Any experienced HVAC specialist will have encountered a wide variety of HVAC problems during their career. Every now and again, they may encounter something truly unusual, but most of the time, it’s a variance on something they have seen many times before. In this article, we will look at three of the most common HVAC problems we encounter on a regular basis.
- High Pitched Noises in the Air Vents
Every air vent is a supply register, including floor vents, return grilles, and ceiling diffusers. Under normal operating procedures, when the blower fan is running, they will make some minor noises. But, if you experience loud or high pitched noises, there may be a problem to investigate. The most common noise sounds like a tuning fork being struck or a high pitched whine coming from the return vents.
This can be caused by a lack of return air. If the system needs more air, the air pressure can drop quickly, and the velocity increases, making the noise louder. If more return air is added, the pressure drop is minimized, and the HVAC system doesn’t need to compensate, making the noise disappear. A lack of return air can be caused by poorly installed or undersized ductwork. Another common cause is a clogged air filter that anyone can check and clean.
Sometimes this problem occurs because too many air vents are closed, and this is a real problem. Any HVAC system relies on a certain level of airflow to move the treated air and to keep the equipment running efficiently. When the air vents are closed or blocked by furniture, drapes, and other items, the air pressure in the system is increased. This will increase the noise levels and the workload on the equipment leading to more frequent repairs or even a failure.
Another common vent noise issue is flapping or rattling sounds coming from the ductwork. The usual culprit is some debris in the ductwork, such as a loose screw, a lost toy, a flap of plastic, dirty, dust, and other materials. A local HVAC technician will be able to locate and remove these items as part of a duct cleaning service. This will get rid of the noise, and sanitizing the internal duct surfaces will make your home smell fresh and clean.
- A Clogged Air Filter
If you’ve noticed a lack of airflow from your vents, it could be caused by a clogged air filter. Every manufacturer has recommendations on how and when to change the air filter in their HVAC systems. This information is included in the owner’s manual, and if you have misplaced your copy, you can usually locate a pdf version online.
Every HVAC system needs to have an adequate supply of air to work correctly. The air is blown throughout the home to deliver the treated air to each room. But, if the airflow is diminished, it can lead to uneven heating and cooling issues. In extreme cases, it can promote dampness, mold growth, and other problems that can lower the indoor air quality (IAQ).
Another important aspect of airflow restriction is the strain that it places on your heating and cooling equipment. When the HVAC system cannot move enough air to reach the desired temperature set on your thermostat, it will attempt to compensate. So, your HVAC system will work harder, and this can lead to component failure and even a premature replacement. A clean air filter will prevent dirt and debris gathered in the air from reaching the sensitive components in your system.
A clogged air filter is very easy to fix. Take out the air filter and clean it. If you have a system that uses replaceable filters, simply place a new one in its place, and you’re ready to go. But, you must make sure that you use the correct air filters, or the air may go around the outer edge of the unit. The air filter model is usually found on the rim, or you can just take the filter to the store and match it there. If you shop around online, you can get good deals on air filters if you shop in bulk quantities. It’s a good idea to change the air filter every month or more often if you have pets in your home.
- Puddles of Water Under the HVAC Unit
Many people don’t know that their AC system removes heat and condensation from their homes. This excess moisture removal is necessary to prevent a buildup of humidity in the home. In very humid areas, an additional dehumidifier may be required, but in most locations, the AC system is sufficient. This excess moisture is collected in a drain pan, which has a drain line that connects to the drain outside the home.
As the air is circulated throughout the home, it gathers up dirt, debris, and other material. Some of this makes its way into the drain pan, where it mixes with the collected moisture and forms a clog of sticky dirt where mold can grow. If this clog enters the drain line, it can become stuck and prevent the efficient draining of water. When the water has nowhere to go, it can back up into the drain pan, which will overflow. This is why you many find a puddle under the drain pan, and over time, you may even have water damage.
In some cases, it is possible to clear the drain line with a cup of vinegar followed by flushing with a gallon of clean water. If the clog is persistent or you are not confident working with HVAC systems, it’s time to call a local HVAC specialist to help. Checking the drain line is part of an annual HVAC service, and we recommend servicing at the start of each heating and cooling season.
Contacting an HVAC Specialist
If you have encountered any of these or any other HVAC problems and you cannot fix them yourself call a local HVAC specialist for expert help. They have the training, experience, and specialized tools to locate the source of the problem and fix it quickly.