Home Maintenance For Dummies
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If some rooms in your home are too hot, some too cold, and some just right, you need to fine-tune your heating system for maximum efficiency. Balancing your central heating minimizes energy consumption and evens temperatures in every room. It’s about airflow, and dampers and registers help control the airflow in the ducts.

Here’s how to balance your central heating system:

  1. Start at the furnace unit and follow the main ducts outward, looking for small levers on the side; these are the handles for dampers.

    When the handle is horizontal, the damper is fully open, allowing maximum airflow. When the handle is anywhere between horizontal and vertical, the damper is reducing airflow.

  2. Place thermometers in the rooms in question, away from registers and cold-air returns, and all at about the same height from the floor.

  3. Turn on the heat and open all the dampers, wait about an hour, and then check the thermometers.

    Is one room warmer than others? Is hot air roaring out of the register?

  4. Partially close the damper in the duct that feeds that room by moving the handle one-third of the way between horizontal and vertical; wait an hour and recheck the room.

  5. If the room seems cooler, you’re done. If it doesn’t, close the damper another third, wait another hour, and check the room again.

    You also can fine-tune airflow by adjusting the register.

  6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 for each room until you have the temperature balanced.

    By the way, balanced may mean that the main living areas and bathrooms are warmer than the bedrooms, or vice versa. It all depends on what you prefer . . . or how cold your spouse claims to be.

  7. After you’ve achieved balance, go back to the ducts and use a permanent marker to write a W (for winter) where the damper handle should be positioned for the heating season.

Repeat the process for the cooling season, except write an S (for summer) where the damper handle should be positioned.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

James Carey and Morris Carey Jr. share their 55+ years of experience as award-winning, licensed contractors with millions of people nationwide through a weekly radio program and syndicated newspaper column, both titled On The House. They also appear regularly on CBS News Saturday Morning.

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