If you’ve ever lived in a two-story home, you may have experienced the discomfort of uneven air distribution.
It goes a bit like this—in the winter, your upstairs bedroom is so you could have to sleep beneath an electric blanket, pile on extra quilts, or add a space heater to warm it up. Meanwhile, a smaller room down the hall is so warm that your child is sleeping on top of the covers. In the summer, you have the opposite problem. Your bedroom is roasting while your child’s room is far too chilly. You may have similar issues downstairs with your den, as compared to your study.
This type of problem is hard to correct without evaluating the airflow coming from every register in your home. There might also be other factors that also affect your ability to address the issue through replacement, such as the AC capacitor cost or price of servicing.
However, an experienced HVAC professional can correct this type of airflow problem by measuring the outputs and taking corrective actions to restore the balance of air throughout your home. This type of air balancing is essential in creating a comfortable environment in your home.
How is Air Balancing Achieved?
One of the simplest ways to achieve a proper balancing of the airflow in your home is to open and close the dampers on your supply registers until a more even heating and cooling pattern is established.
HVAC technicians open or close dampers according to how much airflow they’ve measured coming through them. Starting with all of the dampers open fully, an airflow capture hood or similar device is used to measure the amount of air the register is receiving and delivering to the room. Once this is established, dampers are closed or partially closed in rooms that are receiving airflow in excess of the required amount for the space being heated or cooled.
While the process sounds simple, it can be far from it. Registers that are located in hard-to-reach places or placed near crown molding or other fixed obstacles that prevent the proper fitting of the capture hood can make measurements difficult. It can also be difficult to measure lower airflow measurements.
Additionally, not all HVAC companies offer this service. However, it is worth asking your preferred professional or seeking out a reputable HVAC service company that is trained in providing you with the air balancing that can make your home far more comfortable for all. Many people who request repeated service visits to address this type of uneven heating and cooling could be eliminated by this air-balancing process being performed.
What Causes an Air Imbalance?
The culprit behind poorly balanced airflow in your home is likely not what you expect. It is common to assume the problem lies with your HVAC system, but that’s not always the case. The real problem may lie in your home’s structure with registers pumping the same amount of heat and air in small rooms as it is pumping into larger ones. Adjustments to the registers can usually fix this quite easily.
A bigger problem, however, might lie within your ductwork. The main damper may have been closed, excluding some of the registers in your home from receiving heat or air or minimizing the amount reaching them. If you have registers that lie before this damper, then they may be getting the full effect of your HVAC output, while those registers located beyond the main damper may be cut off. Opening this main damper will push the airflow back to where it should be and adjusting the registers can fix any further imbalances.
With the HVAC system removed from the problem, the technician will be able to focus on the air balancing needed to create a more comfortable environment. Rooms receiving too much air can have register openings reduced to not only limit the airflow into them but also to push some of the airflow back toward rooms that were lacking sufficient airflow.
While the application of this is quicker and more precise when measurements are taken before attempting air balancing, it is something that can be done without precise data. For instance, an experienced technician can visually determine that a room that is considerably larger and with a bay of windows may require more airflow than a small guest room with a single window. Though the adjustments to registers won’t be as precise, they can be made with enough accuracy to create an immediate improvement in the comfort level from room to room.
The Benefits of Air Balancing
The biggest benefit of air balancing is achieving comfort in your home. It is much preferred to be able to move from room to room without having to strip off a layer of clothing or put one on. If you find yourself sitting beneath a blanket while trying to work in your spare room turned office because the air conditioning keeps it freezing in there, you may see a reduction in productivity due to the room temperature’s effect on your body.
An improper balance of air can also create unnecessary costs for the homeowner. You may perceive a simple air imbalance as a problem with your HVAC system and incur unnecessary service calls or upgrade well before necessary. There is nothing worse than having an entirely new system installed only to find that you’ve solved nothing. While your HVAC installer should ensure that there is a proper air balance in your home before leaving, not all do. Be sure to ask if they perform this adjustment as a part of their installation process.
There is also the matter of extra laundering of blankets used to offset poorly warmed rooms and the cost of running space heaters to make up for the lack of proper heating. Additionally, space heaters can be a safety hazard if they are not well maintained or come into close contact with anything flammable. They are particularly dangerous in areas where children play or sleep, as they are not always as careful with their use as their adult counterparts.
All of these issues can be removed with a simple air-balancing visit from an experienced HVAC professional. If you are experiencing a situation such as what is described here, it might be time to make an appointment to assess your situation and take action to correct it.