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Dear Jim: We have a problem keeping everyone comfortable. Some rooms are always too warm (especially on the second floor) and others too cool. What can we do to get more cooled or heated air to the problem rooms? - Patti W.
A: I had the same problem in my own two-story home, but uneven room temperatures are also common in one-story homes. Differences in duct lengths, number of windows, orientation to the afternoon sun, etc. can affect individual room temperatures.
Not only is it uncomfortable, but uneven room temperatures can increase your utility bills. You invariably set the thermostat too low or too high so the problem rooms are comfortable. For each degree you lower your air conditioner thermostat during the summer, your utility bills can increase by two to five percent.
The method I used to solve the problem in my home was a combination of adjusting the duct dampers and installing duct and register boosters where needed. Using an expensive automatic duct zoning system is the ideal solution, but it typically costs thousands of dollars to install one.
There should be adjustable damper plates in the ducts leading to each room. During the summer, make sure the dampers are fully open to the problem rooms that are too warm and close the dampers slightly to the rooms that are cool enough. This will force more cooled air to the problems rooms.
Don't close any of the dampers more than half way, this may cause too much overall air flow resistance for the blower. If the air flow is greatly reduced, the air conditioner coils will not operate efficiently. During the winter, you will probably have to readjust all the dampers.
Most likely you will also need some booster fans. Ones that snap over a wall or floor register draw more cooled or heated air into the problem rooms without reducing efficiency. These quiet register booster fans are attractive and have built-in adjustable controls for summer or winter operation.
Another option is in-line duct booster fans. These fans mount in the ducts that lead to the various rooms to increase the air flow. They are available in many diameters for simple installation in any duct.
If there is problem with temperature variations in adjacent rooms, try installing a room-to-room door fan. These small, quiet fans mount in the upper corner of a door opening to circulate air from one room to another.
Installing adjustable floor registers is an alternative to adjusting duct dampers to control the air flow. The natural wood or ornamental cast iron ones are also very attractive. Others have built-in air filters for better air quality.
Instant Download Update Bulletin No. 486 - buyer's guide of 14 automatic register and duct booster fan, filter and decorator register manufacturers listing design types, dimensions of the units, fan air flow ratings, electricity usage, features describing automatic and special controls, decorative finishes (registers only), illustrations of many units, and prices.
Dear Jim: How can I tell if I should install a rapid hot water delivery kit for my bathroom? It currently takes about 15 seconds for the hot water to reach the faucet and I hate standing there waiting for it? - Cindy I.
A: A 15-second delay does not sound like a lot for a typical bathroom. Installing a rapid hot water kit would probably cut the time delay to get hot water to 5 to 10 seconds.
In addition to just convenience, there are other conservation reasons for installing a kit. It reduces the amount of water wasted down the drain while waiting for the hot water and water heating costs.