Has Your Central Heating Gone Crazy? There's a Cure!

Updated October 8, 2019

It only takes one ill-fated vent adjustment to screw things up.

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For many, cooler temperatures mean it's time turn up the heat and snuggle up under a blanket in your living room with a page-turner. But have you ever moved away from your perfectly adjusted room and found yourself in a Vietnam-like tropical jungle? Or maybe your living room is nice and toasty but your bedroom feels like Finland?

This uncomfortable problem happens when your central heating system's balance gets knocked out of whack. It only takes one ill-fated vent adjustment to screw things up, so this is relatively common.

The good news is that it's also easy to fix. Here's how:

Check For Drafts 

In some cases, a room might be too cold because heat is leaking out, rather than not having enough put in. Check the windows and exterior doors in colder rooms for drafts. If you notice any leaks, you can fix the problem by making your own DIY draft dodgers!

Clear the Area Around Your Cold Air Returns

These vents do not have any flow controls on them – they only draw cold air out of rooms rather than adding heat. If they're clogged or blocked, the circular heating system in your house will be disrupted.

Open Your Heat Registers

Your heat register vents will have flow controls on them (generally a small lever). Open them fully in every room of the house. Set your thermostat to your target temperature and wait about an hour.

Adjust the Vent in the Hottest Room

Go to the hottest room in your house (even if you're trying to fix a cold room) and reduce the vent-flow by half. Wait about an hour, and see if that brings the room's temperature down to the target level. If it doesn't, reduce the flow by half again. Repeat as many times as necessary. Tip: If you want to be exact, use a room thermometer to get a more accurate reading.

Move to the Next Hottest Room

Adjust the vents in the next 1-2 hottest rooms in the house. If you had a problem with a cold room, check that room's temperature again. Lowering the heat in the warmest rooms should free up some spare heat that will now be flowing into your cold room. Note: For rooms that are consistently colder due to their position in the house – such as a basement – balancing your heating system probably won't solve the problem. Instead, try putting a space heater in the room, or keep a lot of blankets handy!

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