Once I purchased my first home, I realized that I needed to do my part in caring for my home appliances. In addition to reading the user manuals for my kitchen appliances and state-of-the-art plumbing system, I realized that I also needed to do a little research about HVAC. Because I had no experience with HVAC systems, I called out a professional to teach me a thing or two. It was fascinating to talk with him, and I was able to take notes about all kinds of important topics, such as maintenance, troubleshooting, and even shopping for a new system. This blog is all about understanding HVAC guidelines.
If your home's heating and air conditioning system seems inadequate to heat and cool your interior spaces, you may need to take a closer look at the air distribution network. The ductwork inside your home's walls, basement, or attic carries heated or cooled air to where it needs to be, but several potential obstacles can disrupt the airflow. Fortunately, some of these problems can easily be resolved by homeowners without much or any expense. Below is a list of potential trouble spots and how to resolve them:
One of the most common complaints homeowners have when it comes to their homes' heating and air conditioning systems is uneven heating and cooling. Some rooms may seem overly cool, while others may be too hot; depending on the time of year, this problem can be reversed in the same home.
In situations like this, the trouble often lies with closed registers. Air vent operation is controlled via levers that rotate louvers. Depending on the settings used, airflow can be restricted completely, left wide open or adjusted to any point between the two. While the careful use of vent register controls can help maintain comfort by directing airflow away or toward a particular area, closing them entirely can cause more trouble than good. Central heating and air conditioning systems are installed with balanced operation in mind, and isolating areas using vent closures disrupts this balance. Ultimately, that is why purposely closing vents is usually not recommended except for short periods of time. If you do close your registers, be sure they are in a room separated from air return grilles and that all doors leading to the room are also kept closed.
Of course, vents can also be closed accidentally, particularly if they are located on a floor or in easily-accessible locations near children, for example. That is why it is recommended to periodically survey your registers to look for closures and reopen them as necessary, especially if you are having problems with uneven heating and cooling.
Obstructed return grilles
Another potential source of trouble is the obstruction of returning air into the system. As with vents, return air grilles are strategically placed throughout your home to permit ideal airflow. Grilles that are blocked by furniture, drapes, or even rugs in the case of floor-mounted returns will hinder the functioning of your system. That is why you should always allow grilles to remain fully open to returning air; if you aren't pleased with the appearance of a grille due to its color or construction, keep in mind that you can replace them with stylish, modern units that blend better with your decor.
In addition to obstruction from the outside of your return grille, internal obstructions can also be a source of problems. Most air returns are fitted with a removable filter, and these filters will significantly reduce airflow in the system if they become clogged with dust or debris. That is why regular replacement is necessary; depending on the type of filter, replacement should be performed as often as once per month or even more often in homes with large amounts of pet dander or in dusty locations.
If you have regularly changed the return air filters in your system, then your central heating and air ductwork should remain clean for a significant period of time. However, if filter changes were not performed regularly or if filters were not used at all, then chances are good that your ducts are choked with debris. This debris can also inhibit airflow throughout the system, resulting in poor performance and even shortening the lifespan of your equipment.
The solution to this problem is usually beyond the means of most homeowners, so it will pay to contact a qualified air duct cleaning service. The best duct cleaning involves the use of specialized equipment and paying close attention to the job at hand. This is necessary to avoid damaging system components and omitting areas that need cleaning.