Is your air conditioner working properly? If you think you might be having issues with airflow, you will likely recognize one or more of these symptoms:
- Hot and cold spots throughout the house, with no consistent temperature level. Regularly one of the first signs of airflow issues.
- Imbalance of pressure. You’ll notice this when doors slam on their own, you hear weird whistling noises and find unusually drafty areas of the house. Poor AC airflow can cause problems with air pressure.
- Little to no air passing through your air conditioning registers.
- Air conditioner only blows warm air.
An issue with airflow is not something that will fix itself. Ignoring these symptoms for too long will cause undue strain on your HVAC system, resulting in a costly compressor failure. An air conditioner can’t work without a compressor, so this will likely mean you have to replace your whole system. Luckily, many of these issues are easy and relatively affordable to fix. We’ve gathered 10 of the most common causes of airflow issues to help you diagnose what the cause is. When you need an HVAC professional to ensure your system is working properly, look no further than the team at Integrity AC and Heating.
-Congested Condenser Unit
One of the most common airflow issues is also one of the easiest to fix — so easy, you can do it on your own! Air conditioners use what is called a condensing unit, which is most often found either outside or in a mechanical room. Outdoor units can be easily obstructed by leaves, debris, and plants that have encroached on the unit’s area. Condensers in mechanical rooms can also be blocked by other equipment or items in storage. When this happens, your system will be unable to access enough air, causing it to overheat. To fix it, clear the area around the condenser unit of any debris or other items that are impeding the airflow.
-Blocked Vents or Registers
This is another common airflow issue, but another easy fix. Ensure all vents and registers are open and are not being blocked by furniture, curtains, plants, or other objects. We see this happen a lot in office settings when people are unable to agree on thermostat settings. Someone thinks it’s too cold, so they move a filing cabinet in front of a vent. Once that happens, the airflow has been compromised and the system will be unable to work properly.
-Clogged Air Filters
How often do you change the filters in your air conditioner? Depending on your system and the type of air filter you’re using, they need to be replaced or cleaned every month to six months. The purpose of an air filter is to catch and remove dirt and other particles from the air preventing them from getting in your equipment and ducts. When filters are clogged, airflow will be severely impeded, which results in those hot and cold spots, as well as overly stuffy air. When debris enters the equipment it can cause damage to the inner workings of your system as well. A clogged air filter will also put more strain on your system, which will reduce its lifespan and require costly repairs or a full system replacement. Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations for how often your filters should be replaced.
-Blocked or Leaky Ductwork
You might be wondering what happens to dust and debris that gets past a clogged air filter. It will end up accumulating in your ductwork, which will reduce your indoor air quality as well as cause damage to the parts within your system. If your ducts are too small to handle the capacity of your air conditioner, it is easy for this dust to build up and clog your system.
Older buildings also have to contend with rodents, birds, and insects building nests within ductwork, creating a blockage. Cracks or holes can also develop within ductwork, resulting in air leaking out. These issues all result in reduced airflow for both heating and air conditioning. Contact an HVAC professional to have your ductwork inspected to see if a cleaning or repair is necessary to improve airflow.
Airflow issues can also be caused by something as small as a faulty thermostat. Make sure the batteries are charged and it is operational to ensure this isn’t the issue. Additionally, a thermostat placed near appliances that generate a lot of heat, such as ovens and clothes dryers, can throw off its temperature readings. When that happens, it will overcompensate and cause a disparity in the temperature of the home compared to what temperature you have set the thermostat to.
HVAC systems use blower fans to move air through the ductwork and throughout your home. If the blower motor is sluggish or otherwise not working as it needs to, airflow will be impeded, and the symptoms we mentioned earlier will begin to crop up. In restaurants and kitchen areas, blower fans can get covered by a layer of grime that causes it to run slowly, reducing airflow. Luckily, all you need to do to fix this is clean off the fan.
-Dirty Condenser Coils
Air conditioners use condenser coils to remove the heat that has been absorbed in your home. Condenser coils are a part of outdoor units, which means they are exposed to weather and falling debris. If the coil gets dirty, it will be unable to release the heat. This makes your system work harder (and hotter) as it tries to cool your home down. Not only will this result in airflow issues, it will also cause your system to work harder than it needs to, which will reduce its lifespan. Avoid this by getting your coils cleaned regularly, at least once or twice a year.
-Low Refrigerant Levels
Working in conjunction with the condenser coils, refrigerant is what absorbs and transfers heat out of your home. When an air conditioner has a refrigerant leak, it will cause airflow issues and cooling will be severely impacted. If you think you have a refrigerant leak, it is important you contact an HVAC professional to have your system inspected for leaks and repaired. Refrigerant is a toxic substance and is dangerous for non-professionals to come into contact with, so keep children and pets away from the area until it is fixed.
-AC Unit is Too Big
We’ve all heard the saying “bigger is better”, but when it comes to air conditioners, that’s not usually the case. If an HVAC unit is too big for the area it is attempting to cool, it will run inefficiently, cycling on and off with too much frequency in an attempt to maintain the temperature. When it does this, the system will not run long enough to properly remove heat and humidity from the area. This results in a stuffy and uncomfortable environment. Check our helpful guide for sizing your AC unit to ensure your system isn’t too big for your home.
We see this happen a lot; homeowners that have gone through and renovated every piece of their home, but their HVAC system is still the same old one that was installed when the house was built. The layout and sizing of your ductwork or system may no longer be suited to properly cool your home after making these updates. Consult an HVAC professional to discuss your options to efficiently cool your home. Whether it is replacing the system or updating your ductwork, there are ways to make a big impact on your home’s airflow.
Poor airflow from a bogged down air conditioner is a quick way to have a miserable summer. With how hot it gets here in Phoenix, it’s important to have a system you can rely on. To ensure your system is ready to handle the oncoming summer, call your local HVAC gurus at Integrity AC and Heating. We’ll be more than happy to answer any of your questions about improving your home’s airflow. We hope to hear from you soon!