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As a remodeler I am frequently asked about this problem and often get to troubleshoot the situation prior to calling in the big guns. Here are a few of the tips I have found to solve the problem. Turns out this situation is fairly common even in newer homes. In Boise Idaho we live on the edge of a desert and have some unique climatic conditions to consider. This describes a typical home with one zone. Larger homes with multiple system and controllers require a professional. I have a multi pronged approach to solving these problems in single system homes.
Look at the filters, they can cause reduced air flow and are often neglected. In my experience a 1″ filter should be changed out monthly if the fan is on, or every three months if not. A 4″ filter often lasts up to 6 mos. even with the fan blower on all the time.
Next, there are numerous problems that can be caused by clogged coils in an Air Conditioning unit especially if a humidifier is incorporated in your system. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion from a HVAC contractor. Consider a duct cleaning too, there are several truck mounted duct cleaning companies that do a fine job in our area.
Next you must realize that heat and cold have currents and that layering out occurs when air is stagnant. Rooms need a supply and a return to allow the currents to flow. A closed room with a supply only will never get the required flow and therefore be isolated from the home. Sometimes these situations can be solved with a vent through the wall up high in the room to a common area that has a return “like a hall.” If there is a supply and a return in the room, we occasionally discover that just because you see a grill does not mean the duct is connected properly. Occasionally an additional supply is needed but only after the return air problem is proven to be working. I have also seen homes that have had multiple remodels and additions or switching from radiant to forced air that have not had the job done all the way.
On a whole house scale “The basement is cold and the upstairs is hot” problem comes up often. This one is often approached in a similar way, remembering that adding insulation and improving the R-value of windows are the two major offenders that can be addressed separately.
Turning the fan to the ON position on your thermostat often corrects the layering effect by continuously moving the air and will even out the rooms. Sometimes none of this works and you will need to contact a professional that is familiar with balancing your home.
The corollary to the “I have a cold room in the summer” is often caused by the same problems in reverse called “Stack Effect” This is a link to the best article I have seen on the subject. We will talk about whole house fans in a follow up article.
The code for remodeling homes has changed for the better. A “Manual J” must be completed for remodeling projects when ever new furnaces are installed just like in new homes since 2012. This means that not only does there need to be a plan but there must be confirmation that the plan worked. This means testing and verification. I now have access to a certified testing company. Balancing the homes HVAC system is one of the services we recommend strongly.
Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about remodeling, click here to email me directly, or call 208-947-7261
If you or someone you know is considering remodeling or just wants to speak to a trustworthy remodeling contractor please contact me, you’ll be glad you did.