We live in a 20-year-old house over a crawl space. We recently replaced the heating and air conditioning. Our feet get cold in the winter, despite wearing heavy socks and slippers.
We are wondering about two upgrades.
The first is to have the crawl space sealed and heated and air-conditioned. Would air-conditioning make the floors feel cold in the summer? Would the added cost to the heating in the winter be significant? We were warned by a contractor we could get fumes in the house from the material used to seal the area. Is this correct?
The other option is to replace the carpeting in our family room and put in floor heating. A flooring dealer told us he can put it under carpet. Is this safe and reliable? What other questions should we be asking?
If you’re still having issues after a free energy audit, we strongly recommend hiring a certified energy rater to pinpoint deficiencies in the home.
A 20-year-old home usually needs significant upgrades to air seal the home to improve its comfort levels. What you did not say is whether or not you had a problem before the heating upgrade. If the new furnace was installed using the existing 20-year-old ductwork, there may be a problem with the size of the ducts verses the output of the new furnace fan. This is something the HVAC contractor should be able to answer.
The ducts need to be sized for maximized airflow to each register in the home. Each room, except the kitchen and bathrooms, should also have a cold air return to maximize airflow.
I often advise clients to close and seal the crawl space vents and add an opening to the ductwork in the crawl. This needs to be inspected and installed by a qualified HVAC expert.
There is always the problem of the ducts being oversized or undersized for the home. When conditioning the crawl space, it is important that all the foundation perimeter walls are insulated from the rim joists down to the top of the footings.
It is also important that all the soil under the home is completely covered with a 6-millimeter or thicker vapor barrier.
If your contractor uses closed cell spray-on foam to insulate the crawl, there may be an odor for a short time. The conditioning of the crawl will help warm the floors and reduce energy costs and keep air in the crawl dry.
Floors can be heated under the carpet using hot water pipes connected to a water heater. Plastic panels and flexible tubing are installed on the concrete floor before adding the floor covering.