5 Ways to Fix Home Hot Spots
When it’s hot outside and all you want to do is enjoy a nice, cool living space, the occurrence of hot spots can be a real frustration. As the name suggests, a hot spot is an area in the home that, for some reason, just doesn’t seem to cool off like the rest of the home when the AC is running. To alleviate these problem spots, consider the following five possible causes as well as their accompanying fixes.
1. Check for Duct Issues
Problems with ductwork are a primary cause of many hot spot issues homeowners face. There are many possibilities when ductwork is to blame, but some of the most common issues that can cause hot spots include internal or external blockages, duct damage, filter issues or even faulty install work and/or system design. Some of these problems can be solved with relative ease, while some other issues such as poor design or install work can become more involved and expensive to fix.
As a homeowner, you can do a few things to check that your ducts are working well and not contributing to hot spot issues. One step is to check for airflow at your vents. You can do this with your hand or with a piece of tissue paper. Closed or otherwise blocked vents can easily cause hot spots.
Likewise, a check of your system’s filter should always reveal a clean filter. Otherwise, a dirty filter can significantly decrease airflow throughout the home and even cause stress and damage to the system. If you’re not getting good airflow through some vents but can’t tell exactly why, a look by a professional is the next best step.
2. Install a Zoned Thermostat
Next, many homeowners find a simplified solution to their home hot spots by installing a zoned thermostat. As opposed to a traditional thermostat, a zoned thermostat offers independent climate control to different zones throughout your home. These zones can consist of individual rooms, groups of rooms, hallways or even large areas like entire floors.
Some alterations may be necessary to your current system in order to accommodate the desired zoning layout. Once done, however, this can be a great fix-all and upgrade to the home’s current heating and cooling system. Some homeowners can manage basic thermostat replacements on their own, but when switching from a non-zoned setup to one that utilizes zoning, a professional is highly recommended.
3. Check for Insulation Problems
Sometimes, hot spots can be the direct result of insulation issues somewhere in your walls. These types of hot spots are in an area where you can feel heat radiating out of one section of a wall or ceiling unlike what you would feel near other walls in your home. Despite lots of airflow, adequate vents and all other measures being taken to assure a cool space, you just can’t alleviate the heat radiating in this area.
In cases like this, the best option is to address the insulation problem head-on. This will require opening the wall or ceiling in the area that all of the heat is felt radiating through. Next, you can fill it with adequate insulation. The type of insulation that is best for this job will be dependent on the space size and shape that is needing to be filled, but in all cases, a product with a high “R” value, or insulating value, is what you’ll want.
Once the problem area has been adequately filled with insulation, it can be re-covered with drywall or whatever walling material is desired. The installation of an additional layer of heat-blocking material is another option that can be placed before the final wall material is installed. There are specific products on the market for this, but sheet metal and some plastics can also do the job well.
4. Consider a Ductless Air Conditioner
Perhaps you’ve considered all the other possibilities, and you just need additional cold airflow in your hot spot area. Maybe your central air system just cannot adequately cool that branch of your home, or maybe it can be fixed to do so, but the price would be astronomical. In situations like this, many homeowners turn to a ductless air conditioner for the final remedy.
A ductless air conditioner is a self-contained air conditioner, much like a window AC unit, but it does not require a window for installation. These units are unique in that they can be installed in just about any location in walls and ceilings without the need for additional system equipment and space. In some cases of insulation-related hot spots as discussed above, homeowners have been known to install a ductless AC unit into those very spaces while having them opened for insulation work anyway.
5. Check Your Windows and Doors
Finally, windows and doors also account for a significant percentage of home hot spots as well as general heating and cooling loss. These fixtures are designed to be opened and closed and even seen through, but we also want them to be great at holding a tight seal and insulating us from the outdoor temperatures. Both can be accomplished.
Aside from factors of thickness and a tight fit, doors have a few parts that can become problem areas with leaking air. Check for airflow that sneaks in from the bottom, sides and top of the door. Doorknobs can also allow drafts. For issues with air leakage around the sides, top or bottom, you can use door sweeps, transition strip work and trim work to resolve the most common issues. Doorknobs can be better draft-proofed with caulk or with some added insulation inside the door where the lockset is housed.
Windows are much like doors in their common areas of air leakage, but they also utilize more glass, a poor insulator on its face. Having the best double-pane glass is the best bet here. Aside from that, however, being sure that there are no noticeable air leaks taking place around the four sides or panes is important. Simply using your hands or a lightweight piece of tissue paper is a great way to find leaks. In addition, just standing and observing these areas for a moment can often reveal area hot spots or cold spots if there are any.
Indoor pressure tests are one more way to test doors, windows and all other possible leakage points for a trustworthy seal. In these tests, the home’s inside air is slightly pressurized and then measured for the hold of that pressure. This test is one of the most conclusive ways to test the whole home for air leakage.
Custom Comfort Air is your number-one heating and air service provider for Houston, TX, and the surrounding areas. With over 50 years now in the HVAC business, we can back our claims with real experience. We can also install smart thermostats, provide indoor air quality tune-ups and provide furnace and HVAC system installation and service. Give us a call today, and experience the comfort and peace of mind you deserve.