Here is how to deal with an AC or furnace not getting enough return air.
Return air is critical to HVAC systems because it maintains air pressure, temperature, and humidity, among other benefits.
However, you may notice reduced home efficiency, effectiveness, or air quality. Such problems often evolve due to blocked air ducts caused by dirty filters or leaking ducts.
But there are other resulting factors.
Not Enough Return Air Symptoms
When an air duct is blocked, the device will behave like breathing through a straw.
Such strain can cause heating and cooling units to work harder and more inefficiently. If left unattended, the entire system will break down.
This will call for either a new device or expensive repairs.
But don’t worry; we won’t allow your unit to get to that extent. This article will point out some symptoms of not having enough return air.
That way, you can arrest the issues before they get out of hand. We might also consider the causes of airflow problems and their solutions.
Let’s get started.
Symptoms of Not Enough Return Air
Here, we’ll outline some edible symptoms of not enough return air. This will assist you in diagnosing the problems with airflow in your HVAC system.
Uneven temperatures can be a clear sign of airflow problems in your unit. You will notice that some rooms feel warmer or colder than others.
Yet your device is running constantly. When rooms closer to the system are colder than those further away while running the device, it means there is insufficient return air.
Ideally, if an HVAC unit has enough return air, it will pump it back out to rooms further away.
In other words, the rooms at a distance will be colder than those closer to the system. Addressing temperature disparities can be tricky.
So contact your technician.
Weak or Reduced Air Coming from the Vents
There isn’t enough air coming through the supply vents? If yes, it could be a result of not having enough return air.
You can check for this symptom by putting your hand close to the vent. If you feel the amount of air coming through is weak or different than usual, it indicates returning air problems.
Another significant sign that there is not enough return air is imbalanced pressure. Such symptoms are often noticeable on doors and windows.
If the unit isn’t getting adequate return air, you’ll have distinct air pressure in the house. Rooms closer to the system will get more return air than those further away.
You’ll notice that outward-opening doors and windows will start opening themselves.
You can feel it physically when the air pressure difference gets so extreme. Sometimes, your ears might start to hurt, irrespective of the room you’re in.
Besides affecting your door’s movement, it causes several other issues. These include overheating and cooling, discomfort in the home, strange whistling noises, and noise bleeds.
Others have highly drafty rooms, chapped lips, and humid air that can attract mold; some rooms become hotter than others.
AC Blowing Warm Air
Air conditioners are typically designed to blow cool air when the environment is hot and vice versa. If your unit blows out hot air when set on cold,” It means there’s a problem lying somewhere.
In most cases, it’s due to not having enough return air. Such issues are to be fixed immediately to avoid further damage.
The furnace is Blowing Cool Air.
Just as insufficient return air can cause an AC to blow out warm air, the same reason can make a furnace blow out cold air.
When the initial air supply is poor because it’s not coming from the return air duct, the furnace may not heat up properly when putting it back into the house.
Reasons For The Problems Of Insufficient Return Air
Several frustrating elements can cause your unit to develop the problem of needing more return air. They include oversized or undersized units, clogged air filters, and accumulations of dirt and debris.
Others are low refrigerant levels, leaking ducts, blocked ducts, faulty thermostats, blocked vents, dirty coils, and more. Let’s quickly review a few of these resulting factors.
Technically, oversized HVAC systems have short cycles. In other words, they can turn on and off at close intervals. Over time, it will result in excessive wear and tear.
Your device will not be able to move enough air. When this happens, you’ll have the problem of not having enough return air.
Similarly, units that are too small will have to work harder in a larger space. This can cause the capacitor to get hot unnecessarily.
As usual, your device will take a little while to break down. Before you purchase an AC or furnace, ensure you consult with your technician.
Clogged Air Filters
Air filters are built to keep the air in your home clean. If you ignore regular cleanup for a while, your unit can be a victim of a clogged air filter.
It can accommodate pollen, dust, pet hair, and other pollutants. If this dirt is left unattended, it can block the airflow and leave your home with weak airflow or temperature disparities.
Blocked or Leaking Return Air Duct
Ductwork is typically designed to send cool air to the rest of your space. When your ductwork is covered with dust and other dirt, it can cause your unit to lack enough return air.
The same event can occur if the ductwork has holes or cracks. It’ll make it harder for air to flow through the system.
Moreover, leaking ducts can impact your home’s air quality by sucking up dirt and other pollutants. You can identify a blocked duct by a distinct heating and cooling efficiency drop.
It can also cause increased energy costs and a musty and dusty smell throughout your home. To alleviate this by taking significant steps promptly.
A problematic thermostat can also cause your system to experience insufficient return air.
Your thermostat may stop functioning if there’s a lost connection, it is not calibrating correctly, or it has developed malfunctions.
To resolve the problem, you’ll first check the batteries to see if they’re correctly connected. Also, check for dust and debris. They can also cause such issues.
Several factors can cause your unit to need more return air than those listed above. Time isn’t with us to digest them all.
However, you can see some signs of insufficient return air and their causes. If your system is experiencing any of these defects, don’t hesitate to call an HVAC-licensed and qualified technician.