Improving an outdated, unbalanced home heating system
To the HVAC forum folks:
Thanks for reading this -- We're trying to figure out why our house's forced air heating system is so unbalanced, and what are the best dollars to be spent on improving it before our two kids freeze to death in not very "upstate" new york! We are not sure if we are asking the right questions because of the weird responses that we are getting from the contractors we have invited in.
We just moved into our new house [With big heat-losing mid-century modern windows, btw] in May of this year, and are realizing that the one area of the house which is toughest to keep warm are our two kids' rooms which are farthest from the furnace.
We are soliciting quotes from various HVAC specialists, none of whom will get back to us to actually give us a quote, which is extremely puzzling. We've had three in so far.
1) One tried to sell us $500 "duct cleaning" and did not show up to actually look at and diagnose our real problem.
- Two have tried to sell us new furnaces, and don't seem to know how to respond when we say that we're trying to evaluate whether putting in multizone heating could help us to make any furnace more efficient. [$3,500 or so]
3) One suggested that he come back and do more complicated diagnostics to actually check whether the heating system's balance is the problem. ~$250 or a couple of hours of labor, he said.
While we have little experience with the principles behind the design of these systems, I feel like we're vulnerable to being played. How do we get a reality check on what we are hearing?
Also, we've heard that having a humidifier installed will help to make the forced air less drying and also increase the perception of warmth. Any votes yea or nay on the value of this? None of the HVAC guys have bothered discussing this with us.
Full disclosure: we do have a 30-year old furnace...