If you’re reading this then you know exactly what we’re talking about. That one room – it could be an addition, playroom or bedroom – is always so darn cold. And if you turn the heat up high enough to get comfortable there, then the rest of the house is unbearable (not to mention what that does to your energy bills!)
Maybe a whole floor of your house feels markedly chillier than another. Either way, you just want to be comfortable. It’s not too much to ask. And once you understand why it’s so cold, you can work on a solution to get there.
Here are some of the most common reasons that you suffer the effects of that one perpetually cold room – and what you can do about it.
The Vents Are Closed Or Blocked
Sounds obvious, right? But you might be surprised by how easy it is to overlook the simplest solutions. We frequently warn against closing vents in one room to divert airflow to another, but that doesn’t mean everyone always listens! If you’ve closed vents at some point (like during summer months, in an attempt to keep a room cooler) then it’s altogether possible they were never reopened.
Or depending on how easily the louvres of your vents open and close, they might have accidentally been closed the last time someone took a broom to the floor.
Even if they’re wide open, airflow may be restricted in other ways. Placing a desk, table or armoire over a vent, for example, can mean that warm air isn’t distributed properly. Heavy window treatments can have the same effect. Worse, someone may have decided that the only place to put the filing cabinet or area rug was right smack on top of a vent in the floor. All of these things – inadvertent or not – can really affect how the room warms up.
Before you dig into bigger causes, see if your furnace is being prevented from doing its job in the first place.
Your Vents And Filters Are Too Dirty
If either filters or vents are dirty or clogged, you might be having heating issues in the rest of the house, too. These issues can be more pronounced in rooms that are already in tough spots – above the garage, for example.
Even if you live in a new home – sometimes especially if you live in a new home! – dirty ducts can really compromise airflow. Why especially in new homes? Because often, construction leaves dust, wood shavings and other debris to accumulate, clogging ducts even before you’ve laid the area rug over the vent!
Old home can fare just as poorly. Years of dust, pet hair and other debris can accumulate, not only exacerbating your heating (and cooling) woes, but leading to unhealthy air quality.
If that one room is cold – but the rest of your house is not a lot better – start by changing filters, and consider having your ducts cleaned.
Your Ducts Are Leaking
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 20-30% of air that moves through your ducts can be lost to leaks. And that’s considered “typical”! If your ducts are leaking, it could be even worse. A lot worse.
Before you blame the furnace, see if your ducts are up to their task. Considering that ducts can be located in attics and basements and even within walls, it’s best to call a professional HVAC contractor. They’ll know where to look, and can even help you determine whether your ducts are improperly installed, poorly sized, or otherwise compromised.
Properly sized and sealed ducts are especially important for carrying warm air to rooms that are farther away from your central air handler. So a room at the extremities of your home can fare worse if ducts aren’t up to par.
The HVAC System Is Unbalanced
There’s a reason that installing a central heating or cooling system is not a DIY job. A lot more goes into doing it right than you may realize.
For starters, ducts have to be properly sized – that can mean larger ducts and more supply vents for rooms that need it (like those outside rooms farthest from the air handler or above the garage).
Dampers must be properly installed, which will effectively restrict airflow where it’s needed less, diverting it to those colder spots.
There’s heating capacity to consider, circulation and ventilation, and myriad other variables, like how many windows are in a room and the optimal location for vents.
If it’s not done properly in the first place, you could be suffering from “that one cold room” or just uneven temperature distribution in general. Even when it is done right, your system can eventually become unbalanced through regular wear and tear. When that happens, air is no longer distributed effectively and it’s time for a rebalancing.
Your HVAC contractor can rebalance ducts, dampers and registers to correct airflow and improve how evenly your home is warmed.
You Have Single-Zone Heating
Sometimes even the most well-balanced system is no match for a large home. Heat rises, which means downstairs rooms may seem unnaturally cold (and conversely, upstairs room may become unbearably hot, especially in summer.)
In addition, the length of the ducts required to get air from the central unit to the farthest room means air may have cooled (or substantially leaked) enough, that by the time it reaches the room it is no longer as effective at warming it.
If you’ve ruled out balancing and ductwork as culprits, it might be time to consider multi-zone heating. Multiple zones mean that each area has its own thermostat and temperature control. If one area or floor of your home is always significantly colder than another, multi-zone heating gives you the power to adjust the temperature where and when you need to.
This can be especially effective if you’ve added rooms (or even a whole level) to your house without changing your central heating system.
As an alternative, you can consider a mini-split, or ductless unit. These units are just what they sound like – standalone units mounted to a wall or ceiling, without ducts and separate from your central unit. They can be used for both heating and cooling, one or multiple rooms, and are a great alternative to ripping up walls and ceilings to install new ducts.
Your Furnace Is Old And Tired
The average lifespan of a furnace is 15-20 years, so if yours is getting on in years, it might be showing signs of its impending retirement. Older, ailing units no longer heat as efficiently or as evenly. You may notice more temperature fluctuations than usual, and previously problem-free rooms can suddenly become uncomfortably chilly.
If you haven’t been maintaining your unit regularly then you can subtract a few years from its life, so by age 10 it may already be showing signs of breaking down.
If you notice some rooms suddenly feel colder than others and it’s a problem you didn’t have before, your furnace is probably to blame.
Having a cold room or an entire cold floor is not entirely uncommon, but it’s not something you have to suffer. There are solutions, maybe even multiple solutions, depending on the cause and your needs.
If you’ve got a cold area in your home and want to be more comfortable, get in touch for a free estimate. We’ll make recommendations based on your home’s needs and help you come up with the best possible solution for you and your family.