How Can You Tell If You Have An Airflow Issue?

A: Well, normally the best sign is when you notice a big temperature differential from room to room. For example, the master bedroom of the home—at night is when you’re going to notice. You set your thermostat to where you’re normally comfortable and it feels warm.

But, you go to the next room, and it’s a lot cooler there. Well, then, you have an air distribution issue. Most systems will have manual dampers at the supply plenum in the attic, right after the evaporator coil where the ducts connect.

You can regulate those dampers to take a little bit of air out of an area that’s getting too much and send it to an area that needs more supply. It’s something that takes a bit of time, a little bit of fine-tuning using instruments to read CFM’s.

Depending on the size and the heat load of each space—size of windows, type of windows, square footage; you’ll need less or more air. So, a system that’s properly balanced for airflow is going to work more efficiently, potentially run fewer hours, and raise the comfort level of the home.

So, if you have everything balanced out—the whole house feels comfortable.

Do You Suspect HVAC Airflow Issues?

When it comes to Houston HVAC problems, trouble with airflow is one of the most common issues. If you think your system’s airflow might be off, you’ve likely seen these symptoms:

  • Hot/Cold Spots— Are some of your rooms significantly warmer or colder than other areas of the house? Usually, this is the first sign that you’re having airflow issues with your HVAC system.
  • Pressure Consistency— Are your doors closing by themselves? Perhaps you’re hearing odd whistling even when not windy outside? Airflow issues can cause imbalanced pressure in your home which produces these symptoms.
  • Weak Air— If you’re noticing the velocity of the air coming through your HVAC system’s vents is weak, this is another common sign. It might be happening all over the house, or just in one or two vents. Nevertheless, it’s a sure sign of HVAC airflow issues

If you let these issues drag on for long it can be detrimental. HVAC airflow issues put excess stress on your system and can cause the compressor to fail. The compressor is the core of your system. So, if it breaks down, the odds are you’ll need a brand-new system.

But, there’s good news—most HVAC airflow issues are fairly simple to correct and it’s usually an affordable repair.

What Causes These Problems?

So, what causes HVAC airflow issues? Well, it can be several things—but there’s a handful of causes that are the usual suspects.

OBSTRUCTED UNIT

This is a problem that is very easy to fix yourself. When we say the unit, we mean the condenser unit which is the equipment you see outside on a slab. These units can get a build-up of foliage, grass clippings, and debris around them. This blocks airflow to the system which helps cool it and prevent overheating.

Simply keep an eye on the area surrounding your unit, use a leaf blower to move leaves and debris away. You can also hose off the outside of the unit in case dirt has built up.

BLOCKED VENTS/REGISTERS

Closing a vent in a room that is too cold is not the proper way to adjust comfort levels. In fact, it is a common culprit of HVAC airflow issues.

It happens by accident as well, furniture gets moved around and ends up blocking a low position or floor vent. When that vent is blocked it compromises the airflow of the entire system, leading to other issues.

DIRTY FILTERS

We can’t stress this one enough as it is the number one reason people develop airflow issues. On that subject—when did you last check your filters? If it’s been more than six months—PAUSE, go check your filters and then come back to this.

Your filter is critical to the health of your system. It removes dust particles, pet dander, and debris that floats in the air. Keeping these contaminants out of your ducts and equipment is important as they can cause issues.

However, to work efficiently, the filters need to be fairly clean—they’re meant to be changed. If they get too gunked up, air can’t enter your system and that’s why you get stuffy air and uneven flow.

How often you should change your filter depends on the system you have and what the manufacturer suggests. However, other factors can increase or decrease the frequency. For example, the more pets you have the more often your filter will need to be changed. The less you use your system, for example, in a vacation home—you may change it less often. Therefore, you always need to check your filter as often as possible. Otherwise, you could end up with our next cause of airflow issues.

BLOCKED/LEAKING DUCTS

When you let your filters get clogged eventually they stop filtering and end up restricting air intake. However, some air still gets through, but it brings debris and particles with it. That debris builds up in the ductwork and causes all kinds of issues.

This can also be compounded if the ductwork installed is smaller than recommended for your HVAC system’s capacity. These ducts are already too narrow for your system in these cases, and the build-up chokes it even more.

Additionally, rodents such as field mice, or squirrels can get in your ductwork and build nests which could also cause a blockage. A good way to get to the bottom of this is to have your ducts inspected to determine the cause of a blockage.

WEAK BLOWER FAN

Your HVAC system uses blower fans that get air moving through your ducts and out the various vents. Sometimes, blower fans can get a build-up of dirt and grime that can slow the fan motor, leading to low airflow.

Simple solution—just clean the blower fan and you should be good to go.

DIRTY COILS

The condenser coil is another critical component because it has a major role. It is responsible for releasing the heat that’s been extracted from your home. Since it’s housed in the outdoor unit, it’s exposed to weather and debris.

The coils can get so dirty that the dirt acts as an insulator and prevents it from releasing the heat. This is why we recommend our MVP preventative maintenance service. With our MVP service, your condenser coil is cleaned on every system check-up keeping it healthy.

LOW COOLANT

This is another common culprit, especially in older systems or systems that haven’t been maintained properly. If your HVAC system is low on coolant or is leaking coolant— it can lead to poor airflow. Our HVAC techs can test your system for leaks or low levels and get the issue fixed.

OVERSIZED HVAC SYSTEM

We know, “everything is bigger in Texas.” However, when it comes to HVAC systems, bigger is not always better. It can be worse. If you have a system that is too big for the space you’re needing to cool, it causes issues.

It will run with poor efficiency, cycling on and off too often, preventing it from removing humidity. This not only affects airflow but also comfort levels. Your house will often feel stuffy, and very humid.

Prevent HVAC Airflow Issues With AirTeam MVP Service

Even though airflow issues can arise from many different causes, you can eliminate the risk of all of them with proper maintenance. Our MVP preventative maintenance plan keeps your system running as efficiently as possible. It also detects any wear and tear-related issues early, before they cause larger problems.

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