House Climate
November 17, 2004 4:25 PM   Subscribe

HouseClimateFilter: My (single zone for a small house) thermostat says the house should be warm but it's not, any ideas? [mi, oc]

The thermostat is located almost exactly in the spatial center of the house, in a hallway that connects the two bedrooms, living room and kitchen. The thing is only three or four years old, programmable and digital. But the furnace and return are almost directly across the 36" or so wide hallway and this might be the problem. Other than spending serious money on an electrician, is there an answer for my chills?
posted by billsaysthis to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If setting it to a certain temp isn't making the house as warm as you want, just set it higher. The center of the house is furthest from areas where cold can get in (walls and windows especially).
posted by borkencode at 5:14 PM on November 17, 2004

Response by poster: borkencode, that is what i've been doing but it isn't working well as the area with thermastat reaches the new temp and shuts off the furnace.
posted by billsaysthis at 5:43 PM on November 17, 2004

If it's a forced air system (central air), you could adjust the dampers.
posted by sleslie at 6:31 PM on November 17, 2004

Your thermostat's in the wrong place (but you knew that).

Quick & dirty fix - what's directly on the other side of the wall where the thermostat is mounted? If it's a good place for the thermostat (say, your living room) just take the thermostat off the wall revealing a hole with a wire coming out. Take something long and sharp (say, a kebab skewer) and poke a hole through the wall on the other side. Undo the wires, push the wire through the new hole, walk around the other side, redo the wires (you did keep track of which wires went where, didn't you?) and fasten the thermostat to the wall using whatever was used to mount it before.

Patching the hole is left as an excercise for the student.

If the other side of the wall is not a good place, an electrician (or handyperson) is the way to go unless you feel confident about being able to get a wire from the furnace to the new thermostat location.
posted by skyscraper at 6:39 PM on November 17, 2004

Here's a picture of what you're looking for, though I could only find electronic dampers. In private households, it is more common to find manual dampers, and they'll look like a lever attached to the ductwork.
posted by sleslie at 6:41 PM on November 17, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips! I think I'll either have to call in an electrician or live with it, oh well.
posted by billsaysthis at 7:06 PM on November 17, 2004

There are also magnetic covers you can put on nearby vents, and battery powered fans for further vents that only kick on once the furnance starts. Use of both could help draw heat into the rest of the house and let it move back in towards the center.
posted by borkencode at 7:21 PM on November 17, 2004

While you may very well just have the thermostat in a bad location, it sounds to me like the house needs more insulation, or better storm windows. An interior hallway should not be substantially warmer than the rooms to which it connects. Are your exterior walls cold to the touch? That could be a sign of too little insulation. If you blow out a match and move it near your windows can you detect a draft with the smoke?

Do you have a duct into the hallway? I can not imagine why you would, but if there is one you obviously do not need it and it should be closed somehow. Manual dampers usually do not make a good seal thus letting air through and making noise. Magnetic covers may work for you but if you have a strong fan they will tend to come loose. The best solution to closing a damper may be to remove the diffuser, place several layers of foil over the opening and then replace the diffuser. The diffuser usually has a gasket that seals against the wall; make sure the foil extends out to where the gasket contacts.
posted by caddis at 7:03 AM on November 18, 2004

Response by poster: There are no ducts in the hallway, they all point out into rooms, the exterior walls are not noticably colder than the interiors, and the match smoke went reasonably straight up. Your thoughtful answer is appreciated even though ;)
posted by billsaysthis at 5:57 PM on November 18, 2004

The thermostat could be bad...have you measured the temperature at the thermostat to see if it matches the reading?
posted by jacobsee at 12:17 PM on November 19, 2004

Response by poster: jacobsee, yes I have.
posted by billsaysthis at 6:21 PM on November 19, 2004

well i'm interested to hear how this turns out...let us know if you discover anything that works! i'm not really sure what to do but at this point I would guess to try to damper down the heat registers closer to the furnace to allow more heat to get out to the outer rooms.
posted by jacobsee at 9:59 AM on November 24, 2004

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