Does your home suffer from hot spots?
If your house has uneven temperatures, you are not alone. With a central air and heating system investment, you’d expect equal heating or cooling throughout your home. Unfortunately hot and cold spots are common for many reasons, leaky ducts, inadequate size or layout of ducts, not enough returns or insulation and even filthy filters. All of these can impact your unit's capacity to evenly heat your home.
Try These Tips when Your Home is Unevenly Heated
1. Use Your Air Vents to Reallocate Air to Needed Areas
When was the last time you looked at your vents or registers? Are they blocked by items in your home? Are they visibly dirty? Your vents and your registers can contribute to uneven cooling if they can’t send air where it needs to go. This can happen if your furniture gets pushed up against them, or if dust and debris builds up on them. You can vacuum vents with an attachment to loosen and remove the debris or reorganize a room for better air movement.
You can also redirect air to certain areas by partially (but not fully) closing some vents on one of the floors of your home. This way, more air will redirect to the second floor and beyond. This will help alleviate pressure build up in the system that would be caused if you were to fully close first floor vents.
2. Switch the Fan from “Auto” to “On”
Look at your thermostat. You can toggle the fan switch between “auto” and “on.” Some modern thermostats have a few more fan control settings as well. If you have uneven home cooling, try turning the switch to the “on” position rather than the “auto” setting. Here's why:
- When in the “on” position, your system’s fan stays on and circulates air, even after the system cycle goes off. This serves to continually circulate the air in your home to help even out temperatures between the first and second floors.
- When in “auto” position, the fan runs only when there is a call for cooling or heating, thus prompting your system to run.
FYI: Depending on the type of furnace blower you have, running the fan will add a little to your electricity use, between $5 – $20 per month.
3. Have Your Air Ducts Checked for Air Leaks
When there’s an air leak present within your duct system, the air meant for a specific destination bleeds off before it can arrive. These leaks, holes and tears in your ducts will definitely make your central air system try to work harder to compensate for the missing air. That, in turn, can lead to even more problems. Have a professional inspect your ducts if you suspect that leaks are contributing to the uneven heating and cooling around your home.
4. Add More Insulation in the Attic
Your attic’s insulation serves the dual purpose of keeping your conditioned air in and the weather-impacted outside air out. If you lack the proper amount or quality of insulation, you may not be getting the full benefit and comfort of your valuable heat.
Meanwhile, wintry air will remain behind. Situations like this can create a noticeable difference between the upstairs and downstairs of a home. Make sure you have the proper amount of insulation in your attic.
5. Control Different Areas with a Zoning System
While a zoning system is a larger investment, it can be one of the most efficient ways to deal with uneven heating. These systems allow you to directly control the temperature in individual areas or floors. Compare this with having one thermostat controlling heating or cooling the whole house.
There are many configurations a professional HVAC contractor can use to set up customized zones in your home. The number of zones recommended will depend on your current heating and cooling situation and the type, size and layout of your home. In general, a zoned system is probably the best option for those that want absolute control over their cooling as the summer starts to come around.
Can Your HVAC System Deliver Even Comfort?
Uneven home heating is usually indicative of a problem. You can try some of the solutions above on your own, and others, like installing a zoning system, should be left to professionals. If all else fails, you may come to the conclusion that it's time for a replacement system. If your central air conditioning system or furnace is more than 10-12 years old, it may be losing efficiency and causing more problems than it's worth.