How to Get a Drafty Room to Stay Warm
LESLIE: George in Virginia is having a sort of cold moment in the TV room. What’s going on? It’s freezing in there?
GEORGE: Well, when we run the heat it is. My TV room is 14 or 15 – it’s two steps below the level of the rest of the house. During the heating season, there’s always a cold draft that comes down the steps and the floor down there is always cold and I’d like to try and find a remedy for that. Can you help me, please?
TOM: What kind of heating system do you have?
GEORGE: Right now, we’re using oil; furnace, forced air.
TOM: (overlapping voices) But is it forced air or – it’s forced air. OK.
TOM: And so this entire house is on a forced air system. You have central returns or do you have room returns? That means …
GEORGE: Oh, we have two small returns.
TOM: Two small returns.
GEORGE: Yes …
TOM: I think that’s the problem. I don’t think you have enough return air going back. You know, supplying warm air to a room is not a one-way street. You don’t just supply it and not take it back. But I suspect that you don’t have enough cubic feet of warmed, conditioned air getting into that lower level to satisfy the drafts that you’re getting because, basically, as the air cools, it’s going to fall down to the lowest level and unless you’re resupplying a lot of heat down there, it’s not going to work.
So, I would do two things. First of all, I’d have an HVAC contractor come in and see if it’s possible to get more duct work or better air flow to that space. And if that’s too complicated, the other thing that I might suggest in this situation – and this situation only – is to add an electric resistance heater, so baseboard electric, to this room. And have that set so that you can just turn it on when you absolutely need it on those cold, cold winter nights and that will provide you enough supplemental heat to deal with the comfort issue. Because what you’re going to find, George, is even though the electric is expensive to run, you’re probably overheating the rest of the house because it’s so darn cold in the living room.
GEORGE: Uh-huh. OK. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, George. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.