Need to install ductwork finally, your help is appreciated.

southerncanuckMarch 28, 2013

We downsized years ago and converted 3 season lakeside cottage to a 4 season dwelling. Had the opportunity to install whole house HVAC system then but didn't think it necessary as we didn't see this as a long term living option. Have decided this will be the place for as many years to come as possible.

Currently have:

Wood stove in main living area,
Natural gas fireplace at opposite end of 24'x 20' main living space.
Use 2 portable oil filled heaters (electric) 1 in large bath,1 in bedroom 600w setting 95% of time in winter.,
1 window AC master bedroom
1 portable AC unit main living space that services balance of main floor

Dilemma is that our insurance provider is telling me to get wood stove to code or remove it within 90 days then fire insurance is null and void after that date, my choice. Cost will be approximately $5000.00 and higher to upgrade to code

The current heating is adequate 95% of the time. When hurricane force winds blow off Lake Erie I need to keep that stove going at full capacity which is not great as I am getting closer to collect my Canada Pension. As well electrical auxiliary heaters are cranked to 1500w. Even then might need to wear a Toque.

I will need to get ductwork into walls and herein lies the problem. The municipality is telling me I need a minimum 4" duct work to supply the registers, exterior walls are a full 4" 2x4 which is fine but tight, all interior wall are dimensionally 1.75 " x 3.5". A 4" duct won't fit. Contractor tells me to bring the drywall out to accommodate the ducts across the entire wall(s) or create bumpouts where the lines will go!
When I ask why can't I use flexible ductwork that can be depressed which will maintain the same volume and carry the same cubic feet per minute I can't get any answers other than we don't make the rules. My HVAC guy says why not but can't sign off on that.
I have decided I can live without the wood burning and will not miss the inefficient and very loud AC units, and will finally have a much cooler upper level for guests which can be unbearable.

Heat loss calculations tell me I need about 80K BTU without the NG fireplace on.

Don't have much space for a full size furnace which will go in the upper level horizontal mount.

If I use the NG fireplace (30,000 Btu) Can I get away with a micro furnace as seen in southern applications? Had one in a closet in South Florida.

There aren't many smaller furnaces available up here. I'm only 2 hours from Buffalo but warranty issues are a huge hassle when taking products from US into Canada.

Hope I have given enough info here and after reading back sorry about the lengthy post. Any suggestions folks.

Thank you

Johnny D ( I know, what's a toque?)

This post was edited by SouthernCanuck on Thu, Mar 28, 13 at 17:36

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Toque is a brimless hat.

If you want to use a micro furnace, you'd need to significantly improve the insulation. Think along the lines of a passive house.

Compressing flexible duct will reduce the air flow.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 11:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the quick response davidtay. What I need to research is what I can purchase here in a smaller unit or just go ahead and install the unit that will do the job properly, which I really know is the correct decision. Grasping at straws hoping you were going to tell me there is a new nuclear powered unit that would fit in the palm of my hand.

Thinking clearly today I know drywall is coming off and there are going to be challenges regardless of duct size to install ductwork insitu. I know my design oriented dear wife will be none to happy. Simply pulling Roxul out and putting ductwork into a cold exterior wall is going to give me a huge temp differential on that wall defeating the entire task at hand.

Had 3 young lads out and each were weak in certain answers and solutions. We are rural here and I was lucky to have more than 2 HVAC guys out. Business is booming in construction in the urban areas and there are slim pickins rural.

Didn't have wear a toque today, 54ðF.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 5:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have noticed that the preferred method of heating in Ontario is forced hot air. The HG channel runs programs produced in the Toronto area, all of the houses are hot air. Friends in NB have steam or forced hot water, much like 75% of the houses in the Boston area.
I can tell you it much easier to run and regulate a zoned forced hot water system than duct work, but the cost of the equipment is the killer.
I grew up in a house in with forced hot air extremely dry and dusty. Curious , why is hot air so prevalent in your neck of the woods ? Is it quick recovery time ?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 5:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hello jonnyp,

The quick answer to your question of the prevalence of forced hot air the preferred mode of heating here is the readily and relatively cheap Natural Gas available. Some rural areas have not yet had the infrastructure to supply NG, in those areas liquid propane is primarily used. Oil is almost extinct. It is very rare to see steam used but in the older cities it still can be found, mostly in old institutions and high and low rise residential. I've noticed on my travels east NB, NS, hydronics is seen most often, again I believe it may be the availability of NG or lack thereof.

