Are Defects in your Heating and Cooling System Leaving You Uncomfortable?

Heating and Cooling Systems are supposed to keep us warm and toasty in heating season and cool and cozy in the cooling season. Yet you are not as cozy as you wish or you have some other good reason to find this webpage. We want to figure out if defective components are crippling the performance of your HVAC system.

Lets look at some symptoms that might hint at trouble.

  • Are you feeling too hot or too cold in a portion of the house?
  • Is your home feeling muggy and uncomfortable?
  • Does it smell of mildew or mold? a hint of an unwanted odor?
  • Are you just less comfortable in some sections of the house?
  • do you have surfaces where condensation collects?

Your HVAC system plays two critical roles.

First, it deals with temperature issues- it keeps you properly warm in the heating season and cool and comfortable in the cooling season; but secondly, the HVAC also must handle moisture and humidity issues in your home.

North Texas is a  humid climate in August. When hot humid outside air leaks into your home in the cooling season, the humidity in your home goes up and presents a challenge to your HVAC system. If your HVAC system is not working effectively, you have a humidity problem. Humidity issues allow mold and mildew to flourish. We get some perspective on the climate and humidity here.

Structural issues- air leaks, insulation, solar heat gain- impact your comfort levels and the health of your home.

Structural issues impact how well you HVAC system is able to provide comfort for you.  Air leakage rates, insulation levels, thermal bridging, and solar gain all impact the comfort of your home as well as dictate the amount of moisture you have in your home,  Humidity is a critical factor in how healthy your home is for people and pets. Make sure you see the webpage on structural issues that impact your  comfort and the quality of the air you breathe at home.

What kinds of mechanical issues contribute to comfort problems? We will break this conversation up into two critical portions

  • the air handler and heat pump portion of your split system- and
  • the ductwork which distributes the conditioned air around the house.

To clarify what type of mechanical system we are describing here,

This webpage describes a centrally located air handler in the house, with a split system containing a heat pump out of doors and an array of ducts and duct vents to deliver the conditioned air around the house. If you have grills in the floor or ceiling and air comes out of them- warm in the winter and cool in the summer, well- you have ducted, conditioned air to make your home comfortable.

Need orientation around the components of your HVAC system?

 You may need some help with terminology and orientation of HVAC components .Here is an outline and description of the components of a centralized heating and cooling system.

Your duct system plays a Crucial role in how well your HVAC keeps you comfortable and your air healthy.  Let’s make sure you understand your HVAC duct system. 

We need to look at the Impact of Air Handlers and Mechanical Equipment on Home Comfort

A bigger Air Conditioner- more tonnage of cooling- is not better.

Bigger is better we think. Not always. A too big AC is a self inflicted wound. People talk about more cooling tonnage as if they are talking about fast cars. “I need more cooling power.” We discuss this issue in detail here.

Let’s discuss the general features of an HVAC Central Unit System so you can better understand how they impact your comfort.

The standard A/C runs at one speed full blast. New more expensive models run at varying speeds to match the load, and these are very useful and energy efficient. But the vast majority of cooling or heating units just turn on, and go.

 

Some Perspective on why our HVAC systems are having problems.

In the vast majority of homes built, the HVAC system starts out disadvantaged. The heating and cooling system is often not working well right from the start- works OK in an empty house for sale but cannot really handle moisture well that is generated by human activities.  Over time, the inadequacies grow. Cold returns get blocked. Someone monkeying in the attic crushes a duct. Vibrating ducts begin to leak worse…

Subtle and not so subtle changes can begin to develop. The small edge the system has to handle extreme temperature strain and high moisture loads can deteriorate over time.  Diminished capacity of the HVAC system might result in high humidity in areas of the home. The results can be problems with mold and mildew and musty odors developing from scratch over time. You get a growing hint of the problem as the unwanted flora and fauna flourishes.

At some time you notice but it is easy to overlook the root issues and treat symptoms. We want to understand the underlying issues with mechanical systems because true solutions must deal with root causes.

 

Self Inflicted Wounds – some of our HVAC problems are created by us.

It is important to stop right here and reflect a bit. You might never suspect such a thing,  but people ignore their mechanical systems for long periods. You know how time seems to fly by….

There are two critical aspects to this issue. Filters do not get changed on the right schedule and this can be a health issue as well as can speed up equipment fialure. But the modern HVAC system is a sophisticated mix of hard working components that need to be clean and in proper working order othe system works poorly. All the issues above are made worse as system performance degraded due to the lack of  proper maintentance. This is expensive. You are not saving money by ignoring your heating and cooling equipment. You car needs regular oil changes- your HVAC system needs regular attention. When was the last time your fliters have been changed? When was the last time your HVAC system has been inspected and serviced? When hot comes you need the cooling system in shape and ready to keep you cool.

Your mechanical equipment needs regular attention. If your system is not getting proper maintenance, issues you are sensing might just be self inflicted. Lack of maintenance causes systems to first work poorly and then the lack of maintenance destroys your investment. We explore maintenance issues here… -LINK –

[I have a filtration document around too, that ties into a healthy home and home ventilation…. these need to link here. ]

We already mentioned issues with return air systems… know your path to return air and keep them open- at least not obstructed until you decide what needs to be done in your home to create better return air circulation.

Make sure your supply vents are not covered up or closed. Closing supply vents is bad news all around. Here is why. You need to know where your supply vents are. They might be in the floor and they might be behind the magazine rack or hindered by some other obstruction. it is essential that this kind of thing is prevented, and it relies on you, because HVAC service companies are looth to wandering around your house and inspecting how you are using your HVAC. They don’t want to do it because it would make you feel intruded upon and they do not want that.

Are your fans around the house working properly?

There are other critical fans in the house which are critical in how your home and your heating and air conditioning sytem is able to handle moisture. Bathroom fans to handle the moisture cloud from showering humid bodies. Fans in the kitchen to remove moisture and remove cooking odors… these are critical issues and are discussed here. These simple devices poorly executed can create moisture problems- problemes with mold and mildew and musty odors- even with a properly designed and working HVAC system. We explore hese issues here.

So where do we go from here?

What did you discover? What needs further looking into. What did you find that was wrong or suspicious? Here we discuss finding the right help with a comfort issue. Feel free to add our thoughts below or tell us about your own experiences.

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