Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

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random_walker_77
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by random_walker_77 »

yes, you can just add a mini-split upstairs, and that'd give you directed cooling.

By the sounds of it, your system is not undersized. If it was undersized, then it'd be running 100% of the time, and your house wouldn't be cooling down enough. Since downstairs is too cold, but upstairs is too hot, you need to get more cold air upstairs, and a mini-split would be a good way to do that. Especially, given the sums you're spending, it'll directly solve it. Not sure that $5K of insulation will fix it and/or ever pay for itself.
tibbitts
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by tibbitts »

Lynette wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:10 pm I will see but in my neighborhood about 50% of the bungalows like mine see to have have window air conditioners,
A good percentage of the two-story houses in my neighborhood have window units in the upstairs. None of them have two central hvac units that I know of. So I don't think that's an unusual thing. Maybe your window unit is noisy for some reason; most window units aren't that noisy, so maybe you just need a quieter model.
random_walker_77
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by random_walker_77 »

tibbitts wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:19 pm
Lynette wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:10 pm I will see but in my neighborhood about 50% of the bungalows like mine see to have have window air conditioners,
A good percentage of the two-story houses in my neighborhood have window units in the upstairs. None of them have two central hvac units that I know of. So I don't think that's an unusual thing. Maybe your window unit is noisy for some reason; most window units aren't that noisy, so maybe you just need a quieter model.
I'm in Texas, and the absence of a/c here can make a home dangerous and uninhabitable. It's pretty standard for 2 story homes here to have separate a/c units for each level, and it provides a level of redundancy if one unit should go out (preferably, the downstairs unit).
dboeger1
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by dboeger1 »

Lynette wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:10 pm
delamer wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 12:41 pm
Lynette wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:26 am
delamer wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 10:12 am What was your upstairs like, cooling-wise, with your previous system?
I have been in this house for nearly 30 years so this is my third HVAC. With the first one, I slept downstairs as the solo owner could not do anything. The second and third were installed by this reputable HVAC Company. With the second one I slept upstairs and did not notice the heat too much. The latest HVAC is really quiet and cools downstairs well. I was told that by he manager who sold me the new HVAC, that I did not need such a powerful one as the newer technology had improved the systems. The only think I can think is that it is not powerful enough to blow the cool air upstairs. I have been noticing that in my neighborhood most of the bungalows have window air conditioners upstairs.
If the old unit supplied the necessary coolness upstairs, then the new unit isn’t up to snuff. All the other suggestions — like adjusting the vents or keeping the fan on —may be helpful at the margins, but they aren’t going to solve the problem.

So the HVAC company sold you a unit that doesn’t fit your needs.

Have you considered having another contractor come in amd evaluate the system you were sold? Or maybe arranging to have a rep from the manufacturer come out for the same purpose?
The HVAC company guy ran various calculations and came up with the recommendation for the size of the HVAC. I asked the technician whether they would look at the duct work or consider alternatives. I think he was highly experienced but a little lazy. He mentioned that it might take several visits to diagnoze and repair the problem. I will wait until the insulation is installed and if it is not suitable, I will call the HVAC company again. I think they care as they have been in the business for a long time and have a good reputation. If this does not help, I will call an independent contractor to do an evaluation. Detroit Energy does a "free" audit.

I will see but in my neighborhood about 50% of the bungalows like mine see to have have window air conditioners,

Thanks,

Lynette
The good thing about insulation, whether it solves your problem or not, is that it should help in the end regardless of whatever solution you do end up finding. In other words, I don't think it's "wasted" money in the long run, even if it isn't enough to properly cool upstairs by itself. Whether it breaks even after considering the cost of energy is another question, although I find those are somewhat difficult to answer with back-of-the-envelope calculations prior to putting the final system through its paces.
illumination
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by illumination »

What just doesn't make sense to me is why you have to have all of these "band-aids" when you had a new unit installed less than a year ago.

For the HVAC company to say you need extensively more insulation AFTER they recommended and installed a new system for you sounds like a ridiculous CYA for a problem they're responsible for.

Something is wrong, either with the size of the system or the duct work. All of which should have been figured out before the new unit went in.

I'd dump this back into the installers lap, if you're having to install say an aux mini split in a bedroom to just cool it down because the new main system is not cutting it, that's absurd.

I live in a climate that gets to 110 degrees outside in a house that has lots of glass and skylights (so poorly insulated) and yet its nice and cool in every room. It's not rocket science.
Zeno
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by Zeno »

Good luck, OP
Last edited by Zeno on Sun Aug 07, 2022 8:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
psteinx
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by psteinx »

illumination wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:34 pm What just doesn't make sense to me is why you have to have all of these "band-aids" when you had a new unit installed less than a year ago.

For the HVAC company to say you need extensively more insulation AFTER they recommended and installed a new system for you sounds like a ridiculous CYA for a problem they're responsible for.

Something is wrong, either with the size of the system or the duct work. All of which should have been figured out before the new unit went in.