I had the option of forced hot water here when I remodeled and had the power vent hot water heater installed that was compatible with the
Hydronics system at a premium price. Then I discovered by going to the horses mouth that the local natural gas company would shoot the NG line to the place provide the control valve and meter for zero dollars if 2 NG appliances were installed. Now when I make these statements I am talking southern Ontario only, which is a fairly large piece of real estate. I think about the size of Massachusetts.

As far as comfort, we grew up with forced air NG fired furnaces and it is very clean burning and dust has never been a problem even with first generation forced air NG or Propane. Oil when I was a kid and I know Mom hated it.

What do you do for central air without duct work? I'm more concerned with getting rid of the portable AC units and being cool and dry from May to mid October, last hyear was mid March to November.

I know how hot and muggy it can get in the Boston area without central air, spent many a summer in Revere Beach and Lynn Mass.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 9:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am from Lynn and still spend quite a bit of time there, although I no longer live there. I am in the process of converting from oil to NG. I have no gas in the house, utility is charging $500 to bring the line to the house. I currently have a 4 year old oil fired boiler at 85% efficiency with 4 zones. It is much more efficient than the original circa 1956 unit w/ 1 pump and three loops. Those oil bills are real killer, especially when I see a .20 cent increase per gallon month to month. We run about 1800 to 2200 a year for fuel (includes HW). I am going to a gas fired unit w/ 98% efficiency. Initial out lay is pricey , but it should pay for itself in 3 to 4 years. Typical gas for the year about 800.
I do recall , as small child we had coal with a gravity fed hot air system. That unit was replaced w/ an oil furnace w/ a fan.
I have been told that oil was much more economical than gas.
My first house, circa 1870, had a cadillac 2 pipe steam system that was originally coal and converted to oil in 1955. I know this because of the date on the fuel oil permit. It also was built w/ gas lighting , city water and sewerage.
As far as AC goes I have window units that get used a total of a week. I am 6 miles inland and still get the cooling effects of the ocean. Usually hot spells last no more than 3 to 4 days. My neighbor is getting quotes for central air, 5 grand is the typical price for a ranch, I cannot justify this expenditure for 7 to 10 days a year and my house is not a ranch.
It's funny no matter where I go I run into someone from Lynn or with a connection. My accent is a dead give away that breaks the ice (pahk the cah Mahk). My wife and I were in Venice last year and sure enough somebody we met was quite familiar with the area.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 7:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There are high velocity systems available which utilize 2" flexible duct work. This old house did a segment on it some time back.

Nuclear power? If only Thorium reactors were available - no chance of a meltdown, should be small enough to fit into a closet...

Here is a link that might be useful: High velocity hvac

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 9:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks all, some great info.

Lynn Mass, brings back some great memories like Crab Rolls on the beach for $1.50. I left a few brain cells behind at a place in Lynn called Jacob's Ladder in the 70's. Watch a Reno show Boston Flippers up here, always yelling to dear wife, I've been there honey, I know dear, go back to your program.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 1:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


What a unique solution the Spacepac system might be for me. I see I can get a 60k BTU unit. There is a rep in Toronto and will be definitely talking to them soon. I'm sure it's not the least expensive solution but need to know before dismissing them. Considering a single heat register is going for as high as $160.00 the least expensive being unfinished Maple at $25.00.

Thank you again.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 2:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Check out the high velocity systems carefully and speak to owners before proceeding that way.

I've heard far more negatives than positives about them, I don't know if that's representative or not. Many installations result in an octupus structure of cheap flex ducts that leak like mad and are hard to balance.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 2:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with snidely. Two friends have the high velocity system, nothing but problems. One is sick of dealing with the issues he has resorted to window units. I also ran this by our HVAC design engineer, he gave me the hairy eyeball and shook his head, I heard him loud and clear. I work with tin knockers and I can tell you most jobs we layout the duct work. They have a habit of going from point A to B the easiest way possible, not very pretty . And they love flex duct, not efficient at all.
Have you looked into ductless units, this maybe an option. There are several manufacturers with different sizes. Google it.
The Ladder was in Revere. Flippers has done several episodes in Lynn, I drive by one of the houses every day .
TOH has filmed several episodes in this area, the resident plumber is a clown. A close friend worked with him on the Salem reno, not a nice person and not as swift as he comes across.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 4:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I said I left behind some brain cells, I guess so many I forgot where I left them. As for the high velocity systems not much good feedback unfortunately, and very expensive to boot.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 5:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

