October 7, 2019

Troubleshoot uneven heating.

Routine maintenance makes sure your heat pump is working at peak performance. But if one room is typically colder than the rest of your home, here are a few DIY tips you can do to help.

Test your thermostat.

Affix a thermometer on your wall next to your thermostat. Place a towel behind the thermometer to prevent any hot or cold transfer from the wall. Check the two readings after about 15 minutes. If the readings are more than a few degrees off from one another, you may have a faulty thermostat, need new batteries, or your thermostat needs to be calibrated. Over time, your thermostat can lose calibration, which can affect thermostat temperature, so routine maintenance is a good idea. Check your owner’s manual to see what is recommended — different products have different calibration techniques. You can always ask a professional for help.

SMART TIP: Make sure your thermostat is working optimally; it contributes directly to how reliable and economical your HVAC system is performing.

Inspect your vents.

First, make sure that a rug or piece of furniture is not covering your vents. Turn off your HVAC and remove the covers to clean them. Inspect the inner vent with a flashlight or take a picture with your smartphone. Use a vacuum (a heavy-duty one works best) to clean the duct and crevices.

Clean your returns.

Inspect and clean your returns by turning off your HVAC and removing the grates. Clean the grates with soapy water and vacuum inside the air duct.

Check your fireplace.

Fire needs oxygen to burn. That airflow draws cooler air in from colder parts of your home, creating what feels like a cold draft. Further, warmed air escapes through the chimney. When you’re not using the fireplace, make sure the damper is closed to keep air from escaping through the chimney. You can also consider a blower and glass fireplace doors for your fireplace or an insert—vented, so it draws air from the outside.

Check for leaks around windows and exterior doors.

If your room has a lot of windows, check for leaks. Hold a candle to the edges of a window, and if the air blows sideways—you have a leak. Apply rubber stripping along the edges of each window. Heavy draperies or blinds also work to keep the cold air out.

Replace the weather stripping on your exterior doors. Cold air can quickly enter a room due to cracks in your stripping.

Do any of your exterior walls feel cold?

Check the insulation quality and quantity in your attic and any exterior wall you can access. Verify that you have the recommended amount based on R-value. You may want to consult a professional to be sure. If you don’t have the right amount of insulation or a suitable R-value—you may be losing warm air. Adding insulation, if necessary, can help keep the warm air in and the cold air outside.

Don’t partially close vents.

CAUTION: Partially closing vents in your house to redirect air is not recommended. By closing vents, you increase the pressure in your air ducts. This added pressure can encourage leaks in your ductwork and damage your blower.

Get a humidifier.

As you heat the air in your home, the humidity drops; air with higher levels of moisture feels warmer than drier air at the same temperature! Even putting a pot of boiling water on the stove helps add a bit of moisture to the room. Increased humidity during the winter can also have additional benefits such as relieving symptoms of dehydration, asthma, and a dry, irritated throat. You can call a professional for an in-duct humidifier or choose one that stands alone.

If the DIY suggestions don’t help warm you up, ask an HVAC professional about the following comfort upgrades.

Relocate your thermostat to an interior wall. 

Make sure your thermostat is not in direct sunlight, or near a kitchen, or door. Your system will run until the area around the thermostat reaches the set temperature, so move it away from any cold and heat sources.

Additionally, thermostats with remote sensors like the Honeywell T9 Smart Thermostat can help you control the temperature in any room of your home. Add a sensor to a room, and the sensor tells your thermostat what the temperature is in that room. Your thermostat will use the sensor’s reading to control when your system comes on or shuts off.

Invest in a zoning system for efficient home comfort. 

Zoning gives you the ability to control the temperature in each zone or area of your home. Electronically controlled dampers in your ductwork and a thermostat for each zone allow for area-specific temperature management and can eliminate a hot zone! Please consider that ductwork changes may be required.

Mitsubishi Mini-Split Systems are an excellent solution to supplement your existing HVAC system. 

A Mini-Split’s small size and versatility make it suitable for most rooms of your home that you want to keep warm. (Mini-Splits need a framed wall with enough space for proper mounting.)

  • Mini-Splits are extremely efficient (up to 26 SEER).
  • Mini-Splits can more efficiently match the heating and cooling loads of a home.

Check for leaks in your ductwork. 

You could be losing heat through faulty or aging ductwork. The ductwork could also be improperly sized, negatively affecting the airflow in your home.

Uneven heating can also be an indication that you have a problem with your HVAC or ductwork. Have a professional give you an in-home assessment to check for poor or old insulation, faulty ductwork, or an improperly sized HVAC unit. And if your HVAC system is more than 12 years old, it may be losing efficiency. A new, high-efficiency system may correct uneven temperatures—when properly sized and installed.

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