Why There Is Very Little Air Coming out of Vents in Your House

Those of us that grew up in the 70s and 80s remember it nostalgically as a time when music and entertainment were at their best and kids could play in the street until dinner time without supervision. It was a time when, if you wanted to talk to someone, you had to either use your landline or find a pay phone, and email wasn’t even a thing yet. The economy was also booming, and cities like Sacramento saw their populations grow by almost half a million during this era. All those new families moving in meant a lot of speedy construction without a lot of attention to detail.

While this was a great time to grow up in Sacramento, homes hurriedly built to meet the population demand tended to have issues like poor airflow. While not an obvious problem to most new homeowners, over time, poor airflow can cause issues for your heating and cooling system—and even cause health problems for your family. That’s why, if you own or intend to buy a home built during these decades, it’s important to identify the signs of poor airflow so you can figure out why there is very little air coming out of vents in your house.

What Very Little Air Coming out of Vents Means for Your House

poor airflow from vents SacramentoPoor airflow reminds me a lot of having a cold. You have a hard time getting enough air to breath because of congestion. An HVAC system that has poor airflow will make it difficult to get fresh conditioned air to each room, overwork your unit, and make it difficult to heat or cool your home. Specifically, the reasons why poor airflow in your Sacramento home is bad for you and your family are:

  • HVAC unit overworked: Poor airflow from dirty filters and incorrectly sized ductwork can cause static pressure to be too high or too low, forcing the blower to work overtime. This often causes your unit to run longer at a higher voltage, causing more wear and tear that eventually will break your unit down prematurely.
  • Heat loss: In the winter, poor airflow from leaky ductwork can mean less warm air is getting to the rooms of your home. Poorly designed ductwork can also leave the rooms furthest from your heating system cold if there isn’t enough pressure in the ductwork to send the air there.
  • Health problems: Many of the houses built during the 70s and 80s were built to prevent outside air from coming inside the home, the thinking being that it would help keep air cleaner. Since then, studies have concluded that the recycled air in homes is actually more contaminated because pollutants get trapped and cycle again and again throughout the home. With no way to escape, things like pollen, dust, and dander build up, making people sick, as there is no way to allergy-proof your home.

 Why Sacramento Homes Built in the 1970s or 80s Have Poor Airflow

Poor airflow is like a slowly flowing shower. There is still water coming out of it, but there’s not enough pressure to wash the suds out of your hair. If your home has poor airflow, it’s still being heated and cooled, but probably not enough to meet the temperature set on your thermostat. Unfortunately, low airflow from vents in houses built in Sacrament during the 1970s and 80s is a fairly common problem because of:

  • Poorly designed ductwork: Much of the ductwork installed during this time period was forced air systems that consisted of rigid duct wrapped in insulation. It was often not sealed well, leaving them susceptible to leaks. Leaks in ductwork reduce the pressure in the system, causing poor airflow and air balance to rooms.
  • Inefficient HVAC units: If your home still has the same unit it did when it was built, it likely will not meet the energy code requirements for efficiency. And an old, inefficient unit works harder while providing less air to the rooms of your home. Clogged air filters can restrict airflow and the fan motor is likely working twice as hard, but providing only a nominal amount of air.
  • Poor maintenance: Lack of maintenance over the years can play a huge factor in how well your cooling and heating system delivers air. Since homes built in the 70s were designed to allow less outside air in, more of the air in these homes is being recycled. More pollutants, dust, pet dander, and other contaminants are therefore clogging up the filter and other components in your air conditioner. That’s why it’s important to have a yearly maintenance check to make sure your entire HVAC system is in good shape, especially if it’s showing signs of age.

How to Fix Poor Airflow in Your Sacramento Home

Many homes in Sacramento were built during this time of population growth, which means that more than a few of us have very little air coming out of the vents in our houses. The goods news is that, with a little effort, the problem can be corrected. A trusted HVAC professional can inspect your home and provide recommendations to fix basic airflow issues. Steps to take to solve the problem of very little air coming out of vents in your house are:

  • Have your ductwork inspected: If your duct system is as old as your home, it needs to be inspected. Outdated ductwork materials should be replaced to prevent the spread of mold and other airborne respiratory irritants. They should also be inspected for leaks or other damage that could be causing low airflow.
  • Have your ducts balanced: Ductwork should also be rebalanced, which means having a professional verify that the dampers in the ductwork are adjusted so that the rooms farthest from the unit are getting as much airflow as rooms closest to it. This is especially important if your home has been remodeled or your HVAC system has been replaced and updated.
  • Have your HVAC unit serviced: If your home was built during the 70s or 80s, your unit was likely sized according to a former rule of thumb and may be the wrong size to meet airflow demands. Additionally, an aging unit can have dirty filters and components. Both the size and the condition of your unit can affect how much airflow makes it to the rooms in your home, which is why it’s important to use an annual AC preventative maintenance checklist.

While the 70s and 80s were definitely a time of rapid change and growth for Sacramento, it’s obvious that it’s changed even more over the last few decades. Music, industry, architecture, and technology especially have changed rapidly since then. While I might argue that the music was definitely better back then, it’s a lot harder to say that HVAC systems haven’t changed for the better; the years have definitely taught those of us in the industry a lot about how our heating and cooling systems work.

If the airflow in your Sacramento home seems poor, it’s likely that your HVAC unit needs maintenance—and a modern upgrade. Otherwise, you could be experiencing problems keeping your home cool or warm, receiving higher electric bills, and experiencing indoor air quality problems. When it comes to heating and cooling your home, it’s definitely time to move forward from the past into the cooler, more efficient future.

Don’t settle for very little air coming out of your home’s vents. Contact Bell Brothers to find out about our 30 point yearly HVAC inspections and get pricing for a new unit.

Image courtesy Unsplash user Breather