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Question DetailsAsked on 6/2/2016

Want to know if adding a second return to the AC will improve efficiency and make the house feel better.

I have a 1200 sq ft condo which has two floors. The bottom floor has the one and only return in the AC system. I was wondering if it is worth it to add a second return to the system on the second floor to make the system more efficient and make the house feel better (second floor is always warmer that the first).

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1 Answer


Might - and actually if you do not have a door between the two level should have been a return at each level anyway. If wide-open stairs, sometimes the return is put only at the lower level to try to draw the hot air back down from upstairs to downstairs rather than let the heat rise and stay upstairs - though that usually does not work well.

A second return might help - though whether it could tie into the same return duct as the downstairs one (so short to very short new duct run) or should run a good distance back to the furnace before joining in would depend on your condo and ducting configuration.

A Heating and A/C contractor with experience in designing and balancing duct systems is what you need - both to say if it is likely to help or if there is something else simpler that can be done, and to do the work. It is possible that just adjusting the upstairs or downstairs register (or putting in an adjustable one in place of a fixed louver one) will take care of the problem if it is primarily an imbalance between floors issue. If it is a concentration of the hot air (assuming you are talking heating season) on the top floor due to open passage from bottom to top, might not. Of course, if the "hot" top floor is in summertime, then problem could be too little airflow to the upstairs, which an added return vent might help - as might a door (if space exists) to stop cold air from flowing down the stairs.

Overheating upstairs due to inadequate attic insulation or ventilation is also a possibility.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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