heating tips

Why Doesn't My Upper Floor
Get As Much Heat?

One troubling problem with home heating is that some rooms don't ever seem to get enough heat. There may be simply a problem with the ventilation system in your furnace, which makes it difficult for it to blow enough heated air or a larger system installation issue requiring extra attention. The easiest place to begin is with basic poor ventilation problems.

Is it the air filter?

Air filters trap dust, hair, and other air particulates. Over time, the dust-clogged filters can block air flow. As a rule, most residential air filters should be changed every three months.

Is it the evaporator coil?

Most furnace systems include an evaporator coil for air conditioning. The coil should be kept clean and free of dirt and debris that might reduce air flow. For heat pump or geothermal systems, dust or dirt covering the coil can reduce heat transfer to the air and increase your electricity usage.

Cleaning the coil can be tricky and time consuming. Some coils can be accessed by unscrewing a few panels, others by dismantling the whole furnace enclosure. Always turn off the system at the power switch or circuit breakers at the fuse box before looking inside. Clean the coils with a very mild soap spray and soft brush. The coils are delicate and easily damaged so be extra careful. If the task looks too complicated or difficult, contact a licensed technician.

Is there enough return air flow?

If your system has a hard time blowing air, then is it sucking enough air out from the rooms? First, make sure that all the return air vents are not blocked by furniture, rugs, drapes or sleeping pets. Next, check the air flow by holding a piece of typing paper up to the return vent when the system is running and see if there is enough pull to hold the paper against the vent. In some homes, space between floor joists is covered over to make a return air duct. Known as ?panned duct work?, these sometimes run though un-insulated crawlspaces or even roof rafters. The unsealed holes for wiring, plumbing, and hundreds of other small gaps frequently leak air and pull in dirt - all of which worsen the system's efficiency, costing you money. These should be replaced with hard return ducts.

Is the duct work loose or leaky?

Even if your duct work is properly installed, vibration from the blower or from thermal expansion and contraction can loosen it. Inspect your ductwork for leaks and caps and repair them. Disjointed ducts should be fastened properly with sheet metal screws and either aluminum duct tape or duct mastic. Also remember to seal any holes you find. While one pencil-wide hole might not cause a problem, it's the 40 or 50 other holes that do.

Does your furnace use a belt drive blower?

Worn or loose belts will slip and fail to spin the blower. For a loose belt, turn off power to the furnace and then check to see if the blower fan housing (called a ?squirrel cage?) is loose. If it is, you might be able to adjust the fan housing to increase the belt tension and then tighten it into place. Stretched or worn belts must be replaced. If the blower is directly powered by a motor that turns slowly, smells hot, or is making noise, then the motor's bearings need to be properly lubricated. Unless you know how to this safely, it is a job for a professional technician.

Is the duct work sized properly?

If else nothing works, it could be a duct sizing problem. Duct work must match your blower's output to channel the right amount of air at the right pressure to each room. Correctly sized duct work should also take the shape and kind of duct work being used.. Duct length and turns also affect efficiency. If your home has sizing problems, then consult a professional technician for help.

Keeping your home energy efficient will keep your family comfortable and reduce your energy costs. That's why a yearly fall maintenance inspection by a licensed technician from Direct Energy can save you money and help solve heating problems before they become cold weather emergencies.