Your HVAC system can get clogged in two primary areas: the air duct vents and the condensate drain. However, the symptoms of each can be the same, so you might have to do a little exploration to find the source of the problem.
Sometimes when you have central heating and cooling, one room can feel hotter or colder than the rest. Uneven temperatures can be a telltale sign of a clog. If a room can’t achieve the set temperature, your HVAC system will go above and beyond trying to resolve the problem — ultimately wearing down machinery and shortening the life of the system.
Worse, blockages can reduce a home’s air quality, causing potentially serious health risks. This is especially dangerous if anyone in the home has severe allergies or asthma.
If you have a blocked vent, you might be able to tell just by taking a peek. If a piece of furniture is covering a vent, if you see a lot of dust in the vents or if someone has stashed an item in there (kids and pets are common culprits), the fix is easy to handle yourself.
A Dirty Job
Severely clogged air filters can also cause blockages. Your HVAC system’s manufacturer or your local HVAC technician will be able to tell you how often to change your filter. However, every one to two months is common.
Damaged ductwork can lead to clogs. Check for loose seams or any holes in the ductwork. Ducts can get disconnected relatively easily, especially flex ducts, since they’re designed to move. It might not take more than some duct tape to fix, but if that doesn’t work, you might need to replace the ducts.
If your zone dampers got closed accidentally, opening them can solve all your problems. If they’re all open and all else looks well, you might have a block deep in the duct, in which case you’ll need an HVAC tech. Physical objects in the ducts, such as insulation or even pests, can wreak havoc on the system and be invisible to the average homeowner.
Keeping Your Cool
Your AC condensate drain is also prone to getting clogged, which can cause leaking in the entire system. The drain moves condensation from the drip pan to the outside.
This water isn’t always clean, and dirt can clog the drain. Changing your air filter regularly can help prevent this, as can a higher-efficiency air filter. Ensuring your HVAC system is routinely inspected and maintained by a professional will also help keep you in the clear — literally — with fewer clogs, better airflow and less moisture.
If you suspect a clog in your system, or you simply want to go into 2016 with more peace of mind, make January the month you schedule that much-needed HVAC inspection with Sandy Heating & Air Conditioning.