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What to Expect from Your HVAC When it’s Freezing Outside

Posted by Empire Blog at 4:48 pm on January 24, 2018

If it’s 20 degrees outside, you shouldn’t expect your HVAC to get your house to a balmy 82. Silver 80 Gas Furnace

Most people assume that their heating system can pretty much reach any temperature they desire. And for the most part, that’s correct! But when temperatures dip to unusually chilly lows, you shouldn’t expect more than “comfortable” out of your HVAC.

The type of heating system your house has will affect its ability to reach the internal temperature you desire. Heat pumps operate by pumping hot air from outside inside your home. If it’s really, really cold outside, most heat pumps can only do so much! Most heat pumps have an auxiliary coil that kicks in if temperatures get really low, so you can expect to stay warm during winter, but not hot. These coils use an external thermostat to monitor the outside air, kicking on when temps get low, then back off once you’re back over the predetermined “safe” temperature indoors.

Gas heaters operate differently. If you have a boiler or a central furnace, gas actually heats up water within your system which then turns into steam; that steam is converted into heat and your house gets nice and toasty. Gas heating systems can reach higher internal temperatures when it’s very cold outside, but remember this:

NO heating system can keep your house “hot” in the winter. There’s too much air leakage from windows, doors, and your walls to fully insulate the indoor air from the outside.

So, should you panic if it’s dipping below freezing and you can’t get your heat as high as you want? Probably not. Falling a few degrees short of your desired internal temperature is normal when it’s super cold. If the temperature you’re able to achieve and the temperature you can reach are really far apart, you may need to call a trusted HVAC technician to have a look. Things like dirty filters, low refrigerant, or blocked ducts can have a big impact on how well your system is working.

Ready to schedule your appointment? Reach out to Empire Heating and Air Conditioning to have your heating system serviced right away.