Most people despise winters in Chicago because of the bitter cold wind, the unpredictable amounts of snow, and the months without so much as a ray of sunlight. These unpleasant features of winter are what force us indoors to crank up the heat. For many homes, it is difficult to get the temperature in the home balanced, and some rooms remain ice cold. As a result, we have to raise the thermostat higher and higher. The higher we raise the temperature, the higher our energy bills will be. What can be done to stop this from happening? You have to find the source of the problem, and for many homes, that problem is poor air flow!
Poor air flow causes your heating and cooling systems run poorly. In the summer, it is easy to simply not use the air conditioner to save a few bucks, but in the winter, turning off the furnace for long periods of time just isn’t an option. There is good news though! All it takes is a few simple checks and maybe the help of an HVAC contractor like Four Seasons Heating and Air Conditioning, and your furnace could be heating more efficiently than it ever has before.
For starters, you need to identify what parts of your home are affected by poor air flow. Walk around from room to room and pay attention to any temperature differences that there may be. It could be one room or even an entire floor of your home that is in need of better air flow. Once you have recognized which rooms are affected, there are a few checks you can do on your own to hopefully improve the airflow to that space:
- Check the SUPPLY and RETURN registers- These are the registers, or vents, that are located in each room. Supply vents blow hot air that came from the furnace. Return vents draw air back into the duct work to go back to the furnace. If these vents are closed or blocked, this could be a cause of poor air flow. Make sure you move any furniture that is blocking a vent, and open any vents that are closed. Also, smaller rooms need less air flow. You could try partially closing the registers in smaller rooms to force more air towards rooms that need more air flow.
- Check the furnace filter- Many homeowners forget to check or don’t even know that they have a furnace filter that needs to be changed regularly. A dirty filter could be crippling your HVAC units from running efficiently as well as contributing to poor air flow in the home. You should replace your air filter at least every 3 months, but you should also check it every 30 days to make sure that it is clean enough to remain in use.
- Check the blower motor- The blower motor is a fan that is located inside the furnace. This fan is responsible for circulating the heated air throughout the home. If you have been running your furnace with a dirty filter or without an air filter, your blower motor is probably filthy. A build-up of dirt on your blower motor reduces air flow, and it needs to be cleaned professionally. A Four Seasons certified HVAC technician can perform this type of furnace repair without causing damage to the blower motor.
- Check the dampers- The dampers are adjustable plates that are located in certain types of duct work systems. If adjusted properly, you can limit or increase the amount or air flow received in certain parts of the home. If you are unsure of how to do this properly, have Four Seasons out to accurately adjust the dampers for you!
- Check the duct work- The duct work in your home is the transport system for the heated air that your furnace generates. It is usually looks like a rectangular or cylindrical maze of metal or fiberglass inside the ceilings, walls, and floors. Some homes have what is called flex duct work. This looks like shiny bendable tubes that are connected to the registers and furnace. If there are places in the home where the duct work is viewable, you should check it for leaks or damage. If a duct appears to have a leak or is crushed in some way, you need to have that portion of duct work removed. Air could be escaping at this point causing poor air flow. Repairing duct work should be done by a trained and reliable professional. This is the only way to know for sure that it has been installed properly.
- Have a duct cleaning performed- The constant circulation of air through the duct work causes a build-up of dust and debris. This build-up could be causing poor air circulation in the system. If you have never had the ducts cleaned before, you need to call a certified duct cleaning company to perform this service as soon as possible. Four Seasons Home Services offers a duct cleaning service performed by two of our NADCA certified service men. We use a top of the line 3 stage filter system and rotary brush to get your duct work impeccably clean. This will not only improve your air flow, it will also improve the overall quality of your indoor air. Call today for a free estimate or to learn more about what Four Seasons Home Services has to offer.
The Flex-duct Problem
Many homes are equipped with a type of duct work known as FLEX DUCT. If you have this type of duct work system in your home, there is a good possibility that you have an air flow problem. The biggest problem with this kind of duct work is that it is rarely installed properly. Many home builders or HVAC contractors will use this type of duct work because it is cheap and can be installed without excessive labor. Sheet metal and fiberglass duct work are both very inflexible and require a lot more skill to be installed in a home.
Flex ducts are made of wire, plastic, and insulation. They can fit around tight corners and bend in ways that traditional duct work materials cant. But, just because it can do these things, it doesn’t mean that it should. When flex duct is installed with bends and kinks in it, the air friction created by the air being pushed through the ducts is increased. The more air friction there is the less air flow that is received in the rooms of the home. Flex duct causes the most air friction of all the types of duct work.
Another big mistake made in the installation of flex duct is when it is left sagging in certain areas. Flex duct should be pulled taut in order to decrease the air flow friction. Also, it is very easy for flex duct to be crushed if not supported properly. If something falls on the flex duct or if something is being supported by it, air flow could be cut off to that portion of duct work completely.
If you have flex duct in your home, you should seriously consider having it replaced. The only instance where flex duct should be used is as a connector from a metal or fiberglass duct to a register. When it is used for this purpose there should be no more than 5’ of flex duct, and it needs to be stretched tight from beginning to end.
Once you have made these changes to your system, your air flow problem should have disappeared. Now the temperature in your home should be balanced from room to room, and your HVAC systems should be running more efficiently. The benefits of these changes will make your home a more comfortable place and make using the furnace less of a drain on your bank account.