DIY Home Improvement, Remodeling & Repair Forum > Appliances > HVAC > Cold Air Return open under my siding, no duct, normal?




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Old 10-29-2012, 11:02 AM  
nealtw
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If the duck are to noisy just tape their bills closed. (duck tape)



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Old 10-30-2012, 10:31 PM  
Scarfone
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Well, I guess from what I hearing the lack of foam board or insulation between the siding and house is a problem just as I suspected. However, I don't know if its just no insulation down the return air portion or the entire side of the home. The house is 2 story with brick on the bottom floor and alum. siding on the top floors. The bottom of the siding on the outside is not sealed down to the brink portion so I probably could be able to lift the siding in various places to see in there is foam board other places other then where the return air run. Perhaps the just didn't insulate the air return portion between the studs by the rest is of the side of the home is? This area of the home is neither the front or back of the home. it is on the side of the home below a window.

The siding is alum. and nailed down. Would this be something I could do? Perhaps pull the siding off the entire side of that house and install foam board and then replace the same siding? I know this would not be a 1-2 hour job but I don't know if I can afford someone doing it. Does the foam board need to be nailed down? Or could I cut pieces I need and slip them upward by lifting the edge of bottom of the siding? I have also noticed the spare bedroom right next to mine is also a very cold room. Now I shut the heat to this room and haven't looked down the air return in this room to see if it has the same problem. BTW, I am using the metalic tape and not regular duct tape. What that runs out, was going to switch to mastic.



Λ
/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \
/siding \
/ [] \
-------------
| |
| |
| brick |
| |
-------------------------------------------------------------------
[] = cold air return : No to scale/angles



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Old 10-30-2012, 10:32 PM  
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Sorry,

Some reason my attempt at making a quick diagram did turn out but I think you get the picture.

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Old 10-30-2012, 11:12 PM  
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Aluminium has to be removed from the top down. So you have the whole side of the house stripped, but it can be done. I wouldn't try to pry it open at the bottom, you will spoil it. Have you tryed plugging the return and leaving the bedroom door open to see if heat in that room gets better or not?

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Old 10-31-2012, 02:32 PM  
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No, haven't tried plugging it yet. I was told I need a return in any room or it would make the problem worse, meaning less heat. I'm not sure why that would be the case. I know heat rises and it is in theory suppose to pull it down slightly to evenly heat the room. But I don't see how plugging it could make the problem in this case any worse.

As far as pulling the siding. I have never done any type of work like that. Would I be able to pull all the nails and remove it carefully enough to be reinstalled? I'm giving me self a 70% chance of being able to pull the siding and reinstall it.

I guess I would have to first determine if it's the entire side of the house without any foam board or just the return air runs. If it's just the runs, maybe I could slide a cut piece under the siding or possibly open the air return in the basement and slide one narrow long piece all the way up. But something tells me that foam board should and needs to be tacked down.

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Old 10-31-2012, 02:39 PM  
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In order to get air into a room, you also have to have a way to get the air out. For a test leave the door open so air can get out.

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Old 11-01-2012, 08:15 AM  
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Now that the duck has stopped quacking, we can hear ourselves think about the problem, or problems, as usual a simple one task project has multiplied into a few projectiles. Seems you have two problems, loose ducts, possible lack of insulation.
Use screws to fasten ducts where you can reach it, if choice is only one of either tape or mastic, tape is easier to use, easier to bridge over unavoidable gap than try to fill with goop. Any foam-board you slide into space needs to be secured some way so it doesn't just slide back out, a screw, nail, tack, staple, even tape.Tape or caulk gaps where it butts against studs.

I dunno if anyone answered your original question, the duct being in an uninsulated area is not making the room cold, cold air returning to furnace would make furnace work harder and would affect entire house. You pro'lly wouldn't even notice a temp difference, might notice furnace working. Loose return ducts would do the same, maybe more so as they might pull in really cold air.

Are return ducts needed? Depends on house configuration. My house has no return ducts at all. One story, air handler in central hall way. Air returns thru open doors and under doors, thru grill in closet door. One room does have a problem with being too hot or too cold due to not enough return, but it is opposite of what you fear. Too cold from AC, too warm from heater. This is mostly due to outlet damper in there not staying adjusted, too much air coming in.

