Is negative pressure the reason your house is so cold?

Published by Parisa Ostovari

Now that colder temperatures have settled into the Midwest, you might be noticing that even though your furnace is turned on, your house still feels cold. If you’re worried that your furnace isn’t running efficiently — don’t be. If you regularly change the furnace filter and have already had seasonal furnace maintenance performed, it is likely that the cause is unrelated to your system efficiency.

The comfort level in your home is determined by the indoor temperature and humidity level. But one thing that can prevent this from happening easily and efficiently is negative pressure.

Negative pressure occurs when there is less air in your home than outside. To try and balance out the pressure, your house will find places — like poorly sealed doors and windows — to pull in air to try to balance out the pressure. When this occurs in the winter, cold, dry air is pulled into your home.

How to fix negative air pressure in your house

The four main home conveniences that suck the air out of your house are exhaust fans, dryers, water heaters and noncombustion furnaces. Don’t fret. There are a few things you can do to help keep your home from experiencing negative pressure.

  • Replace worn weather-stripping around your windows and doors for a tighter seal. Taking the time to weatherize your home will help keep warm air in during the winter.

  • Install a 20-minute timer on your bathroom exhaust fans to keep them from running all day.

  • The clothes dryer removes a ton of air from your house. Consider not doing multiple loads of laundry back-to-back. You can also run your dryer at night while everyone is sleeping.

  • Do you have a sealed combustion furnace? If you don’t, your furnace is using inside air for combustion and sending it up through your vents. You can look into upgrading your furnace and water heater to high-efficiency models to combat negative pressure.

Taking steps to address negative pressure will help keep your home more comfortable and your HVAC system from working overtime this winter.