Why Is My Heater Blowing Cold Air?

Jan 11, 2021

As the temperatures start dropping outdoors, the last thing you need from your heating system is cold air. Cold airflow could be the sign of an issue with your heater, or it might just be a part of your unit’s normal functioning. The heating repair experts of Newcomb and Company are here with a look at why your heater is blowing cold air.

Thermostat Readings and Colder Heating System

The first thing you should do when you suspect an issue with your heating system is to check your thermostat. The thermostat often offers critical clues into the issue you are experiencing.

Thermostat Settings

  • Is your thermostat set to a comfortable temperature with the “heat” settings turned on? Many homeowners overlook setting adjustments when they think there is a heater problem. Thankfully, this is the easiest heater problem to fix. Simply adjust your settings and see if it resolves your heating troubles.

Thermostat Blank Screen

Cold Temperature Readings and Heater Issues

  • If your thermostat confirms your worst fears by showing you a temperature reading way beneath your settings, this is often the sign of an issue with your heating system. You might need a maintenance visit, a heater repair, or a new heating system altogether. In these cases, it is often best to turn off your heater and call an expert (like those at Newcomb and Company). The potential heater problems and solutions will depend on whether you have a heat pump or a furnace. Here is how you can troubleshoot your heating system issues.

Now that your thermostat has provided a baseline understanding of your heating system status, let's take a closer look at why your heater is blowing cold air, despite the fact that your thermostat says your home is warm.

Heat Pumps and Colder Air

What if you go to your thermostat, but it says your home has reached a comfortable temperature. You know you feel cold air, but your thermostat is telling you that this air is warm. This is actually a quite common issue, especially if you have a heat pump.

Furnace systems are known for producing air that is between 140℉ and 170℉. This air cools down as it runs throughout your home, and it distributes in smaller quantities. When that furnace heat exits your vents, it feels very warm.

Electric heaters, on the other hand, only need to produce air ranging between 80℉-95℉ to keep your home warm. The average internal body temperature is between 97℉ and 99℉, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. So when that warm air leaves your vents, it naturally feels colder than your body temperature. If your heat pump produces a strong and steady airflow, it can feel even colder due to the wind-chill effect. This is all a normal part of electric heating, and it comes with the benefit of less dry air (as often a leading complaint with furnace heat) and improved environmental sustainability.

If you find that you feel uncomfortable in your heat pump home, here are some tips:

  • Sit away from the draft: The feeling of the air hitting your skin will create a wind-chill effect, making your heated air feel colder. Try avoiding vents and the direct line of airflow.
  • Consider getting a space heater: Space heaters will give you the benefits of a heat pump for your home while giving you more control over your personal climate.
  • Adjust the temperature: The true purpose of your heat pump is to make you and your home comfortable. If you tend to feel uncomfortable at the “standard” temperature of 68℉-72℉, consider kicking it up one or two degrees.

Heat Pump Defrost Mode

During cold, humid conditions, your heat pump can gather frost on the outdoor equipment. Frost can harm your unit while making your heat pump inefficient and ineffective, especially as it concerns your outdoor coil. To protect your unit, heat pumps naturally enter into a defrost cycle.

During a defrost cycle, your heat pump will momentarily reverse operations, pushing cold air inside your home and bringing warm air out to your unit. In these cases, your heater air will temporarily feel very cold. If the cool airflow lasts only a moment, you are likely just experiencing a defrost cycle. This might also visually look like smoke coming off of your unit, but rest assured that this is frozen condensation.

Thermostat Calibration and Cold Heater Airflow

So your thermostat says that your home temperature is a comfortable 72℉, but you know that you feel cold. Your thermostat could be misreading your home’s temperature.

Over time, your thermostat can gradually begin to misread the temperature of your home. In these cases, your thermostat cannot correctly communicate your home’s temperature with your heating system and adjust it accordingly. This can be easily fixated with thermostat calibration. Your thermostat should be calibrated at least once every year, though it is best to have it calibrated twice each year (once for your heater and once for your air conditioner). An expert will calibrate your thermostat during your annual maintenance visit to prevent this issue.

Newcomb and Company Heating Repair

When your heater is due for its next repair or maintenance visit, Newcomb and Company is here for you. We also offer industry-leading heater replacements when your unit has reached the end of its lifespan. Our local professionals proudly serve homes and businesses in Ralegh, Wilmington, and surrounding areas such as Cary, Clayton, Knightdale, Wake Forest, Castle Hayne, Leland, and beyond. Contact the professionals at Newcomb and Company for your heater service today!

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