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Why is my house cold even with the heat turned on?

Coming home to a cold house isn’t very fun — especially when you’re paying for it to be warm! If your home is giving you cold shoulders, it’s time to figure out the source of your problem and some solutions that won’t break the bank.

Cause #1: Your Heat Doesn’t Deliver

If you have your heat running and can count one of the following issues true, your house is cold because you have a problem with heat delivery.

  • Your vents or radiators aren’t giving off much heat.
  • Your rooms are unevenly heated.
  • Your home has oddly cold rooms.

While insulating your home 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.

Seal up your leaky ductwork

Hold up a smoke pencil (available on Amazon.com) 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.

Signs you need to replace your ductwork

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 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.

Conversely, if there are rooms you don’t use, don’t pay to heat them! Keep the vents closed and doors shut so that the space is excluded from your thermostat’s reading.

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.

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.

Furnace TLC

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.

What to expect with an HVAC inspection

Cause #2: Your Home Won’t Stay Warm (heat loss through poor insulation)

From freezing floors to warmth-sucking windows, there are many ways for heat to exit the home. 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 colder months.

Windows: clearly a source of heat loss

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.

Outside doors: the wind’s best friend

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.

Heat pump, furnace or boiler: which home heating option wins on warmth and efficiency

Chilly walls and high ceilings

A cold house with cold walls 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.

Your home heating experts

Schedule your annual furnace inspection with John C. Flood this year 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!