Let Your Comfort System Breath!
We all know what airflow is, but do what know what influences the airflow within our homes? Better airflow means the HVAC unit can move more heat and bring the air in the conditioned space to the desired temperature more efficiently. Reduced airflow means the HVAC unit cannot operate as effectively, reducing both its cooling capacity and energy efficiency.
The effects of poor airflow can ultimately result in equipment breakdowns — never a good thing, especially in the heat of summer when you rely on your AC the most! Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can evaluate and improve the airflow and air quality in your home.
1) Change Your Filter Regularly
One of the easiest ways to maintain proper airflow in your home is to change your HVAC unit’s filter regularly. This can also improve the air quality in your home, since your HVAC filter removes dust, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, bacteria, and more from the air that is being circulated in your space.
Manufacturers usually recommend that the filter be changed every three months, but your filter may get dirty well before that 90-day period ends, especially during the months when your unit is working the hardest. Take a peek at your filter on a regular basis. If it looks visibly dirty, replace it.
2) Use a Filter with an Appropriate Effectiveness Rating
A filter’s effectiveness rating is indicated by its minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV. The MERV scale ranges from 1 to 16, with 16 being the very best. Most residential units can do the job well with a filter rated between 7 and 12; filters rated 13 to 16 usually are found in operating rooms and other sensitive settings where sterility is a concern.
3) Keep Indoor Vents Clean and Unblocked
Make sure air can flow through your vents unimpeded by moving any furniture or other obstructions that are too close to your vent. Go over the vents with a vacuum cleaner attachment regularly to keep the vent free from dust and other particles that can build up over time.
4) Check Ductwork for Leaks
If you have exposed ductwork running through an unconditioned space such as an attic, check it to make sure there are no leaks in the ducts. Even small leaks can reduce airflow, especially if there are multiple leaks. These leaks make your system work harder than it needs to, hurting its energy efficiency. You can check for leaks by running your hand just above the surface of the exposed ducts in your attic to feel for any drafts. If you find a spot where air is blowing through, seal the hole with sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape. (Despite its name, don’t use duct tape.)
In a similar manner, check the spots where the ductwork goes through the attic floor. Seal any leaks you find with foam. Once all the leaks are sealed, use insulation on your exposed ducts to help keep the air inside them at the desired temperature as your HVAC unit moves it through your home.
5) Keep Tabs By Measuring Airflow in Your Home
There are a few methods you can use to measure the airflow in your home. Some involve specialized equipment that only HVAC professionals are likely to have, but there are a few DIY ways you can try. You can find detailed instructions here.
Even if you use these tips to help improve your home’s airflow, you may find it worthwhile to have a trained professional at Bob Jenson assess your home to determine if more substantial improvements can be made. Identifying and enacting these improvements will keep your home more comfortable, and could save you money over time with reduced cooling costs and emergency service calls. Contact us today to learn how we can help!
For over 45 years, Bob Jenson has been providing quality heating and air services to the San Diego community.
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