Common Causes of HVAC Airflow Issues

close up of outdoor hvac unit - common causes of hvac airflow issues

Keeping a residential HVAC unit functional can be difficult. The older an HVAC system gets, the harder it will be to avoid serious repair issues. How you respond to the repair issues your unit has will often dictate how much damage the system experiences. When faced with air conditioning repair issues, consider that professionals can usually better diagnose the underlying cause of your problems and get them fixed in a timely manner.

That said, one of the main things your HVAC unit needs to operate efficiently is an unrestricted flow of air. If airflow gets restricted, your unit will be put in a bind. Here are some of the most common causes of HVAC airflow issues and what you can do to address them.

Dirty Air Filters Can Wreak Havoc on HVAC Units


Every year, homeowners around the world spend billions of dollars on HVAC repair and maintenance. While most of the maintenance a unit needs should be performed by professionals, there are some things the average homeowner can handle on their own. One of the main things you need to check on a monthly basis is your HVAC air filter.

Over time, this air filter will be covered in a thick layer of dirt, dust and pollen. When this layer of pollutants is present, air will be unable to pass through. Cutting off the flow of air to your HVAC unit will lead to it getting overworked. This is why you need to work on keeping your HVAC air filter clean. Investing in a quality replacement filter is also something you should prioritize.

Blocked Indoor Air Vents


The air cooled or heated by your HVAC unit travels through your ductwork and out of your vents. If the vents where this air comes out are clogged or blocked, your unit will become far less efficient. Some homeowners make the mistake of closing the vent registers in unused parts of their residence. While this might seem like a good way to reduce the amount of work your HVAC unit has to do, it can actually create lots of problems.

You also need to make sure that nothing is blocking your vent registers. If your home is equipped with floor-mounted vent registers, then you need to make sure they aren’t covered with pieces of furniture. Performing a routine inspection of your vents is a great way to find these blockages early on before they cause problems for your HVAC unit.

Bent Exterior Condenser Fans


air conditioner fan - common causes of hvac airflow issues

The typical residential HVAC unit features both indoor and outdoor equipment. The outdoor portion of an HVAC unit is equipped with a condenser unit. These condenser units are exposed to the elements, which means they can get damaged over time.

The metal fins that encase your condenser fan are susceptible to getting bent. When this bending occurs, it will restrict airflow to the outdoor portion of your unit. Hiring professionals to fix these bent fins will allow you to restore the airflow your unit needs to thrive.

Issues With the Condenser Unit


The outdoor portion of an HVAC unit is designed to release the heat absorbed from your indoor air supply. While there are a number of important components in the outside portion of your unit, one essential part is the AC condenser. One of the main things this component needs to function properly is the right amount of airflow. When leaves and debris are allowed to remain around the outdoor portion of your HVAC unit, it can obstruct airflow. 

This is why you need to take the time to clean around this part of your HVAC system on a regular basis. Remove any dirt and debris that might be present. You could also hire professionals to perform a thorough cleaning of the outdoor portion of your unit.

Leaking Ductwork


The ductwork attached to your HVAC system is extremely important. The large foil pipes attached to your vent registers are sealed up with the help of duct tape. As time goes by, this tape will peel off. This is usually due to the weakening of the adhesive component on this tape. If the tape comes off of the vent registers, the airflow in your home will be compromised. 

When you start to notice that little to no air is coming out of the vent registers in your home, take a look at your ductwork, or consider calling in professionals to do so. If the existing duct tape has been compromised, it will need to be replaced promptly. 

A Damaged Blower Fan


Once the air pulled in from outdoors is heated or cooled by your HVAC unit, it is blown through your ductwork. It is the job of the blower fan to make sure this heated or cooled air reaches it destination. A sluggish or damaged blower fan will significantly lower the airflow coming out of your vents. The older your HVAC blower fan is, the higher the chance will be that it needs to be replaced. 

Diagnosing issues involving blower fans can be quite complicated. This means that the average homeowner will have a hard time troubleshooting this issue. By hiring a knowledgeable HVAC technician, you can get to the bottom of your blower fan issues and have the existing fan replaced if need be. 

An Improperly Sized Unit


HVAC units that are too small for the home they’re installed in will produce very weak airflow. Not only will an improperly sized unit produce weak airflow, it will also consume a lot of energy. This is why you need to consult with professionals to ensure the new HVAC unit you select is the best fit for your home.

As soon as you start to notice airflow issues, troubleshoot by checking for these problems. It will save your HVAC unit in the long run. 

Feature image: Sam Jotham Sutharson; Image 1: kuanish Sarsenov

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