Thursday, July 7, 2011

Simple solution for better air flow in the summer

My gift to you readers today is the shortest story I could write.  You may have noticed I can be quite wordy.  So here’s the deal in a nutshell:

It’s hot as an oven upstairs in The Teen’s room during the summer, but it’s cold in the kitchen on the main floor.  We needed to redirect air flow from one place to another.  The simple solution involved Webster and Roget, AKA a dictionary and a thesaurus.

Our two kitchen air vents are in the baseboards of our kitchen cabinets.

Vents in kitchen 001

Behind the vent cover is open space under the base of the cabinets, with circles cut into the flooring for the air ducts.

Vents in kitchen 003 
 Even if we had an open/close feature on our vent covers, there would still be air flowing into the dead space at the base of the cabinets.  In come Webster and Roget.  Pay no attention to the dirt and splatters on the cabinets and baseboards.  That is the negative thing about white cabinets is that they show everything.  And when you live with something every day, you don’t realize how dirty it is are until you are (1) having company, or (2) taking photos up close.
 Vents in kitchen 011 



 

Vents in kitchen 014
  
Can you see Roget peeking out from behind the vent cover?  The Mr. and I will be the only ones who know he’s there, but Webster is a little more conspicuous because of his location and his bright red cover.
 Vents in kitchen 006

Usually those kind of things bother me, so I hope I can ignore.  (Ignoring the photos of dirty cabinets and crumb-y floors isn’t working well so far.  Those who know me in person would probably be shocked I would reveal something like that to the public!) 

So that’s my cheap, simple, quick solution to our air flow problem.  It already feels cooler upstairs just after a few minutes.  And there’s the end of the story for my readers with short attention spans.  For those of you who are interested in why we have air flow problems, read on.

Our house is 2300+ with two floors and an unfinished basement, with the master bedroom on the first floor and three bedrooms upstairs.  During the summer when it’s comfortable or cool on the main floor (where the adults hang out and sleep), it’s quite toasty upstairs (where the teen hangs out and sleeps).  Our old house was similar in size and had all the bedrooms on the second floor.  It was naturally a little bit warmer upstairs in the summer, but with the ceiling fans going in our bedrooms, it was comfortable.  During construction of our current house, our builder gave us the option of installing two air conditioner units or just one, and we went with his recommendation of using just one.  After all, it would be cheaper for sure and we were tight on budget, and we didn’t have issues at our old house. 

As the ductwork was being installed, both our builder and the HVAC contractors were already regretting the decision.  According to code, the ducts had to go in certain places and not in others, and it took some extra effort and the moving of some other things within the walls to figure out how to get the ducts into the upstairs rooms.  Apparently it was the most difficult ductwork job the HVAC guys have ever done.  I’m pretty sure they were cursing me when I was not around.  If only they had spoken up before the decision was made, we could have installed the second AC unit in the attic, which would have been a much more direct route to the second floor rooms.  A second unit would also have allowed for a separate thermostat upstairs.

We close every single operable vent cover on the first floor at the beginning of the warm season, to help direct all the cold air upstairs, since it’s still comfortable on the main floor.  But since our kitchen vent covers were stationary, they stayed open, with the cold air chilling our ankles any time we were in the room.

We built on a wooded lot and kept every tree we could, so our house is very shaded.  The only real exception is that the sun peeks out over the trees during mid-afternoon in the summer and hits the back of the house.  In our bedroom on the main floor, not much direct sun reaches us because we’re low and the trees are in the way.  But in The Teen’s room at the back of the house on the second floor, he gets direct sun at the hottest time of the day.  The other reasons his room, in particular, are so warm are that he’s at the end of the air duct lines, so the air flow is lowest when it reaches him.  And he has a TV, satellite receiver, laptop, and Xbox running in a fairly closed-in space.  He does have a ceiling fan but it doesn’t seem to help much. 

 Sun coming through the window in Z's room 002

Hey, don’t feel too sorry for him.  If it annoyed him too much, he might actually leave his oven-y lair and come downstairs to the land of the living.  Usually The Mr. and I are the ones most bothered by it, when we venture up into teen territory and notice the temp difference along the way.

Hopefully Roget and Webster will help in the long term.  I’ll just have to remember to fish them out when fall comes, before we switch over to heat.  Webster is going to be a challenge – he’s really wedged in there, between the baseboard and a support brace under the cabinet.  Luckily I won’t have to worry about him for a few months.

So … we have now reached the end of the story for those of you who stuck with it.  And be sure to let me know if you did.

Does anybody else out there have vents built in to the base of your cabinets?  Are we the only people with a dictionary and a thesaurus in a yard sale pile that would decide to put them to use to help control air flow?

Hollie

13 comments:

  1. You're right Hollie, I was shocked you would reveal something like that to the public, i.e. crumbs and such! This whole plan sounds like something I would do, not you !

    ReplyDelete
  2. hey! whatever works! I have to redirect some of my vents, think I closed off one when I did my fireplace makeover.
    I have to admit, I didn't read word for word your entire post, but I plead tiredness! It's been a long week.
    :)
    have a great weekend!
    gail
    ps ewwwww about the snake! yikes!

    ReplyDelete
  3. that is a great idea about using the books. we have a very similar situation even with two a/c units. If I decide to copy your idea, I am going to tie some twine through the book binding to help pull the books out in the fall. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. FYI, they sell magnetic sheets that can be cut to the right size to cover your vents completely. Perhaps a better option than relegating Roget and Webster to the toe space?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do use the magnetic covers in a couple of places where they are hidden. In this case, the actual hole from the HVAC system is cut into my wood floor under the cabinet, and the air flows around in the cavity under the cabinet, then comes out through the vent cover in the toe kick. I needed to stop the air from coming out from the hole in the floor, so there's nothing magnetic there.

      So far Webster and Roget have been working great. Strange, but it works!

      Delete
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  6. what a good idea for better air flow system. plz provide me some answer key on this system

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