Proper air flow is one of the most critical things your air conditioner needs to do its job properly. Are you experiencing the following symptoms of air conditioning problems? If so, you’ve probably got air flow issues. Read on for more information about what to do and how to prevent AC failure.
Symptoms of air conditioning problems caused by poor air flow
1. Not enough air coming from the registers. If you put your hand in front of your air conditioning registers and feel barely a trickle of cool air coming out, there’s definitely an air flow problem.
2. System is blowing warm air. Even worse than not enough cold air, you might actually feel warm air coming out of the registers.
3. Hot and cold spots. Are some rooms too warm while others are freezing? Temperature variance is another common symptom of air conditioner problems caused by inadequate air flow.
Related article: Office Temperature Fluctuations Turning Your Cubicle into a War Zone?.
4. Unbalanced pressure. If you experience odd unexplained symptoms like doors opening and slamming all by themselves, whistling noises and random drafts of air, you might think you have a resident ghost. In reality these symptoms are caused by unbalanced air pressure, which can happen as a result of air flow issues.
Related article: HVAC Troubleshooting: Surprising Symptoms of HVAC Problems.
5. AC failure! When air flow issues are neglected for too long, the strain on the system can lead to compressor failure. The compressor is the heart of the system and an expensive part to replace. If it fails, there’s a good chance you’re going to need a new air conditioner.
Don’t let this happen to you! Read on for the common causes of poor air flow, as well as how to fix them and prevent them from happening again.
Causes of poor air flow
1. Clogged filter. The air filter’s job is to keep dust and debris out of your HVAC equipment. You’d be amazed how much builds up on there in a very short time. Just think about the smog in Manhattan and the dust your cleaning staff picks up every day. Imagine how much grime would accumulate if you didn’t clean for a month. That’s how much debris is clogging your air filter, and much more if you haven’t done it in a while. When that dust builds up inside the air conditioner, it causes wear and tear on the parts. And the clogged filter prevents enough air from flowing through the system to keep it working properly.
2. Fan issues. Your air conditioner has a fan that blows the air from your space over the evaporator coils to remove heat, and another fan that blows outside air over the condenser coils to help expel the collected heat outside the building. If either of those fans gets covered with debris (which can happen if the air filter is clogged, or if you’ve neglected maintenance) the fan speed slows down. Or you could have a fan motor that needs replacing. In either case, the inadequate air flow makes it harder for the system to remove heat and humidity from your space.
3. Leaky ducts. You’re spending a lot of money for cooled air, so the last thing you want to do is let it get wasted. Isn’t that why you’re always telling people to keep the doors and windows closed? Yet that’s what happens when you have holes and breaks in your ducts. Your expensive cooled air leaks into the crawl spaces and never makes it to the occupied areas of your space.
4. Inadequate ventilation. Have you recently replaced your air conditioner, or rearranged your space without updating the ventilation system? If so, your ducts may be too small to handle the volume of air being pushed from your new air conditioner. Or they may be incorrectly located for the new layout. Another problem is poorly designed ductwork with runs that are too long to carry the air to the space to be cooled.
5. Blocked vents. Do you have air temperature battles going on in your office? If workers are cold and frustrated enough to take matters into their own hands, they’ll use all kinds of creative ways to block the vents and prevent cold air from blowing in their cubicle or office. Unfortunately, this creates a strain and an imbalance in the system that can lead to temperature fluctuations all over the space.
HVAC preventive maintenance improves air flow to ward off air conditioning problems
Believe it or not, there’s some good news here. Many of the causes of poor air flow that lead to air conditioning problems can be fixed with HVAC preventive maintenance. Here’s how:
- Your technician will replace or clean air filters and check for any other blockages that are preventing air from flowing through the system.
- Fan blades will be cleaned, speed adjusted if needed, and motors inspected for proper operation.
- If you’re experiencing hot and cold spots, or lack of air coming from the registers in certain rooms, your tech can check the condition of the ducts and look for leaks.
- If you have recently replaced equipment (or even just changed the layout of your space) without updating the ventilation, ask your technician for an evaluation of your ductwork. A few small changes can sometimes make a big difference in the air flow.
When it comes to policing your employees who may be blocking the vents, that’s something you may have to handle on your own. But with a properly maintained system, your comfort levels should improve and hopefully the cubicle wars will improve as well.
Poor HVAC preventive maintenance is the root cause of many air conditioning problems, as well as other costs you may not even know about, such as reduced worker productivity and even lost customers. Start getting a handle on those costs with our helpful guide to Calculating the Hidden Costs of Poor HVAC Maintenance.