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Problems with HVAC in 1958 Cape Cod

9 years ago

I've been reading the blogs here and hope that the experts here will give me good, non-biased advice and ideas on what to do about my problematic HVAC system. Sorry this is lengthy, but I'm trying to provide as much info as possible for you.

I recently purchased a home built in 1958 and the heating and A/C problems are proving to be quite a challenge, especially on the top floor where bedrooms are. I am currently in the midst of remodeling the top floor and need to decide what to do about HVAC now. I am located in the lower Hudson Valley, Orange County, and temps drop significantly in the winter months. The first floor is approximately 1,450 square feet, has full 3/4 finished basement, and about 1,100 square feet on 2nd floor (sloped ceilings). Natural gas is not available here and I do not have enough room on my south facing roof for solar panels.

The home currently has a forced air oil fired furnace, Lennox FuelMaster 21, that appears to have been replaced in the early 90's and around that time they added central A/C, and has electric hot water heater. There is alot of flexible ductwork in basement near the furnace and the largest duct work going into the finished area of the basement. There are also electric baseboard heaters in every room of the house with individual thermostats, which I want to eliminate since they are very costly to operate.

2nd floor has duct work but doesn't really throw out any heat or A/C.
1st floor is ok, except for the foyer where there isn't any ducts---it is extremely cold in this area. The only air return vent in the house is in the floor and is located in a closet with a louvre door. I was told that it is also partially covered by the hardwood flooring that was added later.
The basement is the warmest room in the house and frigid in the summer!

I've had 4 HVAC contractors so far and have received 4 different approaches to the problem. But they did all say that the ducts to the 2nd floor were too small. I have 2 more contractors coming this week.

1st Contractor wanted to block duct work to second floor and put a separate Goodman heat pump system with heat strip. Then he was going to improve duct work in basement and add another vent in foyer. Cost: $6,500 for heat pump. $1,000 to improve existing system on 1st Floor and basement.

2nd Contractor wants to replace existing furnace with 4 Ton York furnace, oil or propane, A/C condenser, 2 stage Honeywell thermostats. I want to have 3 zones for each floor if I go with this quote. They also said duct work to 2nd floor is not adequate, and also said they needed to redo most of the duct work. He would not change ductwork in finished part of basement, he would add separate damper instead. Cost: approx $13,000

3rd contractor also said ducts to 2nd floor are not adequate. He wants to block ducts to 2nd floor and add separate Propane system upstairs. New propane furnace for 1st floor and basement. He also wants to redo all the duct work and wants to replace duct work in the finished area of basement, which means we will have to open the drywall up. I haven't received his estimate yet.

4th contractor wants to add ductless system to 2nd floor. There are 3 separate rooms and bathroom. Block duct work and redo ductwork on 1st floor and basement. He also wants to open drywall ceiling in finished part of basement and put in smaller ductwork. No estimate yet from him.

Generally, I am being told that my oil furnace is probably at the end of its life, being at least approx. 25 years old and should consider replacing now. The 2nd contractor that wants to replace existing with 4 ton furnace, states that the current one is not large enough to handle the size of the house. The rest, so far, want to add a separate system for upstairs.

I want to try to make a smart, well informed decision. Thank you for your help!

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