Heating, Air Conditioning, Fridge, HVAC/Undersized Heat pump


We own a 30 year old 2 story, center hall home, about 3550 sq. ft, located in PA.  It is heated and cooled with a heat pump.  Eight years ago the heat pump and air handler were replaced by a local contractor with an Amana 3.5 ton, with lifetime warranty on compressor.  We have been unhappy with the balance of the system and overall slow response to heat and cool, our biggest problem being cooling the upstairs.  As a result, we recently had 2 other contractors come out to evaluate the system.  Both agreed the current system is undersized but came up with 2 totally different solutions. The first wants to replace the current heat pump and air handler with a new 5 ton model, replace all the ductwork in the basement and install an electronic damper system with a separate thermostat for the 2nd floor.  He also plans to add an additional supply duct to the MBR, which seems under supplied.  The other contractor wants to leave the current system in place as is, but add a second 2.5 ton heat pump to augment the 2nd floor, placing the air handler in the attic and having all air (heat and AC) supplied thru ceiling ducts on the 2nd floor.  He assures us he can effectively heat and cool the second floor through ceiling ducts.  He will also provide a thermostat upstairs.  First contractor price is $12k and second is $9k.  I currently have a very small opening for the attic so the second contractor tells us we would need to install a pull down staircase, at an extra cost.  I like the idea of the first contractor of keeping the system simple with one heat pump and one air handler, but am concerned that it may not effectively cool the second floor, even with electronic dampers.  At the same time, I believe the second contractor's plan will effectively augment the 2nd floor, but question the complexity of 2 heat pumps, 2 air handlers, and how they will interact.  Can you provide some thoughts regarding both suggested fixes to help us make this difficult decision?  And thank you for all your assistance.


The first thing your really suppose to do is a load calculation to determine exactly what size system you need, as your one ton off between the two contractors. How did the first Contractor calculate you need   5 tons ?  How did the 2nd Contractor determine 2.5 ton for upstairs? how many KW heaters are they going to install for the upstairs unit and how did they determine what size to use?   You living in PA I can only assume you have electric heat for the 2nd stage?  

Myself I prefer adding a unit instead of replacing an existing one.

There are federal tax credits and possible state rebates for installing energy star rated equiptment. The minimum SEER for a split system Heat Pump to qualify is 15 SEER 12.5 EER 8.5 HSPF


State rebates:


Heating, Air Conditioning, Fridge, HVAC

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40+ years diversified experience.An HVAC/Refrigeration Self Employed Contractor since 1986. NATE Certifield. Answer questions pertaining to Residential and Commercial Air Conditioning , Warm Air Heating, Heat Pump systems.Mechanical and Electrical troubleshooting of these systems.Be as detailed as possible when describing problem.Packaged unit or split systems.No appliance questions.


Installation and Troubleshooting, Mechanical and Electrical, in following areas, Refrigeration ( Walk In and Reach In Coolers and Freezers ) Commercial Roof Top and Packaged Heating/Cooling ( Natural Gas,Propane, Electric, and Heat Pumps ) Computer Room Air Conditoning Systems,Commercial Residential Packaged and Split Systems Air Conditoning and Heat Pumps.Warm Air Oil , Natural and Propane Gas Heating systems.

Graduated from Private Technical School in 1975. An HVAC/Refrigeration Contractor . Have Unlimited Heating/Piping and Cooling Contractor License.Limited Sheetmetal Contractors License.NATE Certifield. York Certifield Master Heat Pump Technician 1986. Served 33 years combination Active Duty Air Force , Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard in the HVAC/Refrigeration Shop/Mechanical Shop. Troubleshooting/Installing HVAC/Refrigeration Equiptment Worldwide. Retiring in 2003 as a Senior NCO ,and a Mechanical Superintendent.

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