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Solving Air Flow Problems in Your Home
Basic things a homeowner can check to help with airflow:
First and foremost, check the furnace filter to see if it is dirty, and if it is, remove the dirty filter and install a new furnace filter. Clogged furnace filters restrict air flow by creating a pressure drop. Next, walk around the house to see if the cool returning air is obstructed by things like couches, carpets, or closets. If anything is obstructing the vent, remove these obstructions so that the return cool air, which is the air intake, can draw enough air. Last but not least, walk around your home and check that all the intake registers (heat vents that blow air out) are open. All delivery registers must be open.
A popular misconception among homeowners is that closing some vents throughout the house will cause other vents to blow harder. This is simply not true because the CFM (measurement of air flow, cubic feet per minute) is determined by the diameter of the pipe and only so much CFM can ever blow out due to the size of the circle, whether the other registers are off or not. Closing too many supply registers usually does more harm than good by causing pressure problems throughout the duct system, which in extreme cases can actually short cycle your furnace on high, increasing the cost of your utility bill, while keeping the key working HVAC components and parts to shorten their life expectancy. Never buy and install heat vent filters either because these filters really cause pressure problems too. If too much dust is blowing from the vents, it is best to consider giving your HVAC system a thorough cleaning using the electric vacuum/air sweep method of air duct cleaning by ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America). ) member company. The average price for a single furnace home would cost between $400.00 and $700.00 to get the job done right, depending on where you live in the country and the operating costs of the service providers. Dirt causes 1/3 of our repair calls because it shortens the life of parts and the HVAC system is a circulating system. So keeping your HVAC system clean will increase the life expectancy of the parts, can improve airflow by removing all the beer cans and construction debris obstructing the circuits, reduce unpleasant odors that develop in the ducts if present, and can improve HVAC energy efficiency system as a whole.
Some solutions an HVAC company or contractor may suggest:
It is very common for older homes to have air ducts incorrectly sized because building departments in the past did not emphasize the importance of properly dimensioned air duct construction and also due to the fact that some builders wanted to save money by making the ducts themselves instead of paying a heating professional and cooling for proper tube placement. In recent years, many building departments across the United States have really dedicated themselves to enforcing proper duct design, so indoor thermal comfort has improved dramatically in most newer homes. A few things your licensed HVAC company or contractor may suggest if you live in an older home that has airflow issues to drastically improve the airflow in your home might be the following:
– Let me rip out all your channels and start over! (That would be sweet, but in many cases it’s just not practical due to cost, time, and a lot of mess!)
– I can help you with your home’s HVAC system by replacing your old inefficient furnace with a 2-stage variable speed 80% AFUE furnace equipped with a GE ECM motor. The GE ECM motor runs 30-40% more efficiently than a standard conventional multi-speed motor and maintains a constant CFM even if your duct is too small and restrictive. This means that vents that never seem to blow air with your inefficient old furnace will suddenly blow air after installing a new Rheem furnace equipped with a GE ECM motor. The ECM engine also allows homeowners to qualify for a $50.00 EPACT tax credit that you can receive when you pay your taxes, so even the federal government wants you to go for it!
– For some reason your home doesn’t have enough return air vents to get enough air into the duct system in the first place! We need to install additional return air vents in your duct system to get additional CFM into the HVAC system so that your indoor AC evaporator coil can stop freezing. Heck, you’re paying more money for cooling, not to mention the fact that your air conditioner isn’t even keeping the house cool enough! Let’s fix that and add some new return air vents so you can save some money on your utility bill and actually stay cool this summer too!
– Let’s go ahead and rip out the 4″ diameter ductwork and install 6″ diameter ductwork so we can circulate more air into that sunroom!
– You know, your ducts are incredibly correctly sized, but all the air is leaking into the unfinished parts of the house because the duct construction is so loose. Let’s go ahead and seal all the main line connections, struts, seams and end cap with putty duct seal. By sealing all the duct connections on the whole system we’ll see if we can blow those curtains aside after all! No, just kidding, but the air will be a little harder to get out, although it will be due to better sealing of the piping and you will see a significant reduction in your utility bill because the system will now cycle only half as often.
– You know, for some reason all your ducts are sized correctly, but the return leg attached to your furnace is way too small and acts as a choke point. Let’s rip that leg out and install a bigger one with bigger dimensions to let that air through!
– You know, your handyman really got cheap and should install 2 separate systems considering your home is 3600 square feet. Running two smaller systems will actually cost you less on your utility bills and provide more comfort. Save some money and build a second system in the attic!
– You know, the most cost effective thing I can think of that will greatly improve your indoor comfort is to simply split your current system so that 3 different thermostats control 3 different temperatures in your home. Depending on the brand you choose, we can usually install this system anywhere from $3800.00 to $6000.00 depending on how fancy you want to install it!
– You know that the evaporator coil is completely blocked, which effectively limits the amount of air. Dirt collects on the inside of the coil where you can’t see it very well. Let’s go ahead and do a vacuum/air wash on that coil to really and effectively clean it. Avoid those $99.00 air duct cleaners that want to try and shop for the coil as this is simply not effective at cleaning the coil properly. We need to air wash the entire coil and not just the surface to effectively restore and properly clean the coil. An electric vacuum air duct cleaner will be required to do the job properly!
You can see that some of these helper jobs will only cost a few hundred dollars, while some solutions can cost thousands of dollars, but in the end, after the repairs are made, your utility bill will probably be significantly lower and you will finally have real comfort indoors that you didn’t have before. Many HVAC companies and contractors will also give you more than one option to consider, so whatever you decide on can at least improve your comfort. The best thing you can do as a homeowner is to choose an ACCA member heating and air conditioning company or contractor to ensure your comfort professional has all the latest and greatest training, tools and professional assistance to provide you as the customer serves best. You won’t regret it in the long run, as you’ll save some money on utility bills and, as a result, you’ll be much more comfortable in your home.
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