I'm trying to understand a new ductwork system that was half-built and then abandoned. It was built with a cold-weather heatpump and possibly an ERV in mind. It has four supply lines fully ducted through the 2nd floor. There are two returns, one large return on the ground floor and one smaller one in the upstairs bedroom. I'm confused because the returns appear to only connect to one another and have no openings for connecting to a plenum/blower or ERV. I guess it is awaiting having holes cut in it?

There are 7 or 8 openings for more supply lines presumably for 5 more ground floor rooms and apparently, the basement. I dont understand the one insulated duct shown. (or whether its even connected) I expect a need for one more return for a ground floor bedroom. Unfortunately, I dont see any holes in the wall for connecting to a compressor outside, so that is also confusing. There is a 240v line going outside for the heatpump, but there is no separate circuit for a blower in the basement, which is surprising to me.

For clarity, there is no existing furnace, heatpump, radiator or gas line. For context, the house is a 90 year old 1370 sq ft stone foundation farm house in a high humidity, temperate area of pennsylvania. I'm having trouble finding an HVAC contractor because they seem to dislike finishing somebody else's work. I'd like to understand what I'm dealing with in the hopes of getting the heat turned on before winter comes.

Ductwork photos

Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • Getting the heat turned on before winter comes means forget about the ductwork that no one wants to touch. Have a furnace and a condenser put in. Then you need a small handyman service to botch that ductwork some more to get w/e you can out of it. W/o being on site I can't say much except that elbow is for a fresh air intake (?) which also needs a hole cut in your house. These were metalsmiths, not HVAC guys. Which if you aren't an HVAC company, IDK how you'd hire those guys. If any of it is obvious, you do that. Then send pics with 6 less holes to deal with.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 18:32
  • 1
    You have maybe 5% of a finished system. Rather than figure out what the plan was, if there even was one, you should just design what you want from scratch. Don't be intent on reusing what's there unless it happens to fit your plan.
    – jay613
    Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 18:42
  • Finish the demo. +1. Then cut a check for 20k.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 18:48
  • I'd consider all options, as if this wasn't even there. It got abandoned for some reason... With "no furnace, heatpump, radiator or gas line" I'd suggest looking at cold climate mini-split heat pumps as one of "consider ALL options" which frees up a lot of space the half-Frankensteined duct-o-pus wants to take. It may not be right for you in the end, but there's no better time to consider it than when you are about to drop a pile of money on not freezing somehow anyway.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 23:05


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