I'd dump this back into the installers lap, if you're having to install say an aux mini split in a bedroom to just cool it down because the new main system is not cutting it, that's absurd.

I live in a climate that gets to 110 degrees outside in a house that has lots of glass and skylights (so poorly insulated) and yet its nice and cool in every room. It's not rocket science.
I very much agree with this post.
Shallowpockets
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by Shallowpockets »

Sleep downstairs. That is your solution. You have tried it and you say it is comfortable. You have invested time and money into all the other things replies to here.
Maybe you should just accept the heat as it comes for the short time it is here and sleep downstairs.
Otherwise follow all the other advice given.

I live near Denver. We sleep downstairs. Right now it is 97 degrees outside. 84 degrees inside. It is only 3 o’clock, so it will gradually merge those temps. We have no AC.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by Sandtrap »

psteinx wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:49 pm
illumination wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:34 pm What just doesn't make sense to me is why you have to have all of these "band-aids" when you had a new unit installed less than a year ago.

For the HVAC company to say you need extensively more insulation AFTER they recommended and installed a new system for you sounds like a ridiculous CYA for a problem they're responsible for.

Something is wrong, either with the size of the system or the duct work. All of which should have been figured out before the new unit went in.

I'd dump this back into the installers lap, if you're having to install say an aux mini split in a bedroom to just cool it down because the new main system is not cutting it, that's absurd.

I live in a climate that gets to 110 degrees outside in a house that has lots of glass and skylights (so poorly insulated) and yet its nice and cool in every room. It's not rocket science.
I very much agree with this post.
+1
Not a dime should have been spent if the new system performed poorly.

Then, an “expert” non salesman third party diagnosis and troubleshooting.

Then one solution that solves everything done once and end of the matter.

j🌴
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Topic Author
Lynette
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by Lynette »

Zeno wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:37 pm We historically have lived in really old homes (lath and plaster; radiators & earlier for heat; and no A/C systems). We also don’t like to spend a lot of money, and since you are in a climate that likely only experiences short bursts of heat yearly, you might just try this: https://www.amazon.com/Portable-Conditi ... 6595&psc=1

We currently use that Gree unit to cool the upstairs in our 1880’s Victorian. We are in an 8-month winter climate — that is, it really only gets hot here for a couple of weeks in the summer.

Although that unit is designed for one room, by selectively opening and closing rooms off upstairs we can cool what we need (plus there are only two of us). It also has the benefit of not creating the “look” of a year-round window unit, which can impair historical integrity, while allowing the unit to be stored in a closet when it isn’t needed (which is about 50 weeks a year).

In our experience, one can spend thousands of dollars and more chasing HVAC ghosts and solutions to the same in older homes. So we have cut our losses and gone portable. If we were in our 30’s, with a house full of kids and living in Galveston, we might have made different decisions.
Thanks. I am running my Black and Decker portable unit at the moment. It is in my bedroom and next to it the thermometer reads 78.

https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B01DLPUWL2? ... ct_details

Outside it 84 degrees. At the other end of upstairs past the bathroom and on the stairs it reads 82 degrees. I will see if it cools down the whole area. As another experiment, I might use a fan to blow air up the stairs. The most effective window fan I found was this one:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00 ... UTF8&psc=1

It fits easily into the window and has three modes: in, out and exchange. It is remarkably quiet. The problem is that when the weather is humid it brings that in as well.

I am annoyed that the HVAC company did not provide me with a better solution so I will continue to "follow ghosts" after spending all of this money.
JS-Elcano
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by JS-Elcano »

Unless your previous AC used to work perfectly, issues like these where houses were built with inferior insulation and not equipped for today's hotter summers may be part of the reason why people are tearing down older houses. Do you have insulated windows at least double pane?
Last edited by JS-Elcano on Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Lynette
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by Lynette »

Sandtrap wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:58 pm
psteinx wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:49 pm
illumination wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:34 pm What just doesn't make sense to me is why you have to have all of these "band-aids" when you had a new unit installed less than a year ago.

For the HVAC company to say you need extensively more insulation AFTER they recommended and installed a new system for you sounds like a ridiculous CYA for a problem they're responsible for.

Something is wrong, either with the size of the system or the duct work. All of which should have been figured out before the new unit went in.

I'd dump this back into the installers lap, if you're having to install say an aux mini split in a bedroom to just cool it down because the new main system is not cutting it, that's absurd.

I live in a climate that gets to 110 degrees outside in a house that has lots of glass and skylights (so poorly insulated) and yet its nice and cool in every room. It's not rocket science.
I very much agree with this post.
+1
Not a dime should have been spent if the new system performed poorly.

Then, an “expert” non salesman third party diagnosis and troubleshooting.

Then one solution that solves everything done once and end of the matter.

j🌴
Thanks. I am not going to spend any more money. The extended period of 95 degree weather we had coincided with the extreme heat wave in Europe. I was so desperate after not being able to sleep for several nights that I threw bandaids that cost a lot at it. Now I sleep comfortably downstairs. But I am still sufficiently annoyed to be prepared to try to get the HVAC company to take more responsibility. I won't be too difficult. It is not worth spending too much emotional energy on it.

