Furnace cold air return comes from attic

Discussion in 'HVAC' started by joni97, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. Aug 8, 2011 #1

    joni97

    joni97

    joni97

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    I have a 60 year old house, the attic appears to be dry and free of mold.

    Recently while crawling around, I noticed that the cold air return duct had a large hole in it meaning that much of the furnace air is being drawn from the attic. I thought about sealing the hole, then wondered if perhaps it was improving circulation in the attic and if I closed it, I might have circulation problems in the future.

    I'd appreciate any input re possible problems leaving the hole open, I've no idea how long it's been there.

    Thanks
     
  2. Aug 9, 2011 #2

    paul52446m

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    I would not think you would want to pull air from the attic an put it in the house. In the winter you are bringing cold air from attic, cost a lot more to heat. The same in the summer if you cool with this unit. Paul
     
  3. Aug 9, 2011 #3

    nealtw

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    Are you sure this is a cold air return or is it the vent to supply air for the fire?
     
  4. Aug 9, 2011 #4

    joni97

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    Well I hadn't really thought about that, even from a financial point of view, I should seal it off. Thanks for the input
     
  5. Aug 9, 2011 #5

    joni97

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    By 'fire', did you mean the furnace burners, I guess indirectly the duct does provide combustion air to the burners. Its definitely the furnace cold air return duct, the hole is irregular in shape as though it had been broken out by force or even chewed out by an animal. Anyway, it's on the top of the duct and I decided to close it off (possibly temporarily) with a piece of cement board which I happened to have laying around. I'll make my visits to the attic more frequent from now on to see if anything changes. Thanks for your input.
     
  6. Aug 9, 2011 #6

    nealtw

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    I'm having a hard time figuring why the cold air ducts are in the attic, but it should be sealed and insulated. Your cold air for the furnace will be a lot warmer than the attic and you want to keep it that way. In the winter that is!
     
  7. Aug 9, 2011 #7

    joni97

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    Without going into a long story, we have no basement and originally the heating was just pumped into the crawl space under the floor with no ducting. From there it just floated up through grills in the floor. I guess the cold air return was located in the ceiling to encourage circulation on the assumption hot air rises. Some time in the past, ducts were added under the floor, probably when natural gas came to the area.
     
  8. Aug 9, 2011 #8

    nealtw

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    I have seen that type of system before, the people that put in the ducts should also have dealt with cold air, it should be taking cold air from the floor or close to the floor. Perhaps it was designed for airconditioning also.
     
  9. Aug 10, 2011 #9

    paul52446m

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    If the hot air is in the floor, and you put the return air in the floor, you will get cold air drafts across the floor. also when the return air is in the floor, you will have hot stagnant air at the ceiling that never get moved out. Any good engineering firm will say for heating and cooling, take 80% return hi in the side walls or in the ceiling, and 20% from low in side wall or in the floor.
    This way you get the air properly mixed . Paul
     
  10. Aug 10, 2011 #10

    joni97

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    Yeah... that's pretty much what I figured since the hot air rises, you would want to draw it off at the top to keep a continuous supply of air warming the room. We have 2 returns in the ceiling, one high on the wall (cathedral ceiling) and none low down.... but in my 16 years in this house it has all worked fairly well. I appreciate everyone's advice.
     
  11. Aug 10, 2011 #11

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Learn something new eveyday! I wonder way they don't do that here, I will be asking questions of the people work beside on a regular bases. I do understand the cold draft arguement.
     
  12. Aug 10, 2011 #12

    paul52446m

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    There are still a lot of heating guys that use low cold air returns. When someone starts talking to me about cold air returns, i tell them that there is no
    cold air in the house. It is called supply air to the furnace. I have had it proved to me when i was in engineering school 20 years ago. But some outfits
    just don't believe this is the right way. Later Paul
     
  13. Aug 10, 2011 #13

    nealtw

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    If I had a hot air furnace, I would be changing right now, nothing ventured nothing gained. I am just surprized I have never heard it before and I do get into a lot of houses both new and old. I can imagine builders not wanting grills high on the walls and ceiling vents would add to cost and I can here the complaints already.
     
  14. Aug 11, 2011 #14

    paul52446m

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    When a builder calls me i tell him i will only do the job for the customer. this way i can talk to them and give them what they want. A lot of the time i will be installing a total comfort system. This includes Heat, Air con., humidification, and electric air cleaner. If someone has return air low than they can't a air cleaner, it would just sweep the floor. My customers want total comfort so they don't mind having there returns hi in side walls.
    sometimes they have wooden grills made so they look better.
    In the 40 some years that i have been in the heating bus. i have not worked
    for builders, just customers. I don't put any add out but i stay busy from referrals from my good rep. Paul
     

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