7 reasons that make home temperatures uneven

Majority of homeowners think that a central HVAC system can maintain constant and even home temperatures throughout your home. This is one of the most common misconceptions. There plenty of articles that advise homeowners what to do in order to make the entire home feel more comfortable. All of these articles say the same: “If you having temperature fluctuations from one room to the other, or between two or more levels of your house – call a reputable heating and cooling company, they will give suggestions on how to best deal with such situation”. Meanwhile none of them give much explanation, and basically just lure a homeowner into calling a contractor.

We want to explain how these temperature fluctuations happen in first place, what is the nature and mechanics. Read through, add comments in section below. We can help you fix your comfort issues without getting a contractor involved. Here are 7 reasons that make home temperatures uneven:

1. Warm air rises to higher levels using ductwork

Stack effect is one of reasons for uneven home temperatures
Stack effect is one of reasons for uneven home temperatures

In technical and scientific world this is called convection. We are not going to explain the third-grade physics topic, you should study convection on your own. Instead let’s talk how the convection (“warm air rises” effect) affects your home comfort. The central heating and cooling system uses ductwork to distribute air into living space. When the central blower pushes air into the duct, it created certain pressure which keeps pushing the conditioned air into rooms. When the central fan turned off, the air in ductwork stops flowing that direction as there is no pressure. Now the air is on its own, and the stack effect takes control. In winter, warmer air accumulates in top portion of the room, near the ceiling. This warm air reverses its direction, and enters the ductwork through the discharge grille, and travels to the rooms on higher levels. In other words, lower rooms will “pass” their warm air to rooms, thus creating temperature difference between floors. Ever noticed that the family room on lower level freezing, while bedrooms on third floor baking hot? This explains. To stop the stack effect, you need to cover all grilles in the house when the central blower stops, and uncover them when it starts. It is impossible task! Another way – keep the fan on at all times, it will keep blowing air in all rooms, and in turn will help evening out home temperatures. This is not the best solution as it wastes energy, and adds unnecessary strain on central HVAC system. Another option is to get a multi-zone ductless mini split system.

2. Clogged, squished and leaking ductwork

Clogged and dirty ducts is another reason for uneven home temperatures
Clogged and dirty ducts is another reason for uneven home temperatures

Clogged, squished and leaking ductwork will reduce necessary amount of air reaching rooms as it should. Ducts could be damaged during construction or remodeling, it could be clogged with rugs, paper towels, dirty filters, and just plain dust accumulation (and it is disgusting! Just imagine a dirty duct inside, this is what in the air you breathe). A homeowner needs to get the ductwork inspected and cleaned. It is a dirty and expensive job, but it has to be done. If the duct leaks air, it can be sealed with tape or special mastic. Well, this is only if the duct exposed, like in the basement or attic. What would you do if the leak concealed in walls? In such situation the best course of action is to open walls and seal the duct… or abandon the ductwork completely, and get a ductless mini split system.


3. Sunshine adds uneven heat load

This is a big one. When the sun is blasting on one side of the house (adding huge heat load), while a cold wind is chilling the opposite side of the house, you get exactly as it sounds – blasting hot rooms on one side of the house, while you better add an electric heater to those room on the opposite side. In time, the sun revolves around the house, and the wind changes direction. The only way to help this situation is to keep closing and opening curtains and blinds, and seal windows and doors on the “windy” side. No-one has time for this. What is a solution? A multi-zone ductless mini split system. It adjusts the output “power” as needed adopting to fluctuating conditions.

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