They are demanding 4" duct. 4" X what? It doesn't make sense. There are various sizes of metal oval wall stack and a range of fittings that fit sometimes tightly but will fit in the common space a 2"X 4" provides on interior walls. Always avoid exterior walls if you can and fir them out to accommodate insulation behind the duct but only as a last resort. The objective is air delivery, not the "depth" of the duct. If you have 3.5" to work with in depth, typically you have at least 14" to work with in width. And oval stack delivers air with less turbulence than square or rectangular duct anyway. I would check again and get that "rule" clarified. Sounds bizarre to me.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 2:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Snoringcow,

I put a call in to talk to the one and only building inspector 2 weeks ago, and stopped by his office that is 30 miles away last week, no one home other than a receptionist that looked at me like I had 3 heads when I asked why he didn't get back to me.

Her answer " jeez it's Maple syrup season ya know eh. He'll be back when he's boiled all the sap, eh "

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 11:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

why does the ductwork need to be in the walls?

if you put ducts in an exterior wall you lose
the insulation that would be in that joist bay.
and the ambinet temps would affect air
temp of duct. (not as much as 130 degree attic..
but you get my drift)
the lack of insulation in the wall would be
a concern to me.

no attic? no basement/crawlspace?

what about building fur downs in the house
for the ductwork ( this is the best way).
does the layout of the house provide a way
to serve each room? it took a little while to
figure out how to do it in my house...but it is
well worth it. can you post a small drawing of
the layout of your house?

could the hvac co run the ducts & you build the
fur downs?

where will furnace be located inside the house?

in these parts when sheet metal ducts were
put in inteiror walls for heating only, they
were undersized for a/c. so abandoning
them & sealing them off was what was done.

sheet metal is very leaky. every joint, every
seam needs to be mastic sealed. this adds
to the cost...& reduces performance if not done.

never have seen a sucessful high velocity
system. only a few that I've seen though, it just
isn't something we do here.

minisplits are usually used in areas where
ducts are difficult or impossible to install.
would heat pump minisplits work for you?

best of luck

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 12:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I might be too cold in that region for air-to-air heat pumps to be economic compared to gas heat. If they will work at that outdoor temp, mini-splits might solve the problem.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 2:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Energy Rater,

I was hoping you would contribute, I find your posts very informative.

I was told by one HVAC rep that it is important to have registers on the exterior walls, and yes I questioned the contradiction in so far as the insulation would be lost here and the delta T would be significant I believe. That is why he suggested boxing in the ductwork. I'm not familiar with the term "fur downs" is this what that term means?

No attic, there is a loft 2/3 rds of the main living space, then vaulted for the balance. Space here is scarce. That's where I was planning to install the furnace either the smaller unit similar to one that is in a closet in south Florida. or a horizontal unit.

No basement or crawl space. If I had a basement it would be done by now, maximum space under the floor is 24". Not an option.

This new tablet I have is Windows8RT and I'm lucky to have just learned to download an image, no mouse no right click left click, let alone getting a image posted, it is on my things to learn list. A photo yes but nothing I would create in word. I have something up my sleeve thinking about it. will work on it.

I do know that sealing ductwork is import.

If I am able to put a hvac duct system in where I do not have to run ducting in an exterior wall (which I will be checking with the building dept. as soon as he's finished his maple syrup). I will start as soon as I determine the smallest furnace, by physical size not capacity , I can get away with. There are closets where I will box the lines in. I have access to the floor in the loft to run between the existing 2x8's and run returns. Install registers in the soffit above the cabinets and would use existing linen closet in kitchen to run a register to the floor if I can get away with only one more.

And yes ionized, based on both return on investment and the poor performance of heat pumps in our area I don't think it's an option. I can get all the traditional forced air hvac equipment at wholesale.

Believe it or not my kid brother has been in the HVAC business for over 30 years but has always refused to do business with family which he has always stuck to his guns on. That includes consultation. it was a bone of contention years ago but it's probably a good policy. I will buy the best product available to him for his invoice price at least.

an after thought if I can find the highest blower I can get maximum cfm could I get away with all ceiling registers? again we are only talking about 1100 ft2 maximum.

thanks again

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 4:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

two things... we both live in extreme climates.
1)we don't put ducts in exterior walls because of
heat gain, you for cold gain.
2)we install ductwork on interior walls and
blow the air to the exterior walls.

