Forced air heat needs the right returns

04/11/2014 7:00 PM

04/12/2014 7:37 PM

I own a house that is about 150 years old. I put a 3-story addition on 35 years ago. The heating is forced air by gas. I think I have one or two vents on the first floor, but the first-floor room gets cold. The heating man did not put in a return for that room, adding that I can use the entire room as a return. What would you recommend?

The furnace is pumping warm air into the room, but with no return duct, there is no place for the warm air to go. Put a return in the floor at the opposite side of the room, and I think things will improve.

My house has old aluminum siding, which needs painting or replacement. I have gotten rough estimates for painting ($4,000 to $5,000), and my neighbor had his similar house re-sided for $14,000 to $15,000. The roof will also need replacing soon ($6,500), but my bigger issue is the painting, as it is really mildewed and weathered. Is re-siding worth the investment? My brother suggested making a deal with a local metal salvager to have them take the metal and pay me for the materials, as a way to reduce costs. Do you think that’s a good idea? Also, is it a better idea to paint/re-side the house before or after I get a new roof?

Sand and repaint, and you’ll have to do it again in five years, if you are lucky. The idea of selling the aluminum is appealing, because it will reduce the cost of re-siding. If you re-side, I suggest you choose Cedar Impressions, which looks like painted shingles and is the best of vinyl siding. Have the roof done first.

My house was built in 1930. It has had many repairs over the years, and my wife and I are starting to think it may not be worth it to keep fixing it. Problem is, I do not have the skill set to fix the house, so we have to pay someone. We cannot afford a new house. What is your advice: stay and keep fixing the house, or try for a newer home, which may have issues of its own?

Why not put the house up for sale? It might take a while, but a handyman could find it a good thing to fix it up. A sale will give a good start on another house that you can afford. It’s the only way to avoid all the repairs you don’t know how to make. Another idea: Stick with the house and buy a handyman’s book.

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