Is your air conditioner operating as well as it should be? If you feel like airflow isn’t optimal in every room of your home, then it is possible that there’s a problem.
Many reasons may lurk behind what appears to be airflow issues. Sometimes, airflow isn’t the issue at all, but testing is needed to determine this.
According to experts in air conditioning systems, friction and turbulence are the two main culprits behind impaired airflow.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that can cause poor airflow and how to fix these problems. Then, call Delaware Heating and Air to have one of our experts inspect your air conditioning system.
Common Causes of Poor Air Flow
Why does the airflow from your air conditioner seem poor? It can be difficult to pinpoint the cause, but there are a few common issues that can make you aware that not everything is as it should be.
The problem may be with the systems:
- Duct runs
- Duct leakage
- Lack of return air vents
- Improperly sized vents or ductwork
Let’s examine each of these potential problems in more detail.
Furnace Filters That Are Dirty or Overly Efficient
Do you remember how friction and turbulence are responsible for most air flow issues? When the furnace filter is dirty or excessively efficient, it causes friction issues.
When the installer designed the ductwork and set the fan speed, the thickness of the furnace’s filter was taken into account. However, that thickness can increase over time as the filter gets dirty. With the increased thickness, the pressure of the moving air is changed because it is restricted. The result is an uneven distribution of air.
The quality of the air in your home is fundamental to your family’s health. Your furnace filter goes a long way toward ensuring better indoor air quality. In fact, each filter receives a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV.
A MERV rating may range from 1 to 16. The higher the rating is, the fewer contaminants are able to get through it. The MERV scale provides a glimpse at how the filter would perform in the worst circumstances under which it would need to remove particles of between 0.3 to ten microns.
A filter is given a MERV rating only after being put through a series of exhaustive tests. These tests include the introduction of particles that are likely to be present around your house. These include:
- Fibers from carpet and other textiles
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Mold spores
In most homes, a furnace filter with a MERV rating somewhere in the range of seven to 12 is adequate. Remember that the higher the rating is, the smaller the pores in the filter are. Those smaller pores can create additional airflow resistance, which can be problematic as it lowers efficiency. Accordingly, opting for a MERV rating that is too high actually can be detrimental to indoor air quality. At the same time, the extra pressure on your AC and furnace could cause damage.
The solution to a dirty filter is to clean or replace it. Alternatively, make certain that your air conditioner’s motor is rated to handle a filter with a high MERV rating. If it is not, then it may be necessary to change the filter more frequently or switch to a filter with a slightly lower MERV rating.
Problems with Duct Runs
Ideally, each duct run in your home is designed and installed to provide a specified amount of air to each room. Should this duct run configuration change, it will not be able to deliver the right amount of air to the room.
It is possible that ductwork may be improperly installed, thereby restricting air flow right from the beginning. That’s because the longer the air is required to travel, and the more twists and turns it must take, the more turbulence is created. With all of that turbulence, it is unlikely that the air will ever reach its intended destination. If a duct run should ever be crushed, kinked, or bent, this will make it even harder to ensure proper airflow distribution.
The vast majority of homes in the United States have ductwork that has cracks and holes. This leads to significant leakage, which reduces the comfort level in your home while also forcing you to pay more for energy.
According to the Department of Energy, the average duct system suffers from between 35- and 50 percent leakage. This means that this amount of air that is intended to travel from the air handler to a portion of your home is never reaching its destination.
Some leakage also may be occurring inside the home. Homeowners may not be as concerned about these leaks because they figure that the air is still reaching some parts of the home. However, leakage inside the home can still affect the comfort level of the home and cause you to pay more for your energy bill.
If leaky ducts are causing poor air flow, then it is possible for a technician from Delaware Heating and Air to seal it up. With the leaks gone, it is possible for all of the air being produced by the handler to reach its destination. Next, the technician will balance the entire duct system to ensure that each room is receiving the appropriate amount of air.
Insufficient Return Air Vents
Most HVAC systems are what are called closed-loop systems. That is, the system produces a predetermined amount of air, and all of that air is distributed throughout the system so that an equal amount of air is returned from the home to the system where it is once again conditioned and distributed.
Accordingly, each area that is served by the air conditioning system receives a measured amount of air. An equal amount of air should be returned to the system. If the return is not equal, then the area being served becomes pressurized and the amount of airflow that it is capable of receiving becomes limited.
It’s a bit like blowing into a drinking straw. As long as both ends of the straw are open, you can freely blow air through it. If you restrict one end of the straw, you can no longer blow as much air into it.
Improperly Sized Vents or Ductwork
The ductwork that is too big for the system can cause many problems with airflow. The air is supposed to move through the ductwork to reach its destination. This is achieved by maintaining the appropriate amount of static pressure throughout the ductwork. If the ducts are too large, air pressure inevitably will drop. This means that it cannot reach its destination.
It also is possible that the ductwork may be too small. With too much constriction, the air cannot freely flow to its intended room.
What Can You Do to Improve AC Air Flow?
The good news is that there are things that you can do to ensure the better operation of your air conditioning system.
For instance, you can unblock your AC vents. The system draws air in through vents located in the handler. The air is then pumped through the ducts and sent through the vents that are located in the rooms. The indoor air circulates thanks to changes in air pressure from the air conditioning system to create a circular pattern. If any one part of that pattern is disrupted, then the entire system slows down and becomes less efficient.
Unblock your AC vents to ensure that the circular pattern can be completed. Most vents have a closing system that internally blocks them. Check each one to ensure that they are open. If anything is blocking the vents, like furniture, you may need to move it farther away from the vent to ensure better airflow.
It further is possible that your AC vents have become dirty. Even a small sideways gust can blow dirt and debris directly into the vents. That dirt tends to build up and block the airflow. Check inside each vent to see if anything is stuck inside. Small bits of paper, lint balls, and other debris may be causing a larger problem than you realize.
Make a habit of checking your AC unit filters on a regular basis. Clean or replace them at least once every three months. It’s also wise to give some thought to the type of filter that you are using. Does it have an appropriate MERV rating for your system’s motor?
Schedule AC Maintenance Today
Contact Delaware Heating and Air to have routine HVAC maintenance performed on your system. Your technician can tell you whether or not your air conditioner is running as efficiently as possible. If the airflow from your system seems to be weakening, then it’s a sign that problems may be developing. You can head off those problems with one call to Delaware Heating and Air.