A room not being warm or cool enough is usually due to lack of circulation in the room. Cool or warm air sits in pockets, warm at ceiling as you said. A return can help there, but so can a ceiling fan, reversed slow speed in winter pushes warm air across ceiling down the walls. A fan at table level, near a wall,pointed up can have same effect to lesser degree. Ultimate ducting would be two systems one opening at ceiling level, other at floor, with openings across room from each other,with reversable fan. In winter warm air enters at floor, leaves at ceiling, summer cool air enters at ceiling. So you can block off return duct, leave door ajar and see what happens.

Cold room and cold duct are caused by apparent lack of insulation in walls.
You can remove bottom strip of siding for inspection. You'll need special but readily available tool to uncrimp aluminum siding. It is not difficult but siding is flimsy, easily bent when unattached. Work slow and careful, with a helper to support long flimsy piece. You may have to remove more than one row to really see inside. You would also need the tool if you start at top. If you decide to remove siding, I can post links to procedure and a few tricks and problems I've run into.

If there is a closet against exterior wall, and it is drywall, it is easy to cut an inspection hole there. patching hole does not have to be as perfect as if in room.

From inside out you should find a vapor barrier, insulation, sheathing, siding. Batt insulation may have integral vapor barrier, may be another barrier under siding over sheathing. Walls may have been originally filled with a loose fill insulation, which settles over years, especially if there is inadequate blocking. It is not unusual to find 8' wall with upper 5' uninsulated. Very possible they filled from top and ddin't fill under window.

Your drawing looked fine in E-mail notification. A few options for replacing, renewing or installing insulation. From inside or outside, some more involved than others, some more effective than others, depends on what you find, especially concerning sheathing and vapor barriers.

I think I'm thru for now, release the duck. The quaking shouldn't make it any harder to understand my confusing rambling than if you'd smeared his bill with Malone's Marvelous Mallard and Muscovy Miracle Mystery Mastic.

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Old 11-18-2012, 12:48 PM  
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Well, from getting myself in deep and looking down the air return the best I could I have found the following.

The air return does not use the entire space between the studs and does not go down the wall to the basement. In fact, I followed a cable line that was ran through and it appears the cold air run goes down then curves into a very narrow area, almost under the edge of the flooring in the room. This area I am seeing, that is open and I can see the siding, could be easily sealed off using well cut pieces of wood and some caulk. Obviously this does not address the lack of foam board or anything under the siding in that area, but at at least it will seal the air run off from the this area, which BTW, is very cold air when I place my hand in their. No doubt it's pulling very cold, outside air from the small gaps and what I believe to be drain holes for water on the bottom edge of each piece of siding.

Someone cut a serious corner here when they put the siding up but I am in in position right now to pull the siding down and deal with this the correct, thou more extensive and expensive way. I will in a sense build a rectangle box with the 2 long sidings missing and place this in the cavity and then seal it off from the outside elements. I am hoping this will increase the pull this air return has on the bedroom since right now it's pulling from everywhere under the siding and pretty much outside air. I will have to deal with the real problem in the spring.

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Old 11-18-2012, 09:13 PM  
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Maybe you could cut a return air vent right into the floor and just close the wall up with insulation or foam or? until you get to fix the outside wall properly. The return air should not be anywhere near the outside like that.

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Old 11-19-2012, 08:10 AM  
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Sounds like a plan to me. Anything to stop that direct entry of outside air. Those are drain or weep holes in the siding. Instead of blocking off the "channel" with wood, consider usinf foam insulation panels. You mite could cut a longer piece as wide as the space and slide it up in there against the siding. then cut a few pieces to stack on each other to block the end. Hold and seal the end in place with adhesive caulk.

Back when fuel was cheap, folks didn't worry so much about insulation. I grew up in Texas Panhandle when and where natural gas was almost cheaper than water, There still should have been some kind of sheathing behind that siding. Often the only thing between siding and studs was a layer of tar paper.. In winter furnaces ran full bore 24/7.



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