HVAC Maintenance Tip: Improve System Airflow
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Restricted airflow is a major problem for heating and cooling systems. Without proper airflow through the system, equipment can become overheated, stressed and forced to consume excessive energy, and it may not be possible to deliver the conditioned air you need in the home.
HVAC Maintenance Steps to Improve Airflow
Homeowners should perform HVAC maintenance monthly to ensure their systems have access to adequate airflow – it’ll improve your comfort and system efficiency. Here’s what to do:
- Inspect your air filter, changing it if needed. Most air filters should be changed about every 3 months, but during periods of heavy system use, such as summer and winter months, they may become clogged with contaminants sooner and require changing more frequently. Each month, take a look at your filter – if it’s covered in grey contamination, install a fresh one or clean your replaceable filter. Also, it’s best not to use air filters with a MERV rating of 13 or higher (such as HEPA filters) in residential HVAC systems – these powerful filters may actually restrict airflow through the system. A filter rated MERV 8 to 12 is ideal for superior contaminant removal in residential environments. For added contaminant control and air quality improvement, consider installing a whole home air purification system.
- Check all vents and grilles inside the home. No furniture, rugs, or other items should be placed on top or in front of them. All vent louvers should be set to open – if you wish to close off unused areas to save energy, installing a zoning system is a smarter solution. Your home’s HVAC system was designed to work optimally with all vents open – closing them can cause air to back up in the system, damaging HVAC components as well as ducting.
- During summer months, ensure your exterior condenser or heat pump has not become clogged with contaminants. It’s easy for grass clippings to blow up against and cover the fins of the unit, which will restrict air from moving through it. Vegetation growing around the unit can also cause airflow issues. Never store items around your cooling system components. If you wish to build a surround to disguise your equipment, leave proper clearance surrounding the unit to allow for air movement – at least 2 feet.
Duct system issues and ventilation problems may also stand in the way of your HVAC systems receiving adequate airflow. These are best handled by qualified HVAC maintenance professionals who can diagnose airflow issues and perform needed repairs or equipment installations.
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