A side benefit is that I have learnt a great deal about weather, and heating and cooling. I grew up in Johannesburg that is on a plateau 6,000 miles above sea level so there is no humidity. The pools are open for eight months a year and it rarely even reaches 85. Winter is about 3 months with a temperature range of about 32 in the evenings and 60 at midday. There was no heating or cooling in homes when I lived there.

Thanks everyone.

Lynette
delamer
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by delamer »

Sandtrap wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:58 pm
psteinx wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:49 pm
illumination wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:34 pm What just doesn't make sense to me is why you have to have all of these "band-aids" when you had a new unit installed less than a year ago.

For the HVAC company to say you need extensively more insulation AFTER they recommended and installed a new system for you sounds like a ridiculous CYA for a problem they're responsible for.

Something is wrong, either with the size of the system or the duct work. All of which should have been figured out before the new unit went in.

I'd dump this back into the installers lap, if you're having to install say an aux mini split in a bedroom to just cool it down because the new main system is not cutting it, that's absurd.

I live in a climate that gets to 110 degrees outside in a house that has lots of glass and skylights (so poorly insulated) and yet its nice and cool in every room. It's not rocket science.
I very much agree with this post.
+1
Not a dime should have been spent if the new system performed poorly.

Then, an “expert” non salesman third party diagnosis and troubleshooting.

Then one solution that solves everything done once and end of the matter.

j🌴
Especially given that the previous system did an adequate job of cooling the upstairs.

The new system should, at a bare minimum, keep your home at the same comfort level. If that’s not happening then the new system is either misfunctioning or inadequate to the job.
One thing that humbles me deeply is to see that human genius has its limits while human stupidity does not. - Alexandre Dumas, fils
psteinx
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by psteinx »

delamer wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:20 pm Especially given that the previous system did an adequate job of cooling the upstairs.

The new system should, at a bare minimum, keep your home at the same comfort level. If that’s not happening then the new system is either misfunctioning or inadequate to the job.
To be fair, OP can't really be certain that the new system is less serviceable than the old. There's a lot of subjectivity to "too hot" or "too cold", and it's unlikely that OP comprehensively measured the output/specs of the old system.

Among other things, it's possible that OP has experienced a hotter and/or longer heat wave, recently, than had been experienced in the home in several years.
delamer
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by delamer »

psteinx wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:26 pm
delamer wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:20 pm Especially given that the previous system did an adequate job of cooling the upstairs.

The new system should, at a bare minimum, keep your home at the same comfort level. If that’s not happening then the new system is either misfunctioning or inadequate to the job.
To be fair, OP can't really be certain that the new system is less serviceable than the old. There's a lot of subjectivity to "too hot" or "too cold", and it's unlikely that OP comprehensively measured the output/specs of the old system.

Among other things, it's possible that OP has experienced a hotter and/or longer heat wave, recently, than had been experienced in the home in several years.
I’m not convinced. The old system was in place for many years. Subjectively, she was comfortable. It’s not as if she moved into a new house or not never lived through a heat wave in it before.
One thing that humbles me deeply is to see that human genius has its limits while human stupidity does not. - Alexandre Dumas, fils
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Lynette
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by Lynette »

psteinx wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:26 pm
delamer wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:20 pm Especially given that the previous system did an adequate job of cooling the upstairs.

The new system should, at a bare minimum, keep your home at the same comfort level. If that’s not happening then the new system is either misfunctioning or inadequate to the job.
To be fair, OP can't really be certain that the new system is less serviceable than the old. There's a lot of subjectivity to "too hot" or "too cold", and it's unlikely that OP comprehensively measured the output/specs of the old system.

Among other things, it's possible that OP has experienced a hotter and/or longer heat wave, recently, than had been experienced in the home in several years.
I do not think it is entirely subjective. Even before the heat wave I had to buy lighter sleepware and sleep with only a sheet. Even then I would wake up sweating. This was different to previous years. The HVAC was installed in late September last year and the air condioner was never tested until this summer.
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Bammerman
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Do you have a flat roof?

Post by Bammerman »

Many excellent suggestions here, the only one I haven't seen mentioned is the possibility that you have a flat roof -- in part, or entirely. We have one small but much-used room in our old house that has a flat roof, originally a black membrane material that absorbed the baking hot summer sun and transmitted that heat through the very minimal insulation in the roof to the room below. The first thing I did was to paint this section of roof with a gallon of white elastomeric paint from the local big box store ($20 or so). This one thing was AMAZINGLY EFFECTIVE at reflecting MUCH of that sunlight/heat. A few years ago when we re-roofed, I made sure to specify white membrane material over that section of roof. The other thing I did was to install solar-reflective film on the inside of the (south- and west-facing) windows of this room. This was not expensive at all, or difficult, but absolutely helped to cool the room. It does cut down a little bit on the light transmitted through the glass, but not enough to bother us. And of course we close the (white on outside) curtains to keep the full sun out of the room in the afternoons.
Zeno
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by Zeno »