old school (25+ years ago) locating supplies
in ceilings next to windows was standard.
the grills would blow the air to the window.
nowdays we have more knowledge..if we take
advanatge of educating ourselves..and understand
that blowing warm air on a cold window leads to
condensation. with better supply grills we can
put the air exactly where we want it to go.
gotta love 4 way supply grills!

putting ductwork inside conditioned space
in false boxing over cabinets..or building
boxing (fur downs) might work in your
application. it mostly depends upon the layout.
if the closet you plan to use is centrally located,
the the bottom of the closet is return, the middle
is equipment, and the top supply plenum & ducts.
with this configuration you need to determine
if there is a pathway to serve all rooms.

having that simple drawing of the layout would
be helpful. if you can't post it, email it to me
& I'll post it for you.

would a mitisibushi mini split heat pump meet your requirements?

"an after thought if I can find the highest blower I can get maximum cfm could I get away with all ceiling registers?"
how? build fur downs at ceilings for ducts? not quite clear on this after thought!

how's the temps there today??..we are in mid 60's..
a little cool spell after high 70's last week.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 12:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't know what your outdoor air temps are in winter, but check newer heat pump performance if you have not done it lately.

Fur-downs and fur-outs would refer to building out enough space in a ceiling or wall to contain ducts. It is commonly done. Depending on your current lay-out, you might be able to design it so it is visually pleasing. That sometimes means using your imagination to make it look like it belongs there as a design element rather than a clumsy add-on for holding your ducts. A fur-down would include the soffit space you are considering.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 12:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks again have read replies and will get organized and post back as soon as possible to clarify my layman thoughts. Today temperatures ranged from 30F to a high of 45F. We are 2 hours slightly south west of Buffalo NY directly across Lake Erie from Erie PA. and see similar weather here including but not as severe lake effect storms.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 5:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A crude drawing, I believe it's better than nothing.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 4:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I hope this doesn't get lost in cyberspace this time.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 4:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

so you could fur down the hallway & serve all downstairs rooms. This can be done doesnt have to
be ugly. I've seen fur downs used as nice detail, but it
takes carpentry skills & the want to do it.

do you have carpentry skills, or know a good finish

you'd have to create space in closet or some other area
for equipment. loft would be served by ducts in wall.

gotta tell you...this is how I'd do it. it takes some time to
design the layout of fur downs...but it is worth it.

I save 25% of cooling costs (hot humid climate) by
not putting my ductwork/equip in attic.
& would NEVER put it in crawlspace.
too many critters here in the woods.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 4:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We don't know the nature of the finish detail or your preferred decor either so naked ducting of some sort might work better than hiding it!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 5:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I wouldn't want to have to clean it!
I like the look..but it is easier to clean the
fur downs.

I'd rather cut grass than sweep the house!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 5:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just lost a post, my fingers are too big for touch screen, man! Too lengthy anyway.


Are you saying I only need registers in the hall where entrance is? I may be misunderstanding.


Naked duct. I can't wait until I google that.

I can't thank all that have helped enough.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 10:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No, nrg is saying that, since the hallway touches each room, the space in the lowered hall ceiling can carry air to each room. You can put a register in the walls that each room shares with the hallway. The lowered hallway ceiling might hide ducts or might be the plenum. I can not hope to advise on that kind of design details.

Depending on what space you need, I'd be tempted to make the hall ceiling an architectural detail rather than evenly lower the whole ceiling if that is possible. That does make it more like naked duct and more cleaning-intensive, I suppose ;-)

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 2:50PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Seeking input on HVAC replacement
I am getting ready to do a full replacement. Current...
Is this HVAC system OK?
Replacing original old ~9 seer unit. House is 2001...
Opinions please Mitsubishi M - S E R I E S H I G H P E R F O R M A N C
Our HVAC guy is suggesting this for a complete system...
Honeywell th6320R Thermostat
My Honeywell TH6320R thermostat (communicating with...
No Fully Trained Mini Split Installers
Reading threads about mini split heat pumps I got curious...
Sponsored Products
$39.50 | FRONTGATE
Black & White Sisal Rabbit Figurine
$21.99 | zulily
Quoizel Pearson Tiffany Style Table Lamp
Lamps Plus
Belham Living San Miguel Cast Aluminum 48 in. Round Gas Fire Pit Chat Table Mult
Runner Rug: Spezia Rust 2' 6" x 8'
Home Depot
Psychedelic Black Table Lamp
$159.95 | Bellacor
Capital Lighting Transitional Semi Flush Mount
Hand-hooked Tessa Brown/ Multi Rug (3'6 x 5'6)
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™