What are hot and cold spots?
You may find that your home has hot spots and cold spots at different times of the year. Do you notice that the upper story or attic of your home is always considerably warmer than the rest of your house? Are your bathrooms chilly when you step out of the shower in the winter? Do you have vents in your home that just seem to pour out hotter or colder air than the rest of the house? These hot spots or cold spots are more than just uncomfortable! They’re a sign that something about your HVAC system isn’t functioning just perfectly. Don’t panic. We can help.
What causes uneven temperatures in my home?
Typically, there are a few key reasons why your home is heated or cooled unevenly. Some causes are perfectly normal and can be fixed simply while other causes are signs of trouble.
Insulation issues. Whether we’re talking about the insulation in your attic or the weatherstripping on your windows, any space where air can seep through from inside to outside (and vice versa) will cause uneven home temperatures. If your attic is hot, the cause is likely a combination of the fact that warm air rises – which we can’t change – and poor insulation, which can be fixed. If your bathroom is always unbearably cold in the morning, check the window – is it coldest there? You may just need to caulk or weatherstrip your openings. This is a simple diagnosis and a simple fix. However, there is often more to the story.
Poor air flow. Sometimes we get calls for uneven air distribution only to find that some of your key vents or registers are closed. The homeowner usually has a good chuckle about this and learns a little lesson. Make sure to really inspect each vent and, if they have the capacity to open and close, make sure they’re open when you want them to be. However, air flow is also an issue if the ductwork for your home was installed poorly. Sometimes the rooms furthest from your HVAC unit don’t get conditioned as well as other rooms because the vents don’t support the journey – this is more common in homes over 2000 sqft. We have methods for diagnosing and remedying this issue.
Ductwork leaks. Speaking of ductwork, it leaks. When ducts leak, bad things happen: First, your home will not be heated or cooled evenly or reliably. Second, your system will be over-exerting to make sure your home stays as cool or warm as possible, while a portion of that energy and impact is just being wasted as the air blows out of a hole in the duct. We can test for duct leaks, repair them, or replace duct components as needed. This is more common than you might think and if left untouched, will cause major damage to your system and major added cost to your energy bill.
Isolated areas. There may also be areas of your home that don’t get the benefit of your central HVAC system but which you would like to heat and cool – for example, a garage, exterior workshop, closed-in porch or other annex. If you have a space like this, we can recommend a couple different avenues for regulating the temperature inside: 1) We can install a ductless system that is used to heat and cool JUST the space in question or 2) We can run ductwork to the area. The choice depends on budget, intentions for the space, its size, and proximity to other areas of your home.
Can you fix uneven heating and cooling?
Yes. Hot or cold spots are common, we fix this situation for customers all the time. We use sophisticated central air conditioning and heating design techniques and software to determine the proper size and number of ducts you need to maintain comfort throughout your home. A McCullough comfort adviser can inspect your home – the HVAC unit(s), the ducts, and the rooms themselves – and tell you how it performing and, if need be, repair or replace damaged ducts, add returns or vents to balance the comfort from room to room. Oftentimes, rebates are available to help pay for some of these services – especially duct sealing.