Lynette wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:14 pm Thanks. I am not going to spend any more money …

A side benefit is that I have learnt a great deal about weather, and heating and cooling. I grew up in Johannesburg that is on a plateau 6,000 miles above sea level so there is no humidity …
Good outcome and best of luck.
Last edited by Zeno on Sun Aug 07, 2022 8:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Lynette
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by Lynette »

Zeno wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 5:03 pm
Lynette wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:14 pm Thanks. I am not going to spend any more money …

A side benefit is that I have learnt a great deal about weather, and heating and cooling. I grew up in Johannesburg that is on a plateau 6,000 miles above sea level so there is no humidity …
Good outcome and best of luck.

6,000 miles would be about 32 million feet of elevation.

We are at about 7500’ here. South Africa sounds like Wyoming. Must be gorgeous there, too.

I actually have great sympathy for HVAC contractors, like I do with all the trades. I know this was a replacement job, but HVAC is really tricky and takes a fair amount of engineering. Trying to deal with those issues in an older home just adds complexity.
Lol - 6000 ft. Like the US, South Africa is a large area with lots of different scenery and weather. One can go from the beautiful area around Cape Town with its Mediterrean climate to the desert area of the Kalahari. The weather and vegetation in Durban on the Indian Ocean closer to the Equator is again very different.

You are correct - HVAC technicians have a difficult time. I'll be nice but think they can come up with some solution.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by Sandtrap »

Lynette wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:48 pm
psteinx wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:26 pm
delamer wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:20 pm Especially given that the previous system did an adequate job of cooling the upstairs.

The new system should, at a bare minimum, keep your home at the same comfort level. If that’s not happening then the new system is either misfunctioning or inadequate to the job.
To be fair, OP can't really be certain that the new system is less serviceable than the old. There's a lot of subjectivity to "too hot" or "too cold", and it's unlikely that OP comprehensively measured the output/specs of the old system.

Among other things, it's possible that OP has experienced a hotter and/or longer heat wave, recently, than had been experienced in the home in several years.
I do not think it is entirely subjective. Even before the heat wave I had to buy lighter sleepware and sleep with only a sheet. Even then I would wake up sweating. This was different to previous years. The HVAC was installed in late September last year and the air condioner was never tested until this summer.
thats good to know
at this point consider a mini split system to multiple upstairs areas as needed perhaps for a permanent fix

aloha
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tibbitts
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by tibbitts »

I guess something to try would be to cool the house to where the first floor is uncomfortably cool and the second floor is uncomfortably hot. If you can do that and somewhere in the middle seems like it would feel okay, then it's just a matter of moving air from the first to the second floor. If you can't get the first floor to where it's about as uncomfortably cool as the second floor is uncomfortably hot, then presumably there just isn't enough cooling capacity for the existing infrastructure (insulation, etc.)
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tyrion
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by tyrion »

Now that I'm working from home (upstairs) full time this summer, I've noticed the same problem. The upstairs gets warm! Our climate cools off at night and we run the whole house fan so it hasn't been keeping me from sleeping but it does get uncomfortable in the afternoon. Upstairs is about 5 degrees warmer than downstairs.


Things I have tried:
Running a 'vornado' fan mixing air from downstairs and upstairs. That helps narrow the gap by about 2 degrees, which helps some.

Making the downstairs nice and cold. Works fine, but feels really wasteful to cool the area I'm not.

Running the AC fan full time. Didn't make a huge difference.

Working downstairs. Logistically a bit of a challenge. I can do it in a pinch.

Running a portable AC. My son has it in his upstairs room. Keeps it nice and cool. I'm a bit jealous. I'll steal it back once he starts school in a few weeks.



Things I'm considering:
powered attic fan. I have a sensor up there and in the afternoon it's 10-15 degrees warmer than outside. Not terrible, but not great. We used to have the turbine vents but those had to go when we put in solar.

Minisplit. I know this would fix the problem. Need to decide if it's just for the master or all 3 upstairs bedrooms. Or a ducted minisplit could be an option.



OP, it sounds like you know your options. In increasing cost and likelihood to solve your problem-
Sleep downstairs
Fan blowing cool air from downstairs to upstairs
Portable AC upstairs
Changes to ductwork
Minisplit


If I were you, given how much money you have thrown at the problem, I would go with a minisplit. Then you can cool/heat just your bedroom at night.
tibbitts
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by tibbitts »

tyrion wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 6:04 pm Making the downstairs nice and cold. Works fine, but feels really wasteful to cool the area I'm not.
Have you looked into what would be necessary to move air between the floors, possibly using additional vs. existing ductwork?
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Lynette
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by Lynette »

tibbitts wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 6:31 pm
tyrion wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 6:04 pm Making the downstairs nice and cold. Works fine, but feels really wasteful to cool the area I'm not.
Have you looked into what would be necessary to move air between the floors, possibly using additional vs. existing ductwork?
I just checked at the area upstairs that is really hot at the moment - 82 degrees but only 81 outside. It is at the top of the stairs. On the other side (where I have the portable air condition running), it is 76 degrees. The register vent (supposed to blow out cold air on the hot side) is not working. The HVAC guys don't want to touch the ducts.

