Get the monkey off my back, please!

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 3, 2006

The experts say the first step to dealing with a problem is to admit you have one. So, here goes.

My name is Doug, and I have a monkey on my back. I don’t understand my home HVAC system, and I need help.

There, I said it. I feel better already, and I can see a dim light at the end of the long tunnel.


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Here’s the deal. We have a weird heating and air conditioning system in our home.

First off, the water heater is in the attic. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Well, I thought so, too, until I found out that the hot water it produces is run through the system in the winter to provide heat for the home.

Secondly, there are valves on the hoses leaving the unit that directs the heat and cool air. Depending on which way the valve is set, the air either goes to the upstairs or the downstairs of the house — but not both. At least I can’t get it to do both.

I have spent the last two evenings in the attic, which by the way is about 110 degrees, appying duct tape to areas of the unit where cold air is escaping.

I think I have blocked most of the leaks. It looks really ugly, but it is more efficient that it was before.

Now I have to figure out those little levers.

On Tuesday night I was in and out of that attic at least 10 times moving them one way, then going downstairs to see where the air was coming out. If there was no air coming out of the vent, I would go back into the attic and try another setting.

I finally got it to blow like a big dog in the downstairs area, but it only trickles out on the second floor.

I spent pretty much a sleepless night Tuesday because of the temperature upstairs.

I dread when winter comes.

We closed on the home in November of 2005, and very early on we discovered the downstairs was warm and the upstairs cold.

I snooped around a bit in the crawl spaces and discovered not all of them were insulated. I then spent a good chunk of money and laid insulation in there, hoping that would help. All that did was make my wallet a bit lighter. It was still cold upstairs.

In talking to the former owner, I found out about the little levers. That’s when I first began playing with them. I never did get it right, and then summer came.

I’m still playing with them, all with the same result — either too cold or too hot, but only in one part of the house.

What am I doing wrong? Or, is the system not working correctly?

I need some help.

How many of you out there have a similar system? Have you been able to figure it out, or do you simply live with it as I am right now?

I would really like to know. Maybe you can help me learn how to adjust my system so we are comfortable the

year around.

I want this monkey off my back!

Grant is the Managing editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. Reach him at or call 934-9603