Do you have hot and cold spots in your home? Does your upstairs feel hot and uncomfortable while your downstairs has you chilled and reaching for a sweater? Or is the bedroom at the back of your bungalow cold while your living room is nice and toasty? Not only can this be uncomfortable, but changing the temperature of your home in order to try to correct the problem can lead to higher utility bills.
Some issues will require a skilled technician but there are some DIY actions you can take that may solve the issue.
Check those Filters!
Clean or change the filters regularly to help ensure that the air flowing through is unobstructed by dust, dirt and debris. A dirty filter puts strain on your system by making it work that much harder and longer to regulate the temperature. Hot and cold spots may be lessened by changing or cleaning the filter once a month. Your system will last longer, and your utility bills will be less.
Check the Vents
As obvious as this seems, its easy to forget that a piece of furniture or a rug can easily block a vent – leading to cold spots. This happens because the furniture itself is absorbing the heat. Do a quick check of all your furniture and rugs to make sure no vents are being blocked. A good rule of thumb is to give 18 inches of air space to the vents.
You should also make sure that the vents are at least partially open. If you don’t use a room very often and want to save money you may be tempted to close the vents in that room. However, this can eventually cause damage to your HVAC system’s blower motor.
Remember, heat rises, so if you find that your upper floors are warmer than your main floor, try partially closing the vents on the upper floors. It may take some experimentation to get the right airflow and may change from day to day.
Windows and Doors
The caulking around your doors and windows is important. The more windows and doors you have the more important it is to make sure that they are properly sealed. If they aren’t, this will create unbalanced heat in your home and pockets of cold air in the rooms most affected. Drafts can account for a shocking 30 percent heat loss. Seal these off as best you can to avoid being chilled.
Also, older homes may have window frames that are not insulated properly – they can have gaps between the window frame and the house framing. If you are thinking of getting new doors or windows, it’s wise to hire someone who will look carefully and ensure that the house framing is still in good shape before installing new doors or windows.
Direct Sunlight and Shading
If you have a lot of direct sunlight coming into parts of your home, you’ll experience more warmth at certain times of the day in those areas while the rest of your home will be cooler.
You can block the sun by putting up shades or blinds, tinting the windows or even planting a tree or hedge for shade.
Check the Location of the Thermostat
The thermostat must have an accurate reading of the ambient temperature. Its function is to tell your furnace or air conditioner how much cool air or warm air to deliver. If the thermostat is situated in direct sunlight or other heat sources, it will give an incorrect reading. Move or remove the heat source. For instance, move a lamp or cover the window.
In general, the thermostat should be:
- Away from direct sunlight
- In a central part of the home
- In a dry area with no humidity
- On an interior wall
- Exposed to circulation and not in a closed room
- Away from electronic equipment
Adjust the Ceiling Fans
During the winter, set the ceiling fans to go clockwise, at a slow speed. This will help to evenly distribute warm air.
More Complex Issues
If the above easy fixes don’t resolve the issue, it could be that there is something else that needs attention.
Problems with the Ducts
If you have taken care of the above six items but are still experiencing temperature problems, the ducts may be damaged. In order to find this out, check the airflow of the vents. No airflow or less airflow in certain rooms could indicate leaky or damaged ducts.
The ducts should be:
- Completely sealed
- The right size
- Properly installed, insulated and connected
- If the ducts are not entirely sealed, air will escape into your attic, crawl space or basement where they are usually located. Since 20 to 30 percent of the air can be lost when the ducts are damaged, your utility bills will be affected adversely.
Inspect the ducts if possible – are they loose or sagging? Do they have holes or other signs of damage?
It’s best to call an HVAC professional to assess the damage and to do the repairs. If the ducts are not the right size or were not installed properly, they may need to be replaced.
If you live in an older home, it’s possible you have insufficient insulation and may losing heat in the winter. You may want to check with a professional to see if the amount of insulation in your home meets current recommendations.
Zoning Your Home
Zoning means that you install multiple thermostats in your home. They control the dampers in the air ducts. Zoning is actually a great idea even if you aren’t hampered by hot and cold spots as it can save on utility bills. You’ll be able to adjust temperatures for different rooms and at different times.
But remember, all the previous steps should be looked at. Zoning your home isn’t the answer to the problem if the ducts are faulty or the filter is dirty. But zoning is a good way to enhance each person’s comfort level in the home.
The Size of Your HVAC System
If you recently put an addition on your home, this could cause a problem if the impact on the HVAC system wasn’t considered. This could stress the system and cause uneven temperatures. A professional will be able to determine whether to extend or modify the duct system or perhaps replace the HVAC system.
In any case, an HVAC system which is either too small or too large can result in uneven temperatures in your home. A professional can do a room by room audit of your home’s air conditioning and heating needs.
If you have any issues with your heating contact Forney Air at 214-924-9745. Whether the solution is simple or complex, we’ll be there to make your home comfortable all year round.