Airflow problem in the basement

stant98December 4, 2012

My family and I moved into our new home 3 months ago. Turned on the heat and the end of October and my wife who stays home with our toddler age kids noticed the stuffy air in the basement. I reached up with my hand against registers and the airflow is really low - probably less than half of what it feels like on the main level.

We had a heating tune-up, seasonal checkup done yesterday and were told the furnace runs well - no issues. The filters are clean.

We also had a contractor today who inspected the ducts - the main duct and the return down in the utility room. He said that he could not see any dampers on the main supply duct (that goes up from the furnace leading up to the main level and branches off horizontally to the basement). He also said that he thought there may be registers that have been sealed off inside the drywalls; or some other problem that's restricting airflow velocity.

This is a Winchester Homes colonial type SFH built in 1999. The basement was finished by the previous owner after they initially bought the house.

Is there a cost-effective way to repair this problem without opening up drywalls to locate a potential area of air leakage or airflow being restricted? Do you know of any specific tests or equipment that can be used/installed to troubleshoot this problem?

Thank you very much!

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I assume the finished area has concealed the duct work which supplies the register in the basement. Can you trace back to the furnace the duct which supplies this register? Can you figure out if this branch feeds registers on the first or second floor?

If you can figure out how the duct system is connected, I suggest you trying closing a register in the house which is on the same feed as the one in the basement. Once you close it see if changes the air flow to the basement register. If it does not, then I suspect the duct work in the finished area either has a bad leak or has become disconnected.

You could also have a return problem in the basement. Open the basement door and see if that has any affect on the air floor. If it does, then you need to add a return in the finished area.

My guess is the duct work was disconnected or it is a flexible duct which goes around a bend and has a tight kink in it. If that is the case then the only real solution is to open the drywall.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 8:13AM
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Is it possible the airflow is low by design? You said it feels stuffy but is the temperature okay?

Stuffy could be a lot of things. Basements often have very low heating and cooling needs. I have a trickle coming out of my basement registers. The temp is fine.

If the temp is fine, you might not want to blame the HVAC ductwork.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 8:24AM
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