Before I start adding roof vents, redoing the duct work, adding more insulation (as the insulation guy wanted), I need to have an evaluation of what needs to be done. As I mentioned houses like mine are being broken down and replaced by McMansions so I have to evaluate how much additional money to spend on an old house. The next step is likely to call the HVAC guy back, have Detroit Edison evaluate the situation and maybe get another estimate.

Its a bit of a hassle moving clothing etc downstairs and back and forth in winter and summer but it works for me and won't cost any more money.

I see someone mentioned a portable air conditioner. I have the 8000 BTU Black and Decker unit running now but it does seem to be effective and it is so noisy I cannot even sleep downstairs. I could likely upgrade it to a 12000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner but they weigh over 70 lbs and I cannot carry it upstairs myself. Amazon does not have an option to pay for this service as they do for some furniture. I would have to ask my neighbors.

The Bionaire Window Fan has been the most effective - quiet and easy to use but it brings in the humidity as well as cool air. I place it in the window when it cools down and then take it out when I wake up. It only costs about $69.

I will update this thread as matters progress.

Thank you.

Lynette
Last edited by Lynette on Fri Aug 05, 2022 7:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
dbr
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by dbr »

I notice hardly anyone has related to the statement that the house is a bungalow. If it really is that style then there is no attic to speak of and a large part of the roof is directly on the upstairs room space. Typical example: https://www.oldhouseonline.com/.image/c ... gle_gn.jpg

Probably for houses of this nature the biggest single improvement is to be under the shade of large trees.

I don't think there are reasonable commercially available roofing products that are sufficiently reflective to really help, though that would be an obvious component of the solution.

Otherwise I think the mentions of setting up the upstairs and downstairs air conditioning as really separate operations makes sense.

Also running exhaust fan(s) at night can draw in enough cool air to make things comfortable most of the time, at least likely in Michigan.

Example not necessarily a product recommendation would be: https://www.amazon.com/Bionaire-BW2300- ... 113&sr=8-5

Note the air comes in the window where you want to be and the fan would be in a window on the other side of the house, so you don't hear anything.
Last edited by dbr on Fri Aug 05, 2022 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Lynette
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by Lynette »

dbr wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 7:20 pm I notice hardly anyone has related to the statement that the house is a bungalow. If it really is that style then there is no attic to speak of and a large part of the roof is directly on the upstairs room space. Typical example: https://www.oldhouseonline.com/.image/c ... gle_gn.jpg

Probably for houses of this nature the biggest single improvement is to be under the shade of large trees.

I don't think there are reasonable commercially available roofing products that are sufficiently reflective to really help, though that would be an obvious component of the solution.

Otherwise I think the mentions of setting up the upstairs and downstairs air conditioning as really separate operations makes sense.
Yes, that is how my house looks. There was a large tree behind my house but its roots were digging up my driveway. I had it replaced twice and my new neighbor agreed to have it cut down. A friend tells me she has a tree in her backyard that shades out the afternoon house. I have had water in my basement from tree roots and implemented an expensive solution (three catch drains in the back yard as well as internal drains). So now I keep trees a large distance from my foundation.
dbr
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by dbr »

Lynette wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 7:28 pm
dbr wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 7:20 pm I notice hardly anyone has related to the statement that the house is a bungalow. If it really is that style then there is no attic to speak of and a large part of the roof is directly on the upstairs room space. Typical example: https://www.oldhouseonline.com/.image/c ... gle_gn.jpg

Probably for houses of this nature the biggest single improvement is to be under the shade of large trees.

I don't think there are reasonable commercially available roofing products that are sufficiently reflective to really help, though that would be an obvious component of the solution.

Otherwise I think the mentions of setting up the upstairs and downstairs air conditioning as really separate operations makes sense.
Yes, that is how my house looks. There was a large tree behind my house but its roots were digging up my driveway. I had it replaced twice and my new neighbor agreed to have it cut down. A friend tells me she has a tree in her backyard that shades out the afternoon house. I have had water in my basement from tree roots and implemented an expensive solution (three catch drains in the back yard as well as internal drains). So now I keep trees a large distance from my foundation.
I added a comment above about exhaust fans.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by tibbitts »

dbr wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 7:20 pm I notice hardly anyone has related to the statement that the house is a bungalow. If it really is that style then there is no attic to speak of and a large part of the roof is directly on the upstairs room space. Typical example: https://www.oldhouseonline.com/.image/c ... gle_gn.jpg

Probably for houses of this nature the biggest single improvement is to be under the shade of large trees.

I don't think there are reasonable commercially available roofing products that are sufficiently reflective to really help, though that would be an obvious component of the solution.

