In the summertime, your bedroom is too hot, even when the air conditioner is cranked up. This forces you to make the rest of the house like an icebox just so that you can sleep.
During the cold months, your kid’s room is freezing, even when the rest of the house is nice and toasty. Not exactly the best environment for play, let alone homework.
And who knows what the deal is with the downstairs bathroom.
One of the most frustrating experiences for families anywhere—but especially in Colorado with our inclement weather—is when the home’s HVAC system doesn’t seem to be doing its job correctly (or seems to be doing it too well) in certain rooms or areas.
Usually known as hot or cold spots, this is a fairly common problem for homeowners. It can happen whether your HVAC system is brand new or if it’s been chugging along faithfully for a decade.
The solution to hot and cold spots is a technique called air balancing, and it works whether you’re in Fort Collins, Greeley, or anywhere else in Northern Colorado.
To become a great air balancer, you have to become something of a “temperature detective.” There’s a number of different causes for imbalanced temperatures, and all but a few of them you can reliably solve on your own without having to call in a HVAC pro.
Here’s how you narrow down what’s causing a hot or cold spot in your home:
Follow These Steps Before You Begin Testing
Just like any good detective, you want to make sure you’re working with reliable data. Before you start testing out the solutions detailed in the next section, make sure that you…
- Set your thermostat to your preferred temperature (e.g., 78 degrees)
- Don’t fiddle with your thermostat for at least 2-3 hours to make sure all temperatures have normalized
- Make changes based on problems that needed to be resolved
- Check the hot or cold spots for improvements (again, after a few hours)
- Repeat as necessary until the air balancing perfection is achieved
To make the process a bit easier, and to avoid the inevitable “Well I think it’s better in here…” statements, you may want to pick up a couple of digital thermometers to place in affected areas/rooms. You can get them at your local hardware store for only a few bucks each, and they’ll likely save you a ton of guesswork.
DIY Identifying & Fixing Potential Problems Leading to Hot or Cold Spots
The easiest problems to identify and fix likely have to do with your vents, so we’ll start our sleuthing there:
- Check the damper blades on each vent in affected areas—that’s the adjustable portion that allows for more or less air flow. It seems like such a small thing, but they can have a fairly dramatic effect on temperatures.
- Adjust damper blades roughly one fourth or one third of the way during testing to zero in on the optimal temperature.
- During the summer, make sure the damper blades are open more if the area is too hot. If the area is too cold, close them more.
- Reverse the above process during the winter.
For multi-story homes, remember that heat rises. If it’s too hot upstairs but too cold downstairs during the summer, fully open your vents upstairs and partially close them downstairs. Again, simply reverse this process during the winter. If you have multiple thermostats per story, they should probably have a 2 degree offset (e.g., upstairs is set to 76 and downstairs is set to 78 in the summer).
Speaking of thermostats, make sure you don’t store any electronic equipment near them. This can affect the thermometer and cause it to be inaccurate. Devices such as televisions, desktop computers, or other appliances can interfere with the thermostat.
Next, consider that you may wish to turn on your HVAC system’s fan. If it’s set to “auto,” the system will only blow air periodically. When switched to the on position, the fan will blow continuously. This will require more energy and thus may increase your utility bill, but can help during especially hot summer or cold winter days in .
While you’re looking at your vents, make sure that your air filters are clean. This will also dramatically improve the consistency of air balance, not to mention saving you at least 5-15% on your energy bill. It’s easy to do yourself, which we discussed in our post 7 Easy Ways Northern Colorado Residents Are Lowering Their Air Conditioning Bill This Summer.
Finally, if the hot or cold spot is limited to a single room, consider installing thermal curtains and/or energy efficient windows.
Air Balancing Techniques You Might Not Be Able to DIY
If the steps in the previous section didn’t work, you may need to call in an HVAC pro (like us) to resolve a more complicated problem such as:
- Repair ductwork (damages, defects, loose joints, etc.)
- Improve ductwork with additional return ducts if airflow is bottlenecked
- Adjust or repair the HVAC fan
- Install an extra air handler if needed
- Install booster fans
Best Buy Heating and Air Can Help With Your Hot or Cold Spots
…Among many other things. Whether you need a new air conditioner in Loveland or a furnace repair in Windsor, we’re proud to serve the local Northern Colorado area.
Feel free to reach out to us at (970) 218-0414 or send us an email. We look forward to being of assistance!