ceiling level. When you open the floor level damper, that closes off the duct to the upper level opening. It's one or the other.

In the winter, open the lower level (thereby closing the upper level). In the summer when the central air conditioning is running, close the lower level (thereby opening the upper level).

Our house was not built with this new fangled technology, but when we had a new HVAC system installed, they added this feature using the space between the wall studs as the ducts between the upper and lower levels. It does a nice job. Rooms have a more even temperature distribution by using the floor mounted return in the winter and the ceiling mounted return in the summer.

I thought this was much more common that it seems to be based on the comments on this thread.
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Old 12-20-2008, 07:41 PM   #23
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When I read these "winterizing" threads, I'm amazed at the theoretical learning and practical survival skills you people have had to acquire to continue to live (and to operate your cars and your homes) through the winters....
Six of one, half a dozen of the other: When *I* read these "termite" threads, I'm amazed at the theoretical learning and practical survival skills you people have had to acquire to continue to live through the tropics....

google "nords termites site:www.early-retirement.org" and get 48 hits!

To each his/her own. I *hate* bugs, I *hate* the idea of poison sprays in our house, I *hate* humidity and heat. I get tired of winter mid-February, but I can get out and enjoy the snow and crisp air.

-ERD50
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Old 12-20-2008, 07:48 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by youbet View Post
FD - I have the same setup as you. For you folks without........ FD and I have cold air returns constructed so that in each room there is one at floor level and one directly above it at ceiling level. When you open the floor level damper, that closes off the duct to the upper level opening. It's one or the other.

In the winter, open the lower level (thereby closing the upper level). In the summer when the central air conditioning is running, close the lower level (thereby opening the upper level).

Our house was not built with this new fangled technology, but when we had a new HVAC system installed, they added this feature using the space between the wall studs as the ducts between the upper and lower levels. It does a nice job. Rooms have a more even temperature distribution by using the floor mounted return in the winter and the ceiling mounted return in the summer.

I thought this was much more common that it seems to be based on the comments on this thread.
Interesting. I did not realize these were 'diverter' type flappers (diverting the air stream one way or the other), rather than just simple open/shut flappers.

Maybe I've just not noticed, but I do think they are pretty rare, at least in the Chicago area. I have seen them, but only a couple times that I can remember.

My (fixed - no flapper at all) returns are all mounted high, which seems odd based on your info. We use heat more than AC (and our house was built w/o AC). So I would think it would be optimized for heat, which would mean the default should be low returns.

Yes, such a simple question

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Old 12-21-2008, 02:53 AM   #25
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Interesting. I did not realize these were 'diverter' type flappers (diverting the air stream one way or the other), rather than just simple open/shut flappers.

Maybe I've just not noticed, but I do think they are pretty rare, at least in the Chicago area. I have seen them, but only a couple times that I can remember.

My (fixed - no flapper at all) returns are all mounted high, which seems odd based on your info. We use heat more than AC (and our house was built w/o AC). So I would think it would be optimized for heat, which would mean the default should be low returns.

Yes, such a simple question

-ERD50
When I read your post, I was sitting at the computer in the family room at my son's house. I looked up and, sure enough, his returns are mounted high as you describe yours. Yet, at my house they were mounted low and the optional high ones were mounted at the time of a HVAC system renovation.

I did a quick google search and found this.... Note the last paragrah which seems to describe what FD and I have.

cold air return - TOH Discussions
Quote:

Quote:
My question is does it matter where the cold air return is located, and will it effect the heating of the house?
Yes it will.
In a heating system the cold air return should be at floor level. That's not to say in the floor but usually they will be mounted on a vertical wall at floor level.

Warm air from the heat vents will rise toward the ceiling leaving cooler air settling down toward the floor.... the law of nature. The term "cold air return" is for that reason to draw the cooler air from the floor level and return it to the furnace to be heated. If the return ducts are at ceiling level this will draw warm air returning to the furnace.

The other reason to have the cold air return vents down toward the floor level is to help with circulating the heated air coming from the warm air heat vents.
Since warm air rises you don't want all the warmth at the ceiling .... most people don't live on the ceilings .... you want it at the level of the room where you are.
This helps preventing stratification where you would have a cold zone at floor level then different layers of warmer air rising with the warmest being at the ceiling.

The cold air return at the lower point of the room will help draw the warm air down providing the heat where it's most desired.

If you will be adding air conditioning one method that's being done is adding two return air vents ... one at the floor level for heating and one at the ceiling for A/C with dampers that allow you to close off one of the ducts and open the other so that the system can work to its maximum in each season.

Hope this helps.

I also looked at some other sites and found differing opinions as to which location of return ducts makes occupants of a room feel "more comfortable" under both heating and cooling conditions. Maybe that is why my HVAC guy set me up with both??
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Old 12-21-2008, 06:51 AM   #26
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Our newer home in the central OH area seems to follow the previous posting to the letter (almost). All of our heat registers are at floor level with the air returns set into the walls, away from the registers, near floor level. The only exception is the basement (partially finished) which seems to have it's own weather system, cool in the summer and warm in the winter - most comfortable area of the home. We use ceiling fans to move the summer air down and around but do not use them in the winter (do not see much need then). Helps a lot to have the "set-back" thermostat to regulate the heating and cooling.
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Old 12-21-2008, 11:12 AM   #27
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In the winter, open the lower level (thereby closing the upper level). In the summer when the central air conditioning is running, close the lower level (thereby opening the upper level).

Our house was not built with this new fangled technology, but when we had a new HVAC system installed, they added this feature using the space between the wall studs as the ducts between the upper and lower levels. It does a nice job. Rooms have a more even temperature distribution by using the floor mounted return in the winter and the ceiling mounted return in the summer.
Our 1970s-era house had these in every room, except that opening one did not close the other and there is actual ducting running between them. I understood that the top was to be open in summer, bottom open in winter as mentioned here.

When we completely renovated the house, all these needed to be replaced. Our builder said they don't install the adjustable returns any more (and might have said something about more efficient HVAC systems today-I don't remember exactly). Anyway, we replaced them all with permanently open grates.

We don't really notice any difference in comfort.
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Old 12-22-2008, 12:32 PM   #28
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As result of all the foregoing hot air, is Finance Dude freezing his a$$ets or sweating it out?
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By now, you probably wish you'd never asked.....
Old 12-22-2008, 01:49 PM   #29
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By now, you probably wish you'd never asked.....

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What I am asking is WHEN do I close off the supply (lower) grilles?
It seems we've established that you have upper and lower RETURN grilles. It's an interesting setup and has some value. Many newer homes have a single huge return (or one per floor) for the whole system.

Now you must report if opening the lower grilles closes off the upper grilles........and

Where are the supply grilles..........the one's that blow air out when the heat is on?

It seems likely that the lower returns should be open in the winter as the air should be cooler near the floor. Even if there is no diverter function, I am guessing that when both upper and lower grilles are open, less of the heated air near the ceiling will be drawn into the return.
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