Q: Our furnace and air conditioner work fine, but some rooms are always too hot or too cold. They change when heating or cooling. What can we do to get more constant temperatures in all the rooms?
A: It can be difficult to keep all the rooms comfortable summer and winter, even with a properly designed and installed heating/cooling system. Your system can be retrofitted with automatic zone control with many thermostats throughout the house, but this option is expensive.
As you noticed, the specific problem rooms vary throughout the year, depending on whether they are being heated or cooled. The location of the room and the orientation of its windows and walls to the sun are major factors. Also, whether it is on the first or second floor affects this.
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Check the condition of the caulking and weatherstripping on the windows. Leaky windows can get the room temperatures out of balance. During summer, install magnetic deflectors over the registers to better distribute the cool air. Clean off the return air registers for lower air-flow resistance.
If you have blown-in attic insulation, either cellulose or fiberglass, check its level in the attic. Windy storms over the years may have piled it up over some rooms with little over others. Use a leaf rake to level it.
Another cause of uneven room temperatures is leaky ductwork. There are many joints in typical sheet metal ductwork. If not assembled and sealed properly, much of the heated or cooled air leaks out before ever getting to the room. Seal all the joints you can reach with black Gorilla duct tape.
In many older houses, there may be only a few return registers for the entire house. In the two-story home where I was raised, there were none on the second floor. We added one through a seldom-used laundry chute.
Another option is to run some down from the second-floor through the corner of a first-floor closet. The same concept can be used, but in reverse, if the heating and cooling system and ductwork are in the attic space.
Look for damper handles in the ducts near the furnace. Partially closing the damper in ducts leading to some rooms forces more heated or cooled air out the problem rooms. Mark the position of the handles, because they will probably have to be changed from the cooling to the heating season.
Closing the dampers in the floor registers is not nearly as effective. This increases the air flow resistance inside the entire length of the ducts, causing more leakage at the joints.
A final option is to install air flow booster fans in the ducts to the problem rooms. These are designed to fit any size duct, and they are easy to install. Booster fans are also available that mount over the room register. Some have built-in thermostats, and others sense when the blower starts.
The following companies offer booster fans:
▪ Aero-Flo Industries, 219-393-3555, Aero-flo.com.
▪ Field Controls, 252-522-3031, Fieldcontrols.com.
▪ Suncourt Mfg., 1-800-999-3267, Suncourt.com.
The following companies offer register deflectors:
▪ Ameriflow, 1-800-252-8467, Ameriflowregisters.com.
▪ Deflecto Corp., 1-800-428-4328, Deflecto.com.
Q: The wooden trim on the side of our house is exposed to the sun and does not hold up. How can I fix it to make it last longer?
A: I would guess that the sun alone is not causing the problem with the trim. Moisture is probably getting into the wood. This, plus the temperature changes from the hot sun to the cold nights, causes problems.
You can extend the life of the trim by painting the end-grain saw cuts as you install the trim. These open-grain splices are often not sealed as the trim is being fit together. Use a paint pad to saturate those ends.
Send inquiries to James Dulley, Lexington Herald-Leader, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244 or go to Dulley.com.