Cost to add heating to the upper level

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Posted by: from Coquitlam
1/21/2016 at 4:02:54 AM

My town house has 3 levels (2400 sq feet). Basement and main level heated through a furnace and upper level with electric baseboard heaters. I would like to know the cost related to this upgrade.

Thank you in advance.

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Date/Time1/21/2016 at 10:37:36 AM

If you plan on heating the 3rd level you would need to add ducting to the 3rd level. If you already have this in place then the only big cost would be a furnace that can do the job. Total square footage of all 3 levels. A certified plumber or heating company can calculate the total BTU's needed and match the furnace to that.

Hopefully this helps.

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Date/Time1/22/2016 at 8:36:54 PM

Hi Chaturika,

Rodney is correct although in a lot of cases when the furnace was sized usually with a little contingency. I'm from the old school and first I would run the ductwork as needed and keep the furnace you have to keep your costs down. I'm willing to bet you don't need to change it. The only thing that is going to happen here is your furnace will now run a little longer each cycle and simply take a little longer. In actual fact, works better for you Then simply remove or turn of the electric units and have them for a back up if needed.

If all else fails spend the money to get a new furnace. Enjoy :) now you can go on a little holiday with the money you saved. :) enjoy that too.

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Date/Time1/25/2016 at 12:29:57 PM

Hi Chaturika,

Unfortunately there is no way to provide a cost for something like that without a thorough understanding of your existing home.

If you are saying that your basement and main floor are heated with a Forced Air Gas system with ductwork and not a Boiler with radiators, that is a big difference.

In the case of the Forced Air Gas (ducts), it is not correct to simply add ducts to your existing system. Both the volume of air and the velocity of the air moving through the ducts have to be factored in. In order to calculate the duct sizes required you would need to have a Heat Loss/Gain calculation done which factors in things like size and types of windows, type and quantity of insulation, the number of bends in the system and much more. Once this is done, you will likely discover that, as it appears your system was not designed to include the third floor (which is peculiar), that you will need a new plenum and main trunk in your basement and perhaps a modification to all of the ductwork.

In addition, any Forced Air Gas systems will require that you also install a "Return Air" ductwork system from your second floor back to your furnace.

If your system was designed for your basement and main floor, despite the fact that your house is 2 storeys, it means that your system is designed for a bungalow. Simply adding ducts to the second floor and retaining your furnace is like adding another bungalow load to your furnace. It would be similar to running ductwork next door and heating the neighbours bungalow from your furnace.

If you want an accurate and correct costing, hire a licensed HVAC designer to produce a Heat Loss/Gain calculation and design and then present that to HVAC contractors in your area for bids. The design will specify BTU's and duct sizes required to do the job correctly.

On a side note, while not impossible, it is strange that the second floor was not included in the HVAC design. I would make a quick call to the City Building and Planning department and obtain a list of all permits taken out on your home in the past. It is possible that someone has converted space that was not intended to be living space. If this was done without a permit, for your family's piece of mind, I would have an Engineer have a look at the structure.

Best of luck

Jason Irving

Cedarfalls Building Consultants Limited

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Date/Time1/27/2016 at 2:26:57 PM

Hi Chaturika,

This is a tough question. It's pretty common to see this type of mixed HVAC system in the Lower Mainland. Usually, the builder did this to save money on the HVAC system. I don't think it's going to be a simple fix. Adding ducts and cold air returns would involve opening up walls and more. This could easily turn into a $20,000 reno.

You may consider upgrading the entire system to hydronic radiant baseboards. Radiant heating, by far, the most efficient way to heat your home. This type of an upgrade would mean running new PVC hot water pipes to all three floors. There are some huge benefits, you'll see a big savings on your heating bill and you will be able to install a "hot water on demand" system. Nothing better for an active family.


Andrew at Kerr Construction

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