Otherwise I think the mentions of setting up the upstairs and downstairs air conditioning as really separate operations makes sense.
Adding either solar panels or a second roof on top of the existing one might provide similar improvements and be much easier to install than a tree.
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dodecahedron
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by dodecahedron »

like2read wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 11:16 am Other relatively inexpensive thing to do is add ceiling fans in upstairs bedrooms. Big help.

l2r
Yes! Also a whole house attic exhaust fan. My mom had one of those in her red brick two story home in Virginia and it was amazing how much it would cool off the whole house when she turned it on summer evenings after long hot humid days. Those red bricks would really absorb the blazing sun and turn the house into an oven. After sunset the indoor temperature would be much higher than the outdoor temperature.

It was noisy but you don't actually need to leave it running all night. Just expelling the hot air that had built up during the long day was amazingly refreshing.

https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/cool ... -house-fan
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by vineviz »

random_walker_77 wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 3:13 pm yes, you can just add a mini-split upstairs, and that'd give you directed cooling.

By the sounds of it, your system is not undersized. If it was undersized, then it'd be running 100% of the time, and your house wouldn't be cooling down enough. Since downstairs is too cold, but upstairs is too hot, you need to get more cold air upstairs, and a mini-split would be a good way to do that. Especially, given the sums you're spending, it'll directly solve it. Not sure that $5K of insulation will fix it and/or ever pay for itself.
A bonus is that some mini-split systems also include heat, and heating just the bedroom at night might reduce operating costs for the main system.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by prairieman »

We had same problem until we:
(1) Closed some vents downstairs - forcing more cold air upstairs and
(2) Placed a box fan near the top of the stairs, pushing warm air downstairs towards the thermostat.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by Calli114 »

When I was having problems with a front bedroom always running hot, it turned out to have totally inadequate air return and luckily the ductwork was running right nearby, so adding an air return made a big difference. I agree with those who have mentioned ductwork issues.
Prior to that, I had gotten more insulation blown in, which gave me a utility credit but was no help with the temp.
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Metsfan91
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by Metsfan91 »

I have similar issue up stair. I run a fan down stair which blows cool air to up stair. Works great.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by tibbitts »

prairieman wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 8:08 pm We had same problem until we:
(1) Closed some vents downstairs - forcing more cold air upstairs and
(2) Placed a box fan near the top of the stairs, pushing warm air downstairs towards the thermostat.
I'm not sure about the closing vents plan, although at first it seems intuitive. Most hvac seems to be designed to require every vent be fully open to achieve even close to the necessary total airflow. Ordinary houses just aren't designed with extra vent capacity.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950’s house

Post by Dottie57 »

like2read wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 11:16 am Other relatively inexpensive thing to do is add ceiling fans in upstairs bedrooms. Big help.

l2r
Amazing how well ceiling fans make a room feel cooler.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by Jeepergeo »

If the 2021 system wirked at first and the stopped, something is up. Check to make sure a damper did not get closed and check to make sure the ducting has not separated.

If everything checks out, then consider a comprehensive solution if insulation, sealing, and a mini-split AC specifically sized for the rooms up stairs.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by tibbitts »

Jeepergeo wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 11:53 pm If the 2021 system wirked at first and the stopped, something is up. Check to make sure a damper did not get closed and check to make sure the ducting has not separated.

If everything checks out, then consider a comprehensive solution if insulation, sealing, and a mini-split AC specifically sized for the rooms up stairs.
I thought the issue was that weather hasn't allowed the 2021 system to be tested until now?
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Lynette
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by Lynette »

tibbitts wrote: Sat Aug 06, 2022 12:24 am
Jeepergeo wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 11:53 pm If the 2021 system wirked at first and the stopped, something is up. Check to make sure a damper did not get closed and check to make sure the ducting has not separated.

If everything checks out, then consider a comprehensive solution if insulation, sealing, and a mini-split AC specifically sized for the rooms up stairs.
I thought the issue was that weather hasn't allowed the 2021 system to be tested until now?
The unit was never tested as it was installed late in September 2021. There is definitely something wrong with it. Last night I had it set to 72 degrees. It got up to 75 degrees downstairs. Then I set it to 68 at midnight. At 3:30 am it is now 74 downstairs. It is currently 71 degrees outside and but 74 downstairs and ironically only 79 upstairs. It will get up to 90 degrees today. I will see what happens. It is making a massive noise but I can hardly feel it coming out of the registers.

When it was not cooling upstairs or downstairs during the heat wave, I thought it was the thermostat and that I mucked it up by playing with it. The new simpler thermostat performs well when it is cool outside but not when there are successive hot days.

