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How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?

 
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Old 01-23-2010, 01:53 PM   #1
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How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


Gentlemen,

I'm working on this big old mansion that was converted into five apartments some years ago. There's a single forced-air gas furnace for the whole building and, having once ben a single home, the ducting is not laid out for zoning easily. And it'd be a Gordian knot to try to balance. The single thermostat is located in a common hallway that really has little relationship to the apartments in terms of room temp versus furnace cycle. So everyone is either too hot or too cold. What I need is some way that if one apartment is too cold, the furnace comes on, but only until that unit is heated, and the others can close their registers to keep the heat down, so we end up with the system auto-balanced by the users.

Is there a way to arrange this?

Or any other smart solution would be welcome too.

Thanks.
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Old 01-23-2010, 03:53 PM   #2
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


No laughing guys - http://www.pbs.org/thisoldhouse/vide...rced-air-zones

This might be your answer or help point you in the right direction

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Old 01-23-2010, 04:18 PM   #3
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


How are the supplys and returns being provided to each apt ?
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Old 01-23-2010, 04:36 PM   #4
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


Quote:
Originally Posted by SLSTech View Post
No laughing guys - http://www.pbs.org/thisoldhouse/vide...rced-air-zones

This might be your answer or help point you in the right direction
Interesting. The inflatable bladder is an interesting solution for these old places where the secod floor ducts are sealed inside lathe-and-plaster walls...
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Old 01-23-2010, 04:41 PM   #5
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


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Originally Posted by MarcD View Post
How are the supplys and returns being provided to each apt ?
Furnace is in a full basement, and theres easy access to the ducts for the basement horizontal runs - but then they turn up into walls. This is a three storey house - you've got three storeys of rectangular supply and return duct sealed inside lathe and plaster, and in that run the duct will service two or three different apartments on different levels. Of course these are 50 year old 12" x 12" forged iron registers in the wall at the baseboard, not new 4x10 floor registers.
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Old 01-23-2010, 05:58 PM   #6
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


I am not a hvac guy but I have done quite a few large single family to multi family buildings. I would think from the sounds the owner might need to look into converting each apt into its own independant heating.
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Old 01-24-2010, 09:40 AM   #7
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


Well, I seem to be getting off track.

For now all I want is to get the thermostat function out of the common hallway and into the actual apartments so its reading something useful, and to have the mutli-point temperature sensing feature of these zoning systems so that the furnace comes on whenever any one apartment is too cold. Tenants in warm apartments can simply close their registers.

It sems to me that essentially what I want is the multiple thermostats of a zoned system, without the damper function. Hmmmm.....wouldn't multiple ordinary thermostats connected in parallel do the same? If any one switches on, it turns on the furnace...no?
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:01 AM   #8
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


Bob,
If you plan on having the occupants turn down the heat by closing the dampers you (owners) are going to be paying a lot of money in heating costs. I would think the tenants would just open a window rather than mess with register dampers.
Might as well just leave the thermostat where it is and just set it at the max temp the owner/occupants want. Then they can play with the dampers and widows.

Even if you were able to rig up a 5 thermostat system, if one person set their temp to 80*, that's what every one gets. Your going to have a lot of conditions effecting the heat everyone gets. Length or run, insulation, floor level etc.

What you may consider is to put the first floor unit(s) on their own system. They are typically the coldest as far as convection goes, but get the best performance from the furnace. Then set a thermostat in a common area on upper levels for those units.

Is it a one owner building or condo conversion. If it's condos good luck trying to get everyone on board for any plan you come up with.

I saw that TOH episode and that sys wasn't cheap. but did what you are looking to do. Spring is coming so look for the Ronco fishing pole commercials.
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:18 AM   #9
 
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


How about a t-stat with remote temp sensors for each apt ?
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:34 AM   #10
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


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I would think the tenants would just open a window rather than mess with register dampers.
This is exactly what 9.9 out of 10 renters will do. When it gets too hot and it's time to close a damper they don't want to wait for the place to slowly cool down so that is why they see a window and go "oh yeah, open the window, cool her down right now."
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:42 AM   #11
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


Quote:
Originally Posted by SLSTech View Post
No laughing guys - http://www.pbs.org/thisoldhouse/vide...rced-air-zones

This might be your answer or help point you in the right direction
Very cool video.
It's always great to see what's out there for technology.....even if it is expensive.....

Thanks
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:34 PM   #12
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


Don't expect the tenants to be happy opening and closing registers.
As someone else said. They'll just open the windows.

Since your looking for a "cheap" solution.

Use an averaging thermostat. You install a temp sensor in each apartment.
When the average temp falls below the thermostats set temp. it brings on the heat.

Yes, it still has draw backs. Such as if someone is cooking and baking all day. And their apartment gets real warm/hot from that. It will cause the other apartments to have a lower temp. Until that apartment cools off. But it will only be a few degrees.
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:35 PM   #13
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


Do any of the returns in the wall serve more then one floor?
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Old 01-25-2010, 07:24 AM   #14
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


Quote:
Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
Don't expect the tenants to be happy opening and closing registers.
As someone else said. They'll just open the windows.

Since your looking for a "cheap" solution.

Use an averaging thermostat. You install a temp sensor in each apartment.
When the average temp falls below the thermostats set temp. it brings on the heat.

Yes, it still has draw backs. Such as if someone is cooking and baking all day. And their apartment gets real warm/hot from that. It will cause the other apartments to have a lower temp. Until that apartment cools off. But it will only be a few degrees.

That's just about what I signed back on this morning to post.

When AFrame said "Even if you were able to rig up a 5 thermostat system, if one person set their temp to 80*, that's what every one gets." I thought, "Well, I just make it so they can't change the setting and I have them all set the same." Which leads directly to having a single thermostat with just temperature sensors in each apartment. That way I can have the thermostat control anywhere I want - heck even in the basement near the electrical panel or te furnace.

But as for "averaging" - I can't help thinking what I want is to key off the minimum to make sure no one drops below the legal temperature limit. But I see the problem - the warm apartment then opens their widow, it cools down and becomes the minimum and the furnace blasts all day kaying off that apartment....mind you, it'd be the same with a truly zoned system.. apparently you cant avoid stupid.
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Old 01-25-2010, 07:24 AM   #15
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


Quote:
Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
Do any of the returns in the wall serve more then one floor?
That I'll have to investigate.
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Old 01-25-2010, 08:34 AM   #16
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Re: How To Regulate One Furnace For Five Apartments?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bob_cntrctr View Post

it'd be the same with a truly zoned system.. apparently you cant avoid stupid.
No. A zoned system wouldn't over heat any of the apartments. Since the zone dampers would close off the air to all the apartments except the one/ones calling for heat.

A good zone panel for a building like that is the Honeywell Envirozone.
Its a communicating system.
Uses auto mastering. Meaning the zone that calls for heat the most. Is the only zone that can bring on the furnace.

If another zone other then the original zone starts having more calls for heat . It will automatically make that the master zone.

What it does is. When the master zone is calling or heat. It ask the stats in the other zones what temp it is in that zone. And what its set temp is.
Then it opens the dampers to zones that are a few tenths of a degree cooler then set temp. So it doesn't have to short cycle and start up again 5 or 10 minutes after it shut off.

Semi draw back. If someone decides to turn their heat up 5 degrees. And they aren't the master zone. They will have to wait until the master zone calls. Which won't take long. The dampers will open and try mixing the air to get that zone to temp. When it does. The master zone will cool off. And call for heat.

Next semi draw back. Its not a cheap system.

But, it can save the landlord a lot of money on his heating bill.

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