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February 3, 2011
Do you ever feel cold drafts or dramatic swings in temperature when your equipment isn’t running? Have you ever awoke sweating so much that you needed to sleep the rest of the night on the couch just to say cool? Do find it difficult to keep one area of your house comfortable while the rest of the house can be a difference of several degrees or more in temperature?
Many homes have them and they can be difficult, and altogether frustrating. If you experience hot and cold spots inside your home, it doesn’t have to be that way.
How does it happen?
Hot and cold spots, or temperature inconstancies between one part of your house and another are relatively common. Unfortunately, most people think they have to live this way. The reality is however, once you identify the leading cause of the problem, more often than not there is a relatively simple solution. There are a few common problems that could be causing your home to be difficult to keep comfortable.
Your air conditioner or furnace is not the right size for your home.
When it comes to your home’s HVAC, bigger isn’t always better. If your heating or cooling unit is too big or too small, it makes controlling your comfort very difficult and very expensive. An incorrectly sized unit will mean the temperatures in your house will not be consistent. Some areas will get too much, some not enough, indoor humidity levels become difficult to control and the overall comfort level of your home is compromised.
This situation often becomes a problem after an addition is placed on the home. If you think the sizing of your heating or cooling unit might be to blame, consult with a professional to help you determine the appropriate size for the square footage of your home.
Your air ducts are leaking.
Leaky ductwork can be a real problem. First, they make balancing the temperature throughout your house nearly impossible. Compare your ductwork to a drinking straw. When you go to use a straw that is cracked or broken, getting the drink to come all the way through the straw can be really difficult. Just like that straw, when your air ducts are leaking, the heated or cooled air is not making its way through the entire system and instead, is being lost through cracks and leaks along the way. Not only can leaky ducts make the comfort level in your home more difficult to control, they can reduce your heating and cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%. This means the unit will have to work harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Leaky ducts can also contribute to other problems like poor air quality and fluctuating humidity levels throughout your house.
If you have an older home, this cause may be quite plausible. Consider having your ducts professionally inspected and sealed.
Your ductwork is poorly insulated.
Ductwork is typically made from thin sheet metal. When you combine this with its location within the home, which is commonly in exposed in spaces like attics, basements, and crawl spaces; regulating your indoor temperature can be difficult. According to the US Department of Energy, if left uninsulated, ducts can lose 10% - 30% of the energy used to heat and cool your home. Properly insulated ducts offer minimal loses in heated or cooled air and less condensation which can make delivering even temperatures to every room in your home much easier to do.
If you’re not sure about the current state of your duct insulation, or if you think this could be the problem, an infrared duct inspection or consultation from a professional could give you the answers you need.
Your existing duct system is improperly sized or designed.
The tools, technology, training, certifications and methodology that exist today for sizing, designing, installing and testing duct systems did not exist when many older homes were built. Additionally, we find that these existing homes have thermal envelope issues. Couple that with the reality that most older duct systems are not properly sized, designed or installed to work efficiently and effectively with today’s energy efficient, high performance equipment and safety and performance controls, and you have a recipe for problems. As a result homeowners invest in new equipment to improve their indoor air quality, comfort and energy costs only to discover the problems they experience remain even after new equipment is installed. Most of these issues are attributed to the duct system and thermal envelope. Replacing equipment alone will not fix things. In fact, it could make matters worse by shortening the life of the new equipment since it is not as tolerable of inadequate airflow and poor duct design. For homes to be properly heated and cooled, they need to be measured and fitted with the right sized equipment, ducts and amount of airflow. The thermal envelope in a house should also be addressed by adding insulation as needed. This addition will insulate deficient areas and seal air leakage to minimize infiltration of unregulated, unconditioned and unfiltered air. A qualified HVAC technician, like Pippin Brothers, will test your existing duct system before and after equipment installation to guarantee you’re not gambling with your comfort and energy dollars.
Your Home isn’t zoned properly, or not at all.
It could just be the temperature imbalance you’re noticing doesn’t really have anything to do with and ineffective HVAC system. Rather your home requires a customized zoning system to keep you comfortable. Zoning allows you to independently control the comfort level of different “zones” inside your house. For example, if you live in a two-story home and you spend much if not all of your day downstairs, a zoning system might be right for you. The downstairs can maintain a manageable temperature while the upstairs can be cooler for sleeping and you don’t have to adjust your thermostat to manipulate the comfort level you’re trying to achieve for any particular space. The plumbing and electrical system within a home is already zoned. When you flip a switch, or turn on a faucet or appliance, only the lights, faucets or appliances associated with that switch come on. Unlike the plumbing and electrical, an “un-zoned” house heats or cools the entire house whether you are occupying all areas simultaneously or not. What’s more, your HVAC system consumes more energy than all electrical and plumbing fixtures combined. With zoning, not only is your home more comfortable with temperatures balanced based on your individualized preferences, but the energy savings can be big.
Take control of your comfort.
If you’re experiencing hot and cold spots throughout your home, you can do something about it. Sometimes discovering the root of the problem is half the battle. At Pippin Brothers, our diagnostics and solutions are designed with your comfort and budget in mind. An airflow and whole house evaluation can help pinpoint and address causes of the following:
Rooms that get too hot or cold
Uneven temperatures throughout the house
High utility bills and poor energy efficiency
Thermostat wars with your spouse or kids
High humidity in summer
House never seems comfortable
Lack of airflow
Noisy equipment or airflow
Poor air quality
Dust buildup within a few days of dusting
Problems with your comfort system since it was installed or you moved in
Aggravated allergy and asthmas symptoms
AC or heat starts and stops frequently or runs all the time, and house is not comfortable
Poor temperature control
Drafts, temperature swings, stuffiness, clamminess, mugginess, musty odors, etc.
Address problems other contractors told you cannot be fixed