Now I have my 6 thermometers placed around the house and will document the temperature in each one. On Monday, the insulation gets installed in the attic. I will keep a log of the temperature in each one and likely call back the HVAC company to come and fix something.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by BV3273 »

We have 2 mini splits. Mitsubishi Halcyons I think. Our house is a cape built in the mid-50s. They work well.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by Mr. Rumples »

Just a note on old house insulation and "breathing." This came up last evening with a neighbor as we watched the storms come through, he has updated his circa 1950's brick house. The interior walls of the houses around here dating back to the '50's and before are lime (not gypsum) plasterboard. (They are so hard, a masonry bit is needed to drill a hole in them.) Plaster is a masonry product. The idea was that when it rains the exterior brick absorbs moisture. When the sun comes out it dries the brick but moisture goes inside the house through the exterior walls and hits the plaster which then is meant to dry out by using lime based interior house paint. The weep holes, eave vents, gable vents were all designed to let the house breathe and dry out. Rock wool was the insulation used since it can dry out.

My house was flipped and this is exactly what the painting contractor told me about why my ceiling paint is peeling - they used regular interior house paint on the plasterboard ceilings and thus the moisture was trapped causing it to peel. They should have used lime wash interior paint which is carried around here.

While wall insulation is appropriate in a newer home, it might not be in an older home depending on how its built and what type of insulation is used. They dynamics are different. I think its why my POA's house always smells musty. They insulated the walls in their old house.

Regarding foam, the folks who gave me ideas on insulating the attic said not to put foam up between the rafters. It traps moisture causing rot and if there is a leak, one won't know it.

Perhaps in VA, its a bit easier to find companies with experience in old houses; I noticed at Mt. Vernon, they ran the AC ducts through closets, not sure about the insulation, will have to ask about that next time I am there. At Monticello, they use cellulose insulation, a breathable insulation. Here is what they did at Monticello for AC: https://www.achrnews.com/articles/87404 ... the-future
Last edited by Mr. Rumples on Sat Aug 06, 2022 5:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by firebirdparts »

It’s possible that a single upstairs air return would do you a lot of good. Ideally, you could block a downstairs return in summer and block the upstairs in winter. Hard to do, though, unless you just have two closets right on top of each other.

I have a cape cod, story-and-a-half and it was insufferable until we built on. I just put in an entirely separate upstairs heat pump.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by blueberrypi »

I just moved in to a 1930s cape without AC, from a modern apartment with a mini split and ceiling fan in the bedroom. Our bedroom is on the 2nd floor and I knew we'd need a window unit. So far no problem sleeping with a bare bones 5000 btu AC. I'm sensitive to noise and might upgrade to a quieter model at the end of the year if I can find a deal - we have a Soleus model downstairs that is extremely quiet. It fits over the window sill and the window closes almost completely over it.

I also recommend closing curtains during the day and then running a box fan in the window as an exhaust fan before bed.
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Lynette
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by Lynette »

firebirdparts wrote: Sat Aug 06, 2022 5:39 am It’s possible that a single upstairs air return would do you a lot of good. Ideally, you could block a downstairs return in summer and block the upstairs in winter. Hard to do, though, unless you just have two closets right on top of each other.

I have a cape cod, story-and-a-half and it was insufferable until we built on. I just put in an entirely separate upstairs heat pump.
I think I was trying to address the wrong issue. The airconditioner is not working properly downstairs or upstairs. Period. It is not reaching the temperature to which I set it on the thermostat. 5 hours ago I set it to 68 and it is registering 73 now. Upstairs it is 75. Outside it is 70. I am sure that the previous Air Conditioner cooled the downstairs much faster. I cannot feel it blowing out air from the registers either upstairs or downstairs.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by JoeRetire »

Lynette wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 9:49 am I really do not know what I am doing.
Neither does your "reputable" HVAC company.

A good company would study what is going on and propose a real solution. Anything you would find here would just be a guess.

Find a real company, not just a salesperson and installer.
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Lynette
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by Lynette »

JoeRetire wrote: Sat Aug 06, 2022 6:36 am
Lynette wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 9:49 am I really do not know what I am doing.
Neither does your "reputable" HVAC company.

A good company would study what is going on and propose a real solution. Anything you would find here would just be a guess.

Find a real company, not just a salesperson and installer.
Thanks, but my "reputable" company installed the airconditioner less that a year ago and it is still under warranty. They are the sole supplier I know who works with Bryant air conditioners.

1. After the insulation is installed, test the temperature to see if it solved the problem.
2. Call in Detroit Edison for a free audit
3. Call back my HVAC company who told me it would take several calls to diagnose the problem with the AC unit. As the unit is still under warranty, they do this for free.
4. If this doesn't work, I don't really know what to do next.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by JoeRetire »

Lynette wrote: Sat Aug 06, 2022 7:05 am
JoeRetire wrote: Sat Aug 06, 2022 6:36 am
Lynette wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 9:49 am I really do not know what I am doing.
Neither does your "reputable" HVAC company.

A good company would study what is going on and propose a real solution. Anything you would find here would just be a guess.

Find a real company, not just a salesperson and installer.
Thanks, but my "reputable" company installed the airconditioner less that a year ago and it is still under warranty. They are the sole supplier I know who works with Bryant air conditioners.

