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air returns

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  • air returns

    We have an old house, built in 1911. The furnace is a newer model Trane, forced air, NG. I have a large return grate in the floor located in our front entry. It is probably twice the size as the return duct. I am planning on replacing that hallway flooring and would like to get rid of vent altogether. There are 3 other returns in other parts of the house.

    A) Could I simply cover it up with flooring ?

    B) Could I just open up the duct in the basement and put a vent cover there.

    A couple things to note, this is in the front part of the house which has the most air leakage. Given the age of the house and all the orginal double hung windows. I doubt we have any shortage of fresh air coming in. I suspect there is already some draft coming in through the basement.

  • #2
    Re: air returns

    this floor vent is not hooked up to duct is it

    My seek the peek fundraiser page

    new work pictures 12/09


    • #3
      Re: air returns

      I'm sure you are effected by the soaring cost of oil or gas, we all are. It is vital that the ductwork be properly sized and balanced in order for the furnace to operate as efficiently as possible. Under sized ductwork (suppy, return or both) will cause the furnace to short cycle, which greatly reduces effiencey and also puts added stress on the heat exchanger, reducing it's life.
      it sounds like someone replaced the old furnace and just adapted the new unit to the existing ductwork, which may or may not be ok. You most certainly should not under any circumstances, remove or re-size the cold air returns without first doing an examination of the duct system. You need a professional to come out and take some measurments and inspect the furnace.
      Also, if your ducts are un-insulated and the joints are not sealed, they should be. That will increase efficiency and save you quite a few dollars also.


      • #4
        Re: air returns

        The vent grate is probably 3ft by 1ft. The actual tin duct is 4 1/2 inches by 12 inches.

        The furnace and hotwater heater is 15+ ft away.

        My guess in 1911, the heat was either coal or wood. From the looks of the tin, I would guess that in the 50s or 60s when the owners switched to oil heat, they retrofitted the ducts with tin. There is 4 return ducts on the 1st floor including the one mentioned. There are remnets of the plywood patches that replaced the very large old style vents from the original heat source.

        The ducts are not insulated, most of them are covered by sheetrock. The one I would like to open up is exposed in the basement.



        • #5
          Re: air returns

          Note where this return is in relation to outside walls and then go down to the basement. Is there a duct connected to this grate? If you leave on lights in the basement can you see them if you look downward through the grate from in the hall? I have a feeling this was a gravity flow grate used many years ago when you had either a coal or wood fired hot air furnace or heater down in the basement. If you don't find it currently connected to a duct then you can remove it and repair the hole in your floor.

          With the blower running on your new furnace, place a sheet of paper (like copier paper) over the grate. Does it suck it down hard onto the grate? Does it blow it off and into the hall? The idea is to test for forced air flow through this grate.