It’s mid-July – officially the middle of summer, and we’ve had it all: unbearable humidity, crazy freak thunderstorms and, of course, sweltering 90+ degree temperatures. It’s times like these when people all around Baltimore, Maryland are thankful for their air conditioners – or are being driven crazy by air conditioners that don’t work! If your air conditioner has weak airflow, there are a number of different things that could be wrong with it – some are easy fixes, some require the help of a professional.
Ways to Improve AC Airflow
Replace your filters monthly – you’ve probably heard this one so many times that it seems cliché – yeah, yeah, change the filters, got it. But there’s a reason why people say it so much – because it’s so important! As air moves through the AC system and the ducts, it picks up all sorts of dust and debris. The purpose of the filters is to catch this dust and debris so you’re not breathing it in every day.
No matter how clean you keep your house, there’s always going to be a ton of junk that gets into your air – those filters are going to fill up fast, and as they do the collected dust and debris is going to block the airflow. If you don’t change your filters every month, they will become so clogged that air is simply not going to be able to flow.
Changing your filters every month has another, equally important benefit – over time, weak airflow can actually cause your air conditioner to freeze. Changing your filters will prevent this and keep your AC going strong all summer long.
Check your AC dampers – if you’re experiencing weak AC airflow in only one or two rooms, the problem might be that one or more of your AC dampers are closed. Never seen your AC dampers? That’s ok – you’re not supposed to need to touch them, so you don’t necessarily need to know where they are.
AC dampers can be thought of as valves in your ductwork – when they are open, air will flow freely. When they’re closed, you’ll have weak AC airflow, if any at all. To check them, go into your HVAC closet and look for the plenum (for the uninitiated, the plenum looks like a big metal box). There should be a bunch of ducts connected to it, all with levers that are supposed to be in the ON position – these levers are your dampers.
If any of the dampers are in the OFF position, turn them back ON – your weak AC airflow problems should go away immediately.
Change your air filters – and we don’t mean monthly this time. There are about 10 million different varieties of air filters, and when you go to the hardware store to pick up new ones you’re supposed to just know which is which. What no one ever tells you is that the type of air filter you buy can have a significant impact on your airflow!
Every air filter is rated with a MERV rating, which indicates how strong the filtration is. The higher the MERV rating, the higher the filtration:
- MERV 1 – 4: most residential filters are rated between 1 and 4. These filters do a pretty good job of filtering particles out of the air, trapping dust and debris as small as 10 microns.
- MERV 5 – 8: usually used in office or light commercial buildings, but sometimes found in homes where people want extra clean air. MERV 5 – 8 filters trap particles as small as 3 microns in size. This filtration comes at a price – since it has to work harder to move through the filter, homes with these filters may have weak AC airflow.
- MERV 9 – 12: you probably won’t ever see filters rated this high in someone’s home, unless homeowners need to have as much dust control as possible. If you have filters that are this strong, it is crucially important that you replace them frequently – even when clean they will cause weak AC airflow, and they will fill up extremely quickly.
- MERV 13 – 16: air filters that are this powerful are pretty much exclusively used in sterile environments like hospitals. They will stop particles as small as .3 microns, meaning they will definitely cause weak airflow if installed in your home.
Seal up leaky ducts – no one really expects to have leaky air ducts – usually you just figure that if you’re getting any air at all, your ducts are probably good. But leaky air ducts are more common than you might think – in fact, they’re among the leading causes of weak AC airflow! If you think you have leaky ducts, call an HVAC contractor for an inspection – duct sealing will improve weak AC airflow, making you more comfortable and saving you as much as 30% on your heating and air conditioning bills!
Resize your ducts: if you’ve been trying to improve your weak AC airflow and nothing seems to be working, the problem might be that your ducts are just too small. Call an HVAC contractor to inspect your ducts and assess if they are the proper size – if they are not, installing new ductwork will go a long way toward improving weak AC airflow.
If weak AC airflow is making your summer miserable, call All Seasons Heating & Cooling today! We can examine your AC system and improve your AC airflow in no time!