1. After the insulation is installed, test the temperature to see if it solved the problem.
2. Call in Detroit Edison for a free audit
3. Call back my HVAC company who told me it would take several calls to diagnose the problem with the AC unit. As the unit is still under warranty, they do this for free.
4. If this doesn't work, I don't really know what to do next.
Good luck.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by dknightd »

JoeRetire wrote: Sat Aug 06, 2022 6:36 am
Lynette wrote: Fri Aug 05, 2022 9:49 am I really do not know what I am doing.
Neither does your "reputable" HVAC company.

A good company would study what is going on and propose a real solution. Anything you would find here would just be a guess.

Find a real company, not just a salesperson and installer.
Joe is probably correct. But I'm just guessing.

New/more insulation might help, but the options are limited in a bungalow style house. There is just not much space between roof and ceiling, and you want to maintain roof venting (if your house has that).

This sounded to me like a balancing issue, until you said it is not working upstairs or down. Time to call the installer back.

But let me pursue the balancing issue a bit. This is not uncommon. You likely need more airflow upstairs during the summer, and less in the winter. Some houses have dampers on the main ducts for this purpose. Perhaps if your house has those, one of them got accidentally bumped during the install. Some people have those dampers labeled - one position during heating season, another for cooling season. Most houses have dampers on the supply vents in each room. These are for fine tuning the balance between rooms. As an experiment I would either close all dampers downstairs (perhaps marking their position if they were not all the way open), or just cover them with books to restrict airflow. This should deliver more air upstairs, hopefully enough to keep it cool in the summer.

Some random thoughts:
You have 6 thermometers, 7 if you count the thermostat. Thermometers are not always exact, or well calibrated. They also only measure the temperature where they are located. Try something. Put two (or all 6) thermometers next to each other. Do they have the same reading. My guess is they do not.
Now take those 6 thermometers and place them in different parts of the same room. I think even in the same room you will see different temperatures. This gives you an idea of how much temperature can vary. The thermostat only senses one location, yet it controls your whole system.

If your new HVAC system has multiple fan speeds, and your old one did not, this could be part of the problem. The new system could be running at low fan speed, to save energy. Once the thermostat is satisfied, it will turn off. It could be you need high fan speed to get enough cool air upstairs.

You have 6 thermometers. Try this. Turn off your central AC. Put a thermometer on three supply vents downstairs, and three supply vents upstairs. Record their temperatures. Now turn the AC back on, at a setting well below what you would normally use. Wait 20 minutes. Record what their temperatures are now (do not touch the thermometers, touching them can change the temperature they register). There should be a big difference. The thermometers are now measuring the temperature of the air that comes out of the vents. It could be your upstairs vents are delivering warmer air than your downstairs vents.

I wonder if your house was designed for forced air heat. Maybe somebody changed a radiator system to a forced air system? I doubt it was designed for cooling in the 50's . . .

I suggest you visit https://forum.heatinghelp.com/
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by dknightd »

Lynette wrote: Sat Aug 06, 2022 7:05 am 3. Call back my HVAC company who told me it would take several calls to diagnose the problem with the AC unit. As the unit is still under warranty, they do this for free.
Bingo! Let them diagnose and fix the problem at no charge to you!
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by dbr »

dknightd wrote: Sat Aug 06, 2022 7:44 am

I wonder if your house was designed for forced air heat. Maybe somebody changed a radiator system to a forced air system? I doubt it was designed for cooling in the 50's . . .

I suggest you visit https://forum.heatinghelp.com/
I live in a Bungalow style house built in 1915. It has hot water heat and no duct system. The heat works fabulously well though we have supplemented a couple of end-line spaces such as what was originally a summer sleeping porch* with electric baseboard. It would be a real engineering feat to install whole house cooling in this house. We use one window air conditioner and otherwise exhaust fans strategically located do well enough. We do not expect to live at a 21st century standard of air conditioning.

*Summer sleeping porches are cool at night.

As with most bungalows there is main sleeping space on the first floor.
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Re: Please advise on how to cool upstairs in my 1950s house

Post by fposte »

Lynette wrote: Sat Aug 06, 2022 6:10 am I think I was trying to address the wrong issue. The airconditioner is not working properly downstairs or upstairs. Period. It is not reaching the temperature to which I set it on the thermostat. 5 hours ago I set it to 68 and it is registering 73 now. Upstairs it is 75. Outside it is 70. I am sure that the previous Air Conditioner cooled the downstairs much faster. I cannot feel it blowing out air from the registers either upstairs or downstairs.
Yes, that’s a straight up problem with the system. It doesn’t automatically mean it’s the wrong system, though—I’ve had that as both a deficiency in the coolant and a problem with the wiring to the thermostat, and it was satisfactorily repaired both times.

Hopefully your HVAC folks will get it together to repair yours.

Edit: I wonder if there'd be any benefit in contacting the manufacturer directly if your installers are dragging their feet.
Last edited by fposte on Sat Aug 06, 2022 9:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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