Coming home to a cold house isn’t very fun — especially during winter and when you’re paying for it to be warm! If your home is giving you cold shoulders, it’s time to figure out why the heat is on but the house is cold.
The reasons your house is cold even with the heat on could be because of poor insulation, your furnace doesn't work properly, rooms with high ceilings, or your heating system doesn't cover the whole house.
1. Your Heat Doesn’t Deliver
If you have your heat running and can count one of the following issues true, your house gets cold quickly because you have a problem with heat delivery.
- Vents or radiators aren’t giving off much heat.
- Rooms are cold even with heating on.
- Home has oddly cold rooms.
While insulating your home from the freezing temperatures outside helps keep the heat inside, the heat needs to be delivered first. Ranging from free to pricier home upgrades, we hope one of these solutions works for you so you can figure why your house is so cold even with the heating on.
Seal up your leaky ductwork
Hold up a smoke pencil to the seams in your open ductwork, usually accessible through your attic, garage or basement. If the pencil gives off any smoke, seal up the leak with foil-faced duct tape. Go over the rest of the ductwork and remove any cloth-backed tape and replace it with foil-backed duct tape.
To prevent heat escaping just by virtue of traveling through a cold house, wrap all your ductwork with R-6 foil-faced fiberglass insulation, trim to fit and cover the seam with foil-faced duct tape.
Open vents and rearrange furniture
Perform a cursory check of all the vents in your home and make sure they are fully open in the rooms you want heated. Vents need to be unobstructed to heat your home properly. Blocking or covering vents with large furniture like couches or beds lets the heat you pay for be absorbed into upholstery, leaving the room always cold.
The same goes for radiator heat; if you mess up the airflow, your heating system works harder and less effectively to heat your home. By keeping long curtains and furniture clear of your heat delivery, airflow is uninterrupted and can flow in and around your rooms.
An open door policy
While closing doors is fine for hiding clutter and getting some privacy, it's not great for airflow. Leave your doors open to allow cool air to flow out into a main area to influence the temperature reading for the house. This is important because most homes are not zoned and only have one thermostat to regular climate for the entire home. Sealed rooms can be a common reason that a room is cold even with the heating on.
Every house is (or should be) designed with ductwork that facilitates good airflow. It is designed around the size and layout of your rooms and their proximity to your heat source, among other things. There are many factors that go into designing your ductwork for good airflow (for a forced-air system), but when it is done correctly, you’ll never notice it.
2. Your Furnace Needs Inspection
For a healthy, smoothly operating furnace, the HVAC service industry and manufacturers recommend an annual furnace inspection by a licensed technician. While this does benefit HVAC repair companies, it isn’t made up. The warranties for modern furnaces often require an annual inspection and are more likely to break unexpectedly if you skip this maintenance check.
3. Poor Heat Insulation
From freezing floors to warmth-sucking windows, there are many ways for heat to exit the home that keeps your house from warming up. While newly constructed homes are often airtight, historical homes and houses with aging materials often need more attentive care to make the most of their insulation during the colder months of winter.
Heat loss through windows
While triple pane windows are probably on every homeowner’s wish list, upgrading to super insulated windows is a costly investment. Before you pull the trigger there, try these budget-friendly tricks to reduce heat loss from your windows.
- Check for gaps or leaks along the edges of your windows and fill them in with caulk.
- Upgrade your drapes to something heavier. Thicker materials will trap colder air between the fabric and the window, but even a set of blinds will provide mild insulation when drawn.
- Install a cling window film on your chilliest windows. A good knife and a hair dryer will render this measure nearly invisible. You won’t be able to open and close the window with this installed.
If you notice a draft when the outside doors are firmly shut, it’s time to replace the weather stripping. This is an easy and inexpensive project that can have a huge impact. If your draft is from under the door, you’ll need to install a brush to keep out cold air. Brushes sized for mail slots are also available.
4. Chilly Walls and High Ceilings
A freezing house that is not warming up definitely isn’t fun to lounge in. Cold walls are due to an insulation problem, and are often solved by doing some work in your attic. Heat travels through drywall, and if the top of your wall opens into your attic, your heat goes straight up, never to return. Fitting a board to cover this gap and sealing it with foam is usually all you need.
Particularly if you have a vaulted ceiling, you are bound to lose a lot of heat from your lower level by the scientific fact that heat rises. The beauty of this problem is that the heat is not lost, it’s merely traveled. If you have a ceiling fan in this area, set it to fan air down and enjoy a warmer lower level from this unexpected solution.
5. Heating System Doesn't Cover the Whole Home
If your heat is on but the house is cold, your heating system could be mismatched with the size of your home. This is especially true in two-story homes that don't have zoned heating. With zoned heating, your home is divided into at least two "zones". This is typically an upstairs and downstairs zone for a two-story home. You can then control the individual temperature of each zone within your home.
How do you know if you have the right sized system? There are multiple factors to consider. The climate of where you live is a factor, as well as your home's square footage. Those two factors can help you calculate a British Thermal Unit (BTU) necessary to heat your home. Other factors to consider are high ceilings, how many stories your home has, your home's insulation, how energy efficient your windows are and how many of them exist.
6. Clogged Air Filters
Clogged air filters not only contribute to poor air quality in your home, but they are a serious strain on your HVAC system — decreasing its output and increasing your energy bill. Clogged air filters could result in a house that's cold even with heating on. Your system is working harder to heat your home, and if you combine this with some of the other common issues, the heat isn't making it to your desired rooms.
Routinely changing your HVAC air filters is arguably one of the most essential maintenance tasks homeowners need to pay attention to. Poor air quality and reduced efficiency are likely the issues you'll notice. But over time, clogged air filters can also cause irreversible damage to your HVAC system. Lint, fibers, mold and mold spores, pollen, dirt and dust are some of the items that are trapped by the air filter. If those particles and contaminants are built up, heat won't get through as effectively.
Schedule Heating Service With John C. Flood
Schedule your heating service with John C. Flood and experience our top-notch service and professionalism. We handle all sorts of home heating, cooling and plumbing issues and would love to turn your cold house into a warm home for the coming winter. Schedule service today!