In a perfect world, your home's climate-control system delivers air evenly throughout your home, resulting in balanced comfort from basement to attic and everywhere in between. In the real world, many homeowners find themselves with one or more rooms that are simply too cold no matter what temperature the thermostat is set at. While a variation of up to 3 degrees between rooms is normal, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, any significantly colder rooms likely point to a problem with your heating system or the building envelope.
A room that's much colder than other areas of the home could be the result of faulty duct design or lack of maintenance. For example, a duct run that's too long with too many bends may fail to distribute warm air properly. The DOE reports that as much as 20 percent of air that passes through ducts is lost due to leaks, holes or poor connections. Not only can air escape through joints and other holes in the ducts before it reaches a room, but the entire duct can come loose from the distribution vent in the room, preventing warm air from routing to the space. Cold rooms can also be caused by blocked ducts or ducts that are tangled or kinked. While you may be able to resolve some of these issues yourself by taking a peek into the ceiling, more complex problems may require the help of a trained mechanical contractor.
Drafts and Air Leaks
Walls, doors, windows and other elements that separate the exterior from the interior of your home make up the building envelope. Air that leaks in or out of this envelope can cause uncomfortable drafts or cold rooms. While the attic is often the biggest source of air leaks, air can also enter or exit the home under doors, around windows, and even through electrical outlets and light fixtures. Eliminate air leaks by caulking or filling these openings with insulation. Use door sweeps and gaskets around doors and windows, and make sure the damper on your fireplace is closed when the unit is not in use.
In some cases, cold rooms could be that way simply because of the way your home is positioned on the lot. For example, in the Northern Hemisphere, rooms that face south naturally collect heat energy from the sun throughout the day. Rooms on the north side of a home, though, don't capture as much solar heat energy, making them colder than those facing the south. If this is the cause of your cold rooms, consider adding a small space heater or room heater to north-facing rooms to make your home more comfortable.
Rooms without adequate insulation may feel colder than properly insulated rooms. Attics, rooms constructed over the garage, basements and room additions are particularly vulnerable to this effect, according to the DOE. Check accessible spaces such as unfinished attics to see if you have enough insulation. The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association provides guidance regarding how much insulation is appropriate in different parts of your home based on where you live.
Zoned Heating Systems
When you simply can't determine the cause of a cold room, consider a zoned heating system. While traditional central heating systems are controlled by a single thermostat, zoned systems use multiple thermostats and dampers in the ductwork to direct air only where it's needed. This makes it easier to balance the temperature in your home and maximize comfort.
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