You’ve all seen it. You likely have one. The cluttered unused guestroom down the hall. Boxes of Christmas decorations pack the closet, Mom’s arts and crafts bins are piled up in the corner. You tell yourself the room would make an awesome office, but it’s so darn chilly. Don’t let it go to waste. You could recoup the cost of the unused room by air balance.
Here’s the deal: cold spots are a nuisance for you and your family, robbing you of square footage your hard work paid for. But don’t despair, as air balancing your HVAC system can fix that! Air balancing requires testing, engineering calculations, adjusting, and often times ductwork modification or repair, so it’s no walk in the park for your average HVAC contractor. In fact, most residential HVAC contractors don’t even offer air balance. It takes a good, qualified HVAC contractor like our team here at SuperTech HVAC to get the job done right.
And while the task may seem dauting, air balancing will help you in all sorts of ways. In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about air balancing so you can sleep better at night.
Is There Uneven Air In Your Rooms? Call Us Now To Balance It!
What Is Air Balancing?
As the name implies, air balancing refers to the process of optimizing airflow through your HVAC system to maintain the desired temperature evenly throughout your home.
When Do You Need To Balance Your HVAC System?
You Have Inconsistent Heating And Cooling
Believe it or not, imbalanced air in your HVAC system is the number one reason you experience temperature inconsistency in your house. Good design and installation of your ductwork, among other things, is the best way to prevent imbalanced air. And if one room is abnormally cold and hot, the problem is likely widespread across the whole house, only less obvious.
This is the ugly truth about air ducts – poor airduct design and installation practices emerged in the residential sector from the 1970s, when mass production of fast and cheap ruled. To read more about air ducts, see our blog on duct disinfecting and our homeowner's guide to HVAC ductwork.
Here’s the scoop: when struggling with hot and cold spots, the quick fix is to crank the heat or AC. Don’t. It will lead to bigger problems, like the premature death of your HVAC unit and sky-high energy bills.
You Have Undersized Return Vents
Check this out: supply and return vents are like the arteries and veins inside your body, supplying fresh air to your rooms and returning the used air back to the HVAC system. Your HVAC system should have the right number of supply and return vents to regulate the ins and outs of air. If not, it will make it much more likely that bio-growth develops on your system and leads to a musty smell.
We won't lie to you: this is rarely the case, as builders will often opt to install one large central return to save on costs. This ill-advised shortcut can end up costing you thousands in surplus electricity charges per year.
Now, just to be clear, one central return works if the doors inside your home are open all the time. But close the bedroom doors at night and you’ll starve the return and create a negative pressure environment, which sucks the outside air through little fissures and cracks. The unfiltered air can carry allergens and other unwelcomed particulates, tainting the overall air quality while deregulating temperature. This forces your HVAC unit to work double time, leading to higher energy bills.
You may be thinking, "okay, so my HVAC system needs air balancing. But how?" This is where the real HVAC experts come in. Attempt what follows without the assistance of a trained professional and you’ll do more harm than good.
How To Balance A Forced Air Heating System?
To ensure your HVAC is delivering the right amount of air equally throughout a house or commercial location, a certified air flow technician should:
- Determine the system’s tonnage or heating output, which gives them the required total system airflow.
- By using complex engineering calculations, allocate that number among the total number of rooms based on room size, location, fixtures in the room, etc.. That will give them the airflow in each room.
- Examine the design of the building to better understand the placement of each room and the path the air takes.
- Inspect and start the HVAC system to ensure it runs at optimal efficiency.
- Take the delivered airflow readings using specialized equipment – first for the whole system, and then for each room in the house to compare it with the required airflow calculations and see if there are discrepancies.
Once the discrepancies are uncovered, they can go about fixing them using the air balance method. Some of you DIY-ers might be thinking, "hey, I can do this myself." But that ain’t the hard part. Read on to see how the pros can help you get the most from your HVAC system.
How To Increase Air Flow Through Air Ducts Using An HVAC Damper
Alright, so how do seasoned HVAC technicians increase or decrease the airflow in your house to achieve perfect harmony? They:
- Alter the system’s blower fan speed to increase or decrease total airflow output.
- Inspect the ductwork for damage or weakness. Duct design problems and/or installation problems are the number one reason why the air is not balanced in residential homes.
- Add or remove supply and return ducts to deliver enough air to each room.
- Seal or insulate accessible under-insulated ducts.
- Add dampers to the ducts. This directs the airflow coming from the HVAC unit and shifts the desired amount to each room. Some ducts are already equipped with dampers and can simply be adjusted.
- Modify the settings of the air cleaner/filtration unit
Once those boxes are checked, your air is balanced. Now, you’re probably wondering, "how much will this set me back?" Keep reading to find out.
How Much Does Air Balancing Cost?
The truth is that an air balance is a lot more complicated than, say, an air duct cleaning. That’s because air balancing is more complex, requires more time, labor, and specialized equipment.
The average cost of an air balancing appointment depends on things like accessibility and size of the duct openings and can range anywhere from $75-150 per opening. Furthermore, this doesn’t include adding or removing ducts, or sealing and insulating them. Let’s say your house has one exhaust fan, one outside air intake, nine supply openings, and one return opening. A certified air balance such as this would cost you anywhere from $900 to $2000. And that may sound like a lot, but it’s well worth the investment.
What You'll Gain From Air Balancing
This may not come as a surprise, but air balancing your home has many benefits. Here are the major advantages:
Obvious, yes, but this is the most important reason. As explained earlier, air balancing ensures the consistent flow of air into every room inside a building. This means you can turn that unused spare bedroom into the home office of your dreams.
To be comfortable inside your home, the temperatures of your rooms should be consistent with the settings on the thermostat. Air balancing delivers the optimal amount of airflow in and out of those rooms, ensuring your loved ones aren’t too hot or too cold.
Better Air Quality
A balanced HVAC system helps protect against the unexpected inflow of outdoor air, which often carries allergies and impurities with it. A properly sealed building safeguards the filtered air inside of it, which is just as important for your health as filtering the water you drink.
Increased Energy Efficiency
An optimized HVAC system means balanced airflow throughout your home. When even temperatures are easily maintained, HVAC systems do not have to over-exert themselves by running for long periods of time, saving you money while simultaneously saving the earth.
Longer HVAC Lifespan
HVAC units don’t have it easy. They work against the extremes in hot and cold weather, and the harsh temperatures take a toll on them. To keep your HVAC system in good shape, making sure you air is balanced should be a top priority.
Can't Stand The Pain Of Poor Air? SuperTech Will Make It Better!
Call Your Local HVAC Professional To Handle Your Air Balancing
The ugly truth is that unbalanced air strains your HVAC system. It wears itself down by running for extended hours, costing you money and leading to increased repair and replacement costs over time.
So, there you have it – air balancing saves your HVAC system while saving you money. A good HVAC company will work with you to properly assess your needs and provide you with an affordable, long-lasting solution so you can enjoy the time you spend at home with your family.
If you live in the Baltimore metro area and want help with your HVAC system – reach out to our team here at the area's top heating and cooling company and speak to one of our certified air-balancing experts for any of your HVAC system needs. We’re experienced, we’re reliable, and we’ve always got you covered!