One of the most common HVAC complaints we get from homeowners in the Tampa Bay area is that their air conditioning system has low or reduced airflow. Considering we live in one of the warmest states in the U.S., low airflow in our HVAC systems is a big problem. Fortunately, most of the underlying issues that cause low or reduced airflow are simple to fix. Here’s what you can do.
3 Signs of HVAC Low Airflow
1. Hot spots, cold spots, or both: Experiencing hot spots, cold spots, or a mix of the two is often one of the first signs that your HVAC system is experiencing low or reduced airflow.
2. Little to no airflow coming from the air vents: If it’s within reach, place your hand underneath one of the air vents in your home to get a feel for the airflow. If you can feel little to no airflow, your HVAC system is experiencing an airflow issue.
3. Pressure imbalances: Sometimes an airflow issue presents itself in ways you might not expect, like pressure imbalances in your home. If you notice a whistling noise anywhere in your home or if you notice that doors seem to slam themselves, your HVAC low airflow may be to blame.
The Top 10 Causes of Low or Reduced Airflow in HVAC Systems
There are lots of potential causes of low or reduced airflow in HVAC systems, but here are the most common.
1. Blocked Air Vents or Registers
Sometimes the cause of low or reduced airflow in HVAC systems is simply due to the air vents or registers not being completely open. That’s why this is one of the first things we recommend homeowners check if their system is experiencing an airflow issue. All you need to do is check each air vent and register to make sure they are open and not blocked by furniture or another obstruction.
2. Clogged Air Filter
Have you changed your air filter lately? Air filters work hard to remove debris (think: dander, dirt, dust and more!) from the air and keep it out of your HVAC system. But this debris builds up fast, which is why you should change the air filter once every month or two. Life happens though, and before you know it, your air filter has been hard at work for longer than it can handle.
When air filters become clogged, they can’t do what they’re supposed to do (ie: trap that gross debris). What’s worse, a clogged air filter can impede airflow, making your home less comfortable and putting strain on your HVAC system in the process.
If it’s been a while since you’ve changed your air filter, try swapping it out for a fresh one and see if this improves the flow of air.
3. Blocked Air Ducts
Within your home are a series of air ducts, which work to circulate air and deliver it throughout each area. Just like the air filter, the air ducts can become blocked thanks to excess debris. When this happens, air won’t be able to flow as efficiently as it should, resulting in low or reduced air flow throughout your home. In addition to the usual debris like dander, dirt, and dust, other less-than-pleasant things can become trapped within your air ducts…like birds, insects, or rodents.
If you suspect your air ducts are blocked, don’t worry. Your local HVAC professional can perform a professional cleaning which can help restore proper airflow.
4. Dirty Evaporator Coils
The evaporator coils within your air conditioning system work to remove heat from the inside of your home. But since the evaporator coils are part of the outdoor unit, they are exposed to the elements and can become so dirty that they stop working. When this happens, your unit has to work harder to cool down your home. As a result, you might find your system has weak air flow.
If you haven’t had your evaporator coils cleaned within the last year, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your local HVAC technician. A simple cleaning will likely restore airflow.
5. Low Levels of Refrigerant
Refrigerant is essential when it comes to cooling any home. That’s why refrigerant leaks can quickly cause HVAC low airflow and widespread discomfort throughout your home. Refrigerant leaks are typically only common in older air conditioning systems, but in any case, exposure to refrigerant can be dangerous. If you suspect you have a leak, it’s important to have a professional test for leaks and repair them as soon as possible.
6. Thermostat Problems
Sometimes, the cause of low or reduced air flow is as simple as dead or low batteries in your thermostat. If it’s been a while since you’ve changed your thermostat batteries, swap in a set of new ones and see if this restores the flow of air.
7. Obstructed Condenser Unit
Most air conditioning systems have two components: the indoor unit and the outdoor unit. The outdoor unit, also called the condenser unit, is constantly exposed to the elements. While the outdoor unit is built to handle the elements; this also means debris like branches and leaves can sometimes cause an obstruction. When there is an obstruction, your air conditioning system can overheat, resulting in low or reduced airflow in your home as well as a slew of other problems.
For good measure, we always recommend that homeowners routinely check that their outdoor unit isn’t obstructed by anything – whether branches, leaves, outdoor furniture, and the like.
8. Faulty Fan
Your HVAC system has a set of blower fans that work to move air throughout the air ducts. But if one of these blower fans is faulty, it can quickly cause your HVAC to have low airflow. Sometimes this simply requires a cleaning of the fan to remove grime which often occurs with regular use.
9. Ineffective HVAC Design
Sometimes homeowners renovate their homes without considering their air conditioning system. Unfortunately, if you change the layout of your home, you may also need to consider changing the layout or sizing of the ductwork within your HVAC system. If you have added square footage to your home, for example, your old air conditioning design may not be able to properly cool your redesigned space.
If you think you may have this problem, have your local HVAC technician perform an inspection of your home and evaluate whether or not additional ductwork can help improve low or reduced airflow.
10. Old HVAC System
There comes a time when your HVAC system just won’t work like it used to. If your system is approaching the 10-year mark, and you notice low or reduced airflow, it may simply be time to consider upgrading your system. If you’re not sure whether a repair or replacement is your best option, you can always have your local air conditioning technician perform a comprehensive inspection and relay your best options with you.
Call Blair’s Air Conditioning for AC Repair in Pinellas County and South Tampa
If you have any issues with your HVAC and low airflow, we can help. Our experienced HVAC professionals will get your system back up and running in no time. We offer 24/7 emergency AC repair services, and we’re open 365 days a year. If everything is working properly, we can do a maintenance check to ensure that your home is ready for the summer.
Call (727) 800-4148 to schedule service.