RealManage Insight

What is Home Air Balancing & Why is it Important?

by Annette Byrd, CMCA®, PCAM® on Dec 14, 2021 9:38:00 AM

Have you ever noticed a hot or cold spot in your home? Is the temperature in your upstairs different from the temperature in your downstairs? These are signs of poor ventilation in your home and are common in older homes. Some rooms receive excessive HVAC air pressure, while others do not. It's helpful to know that this isn't simply a sign that your ducts get poorly constructed. Indeed, vents get designed to be more precisely maintained using a service known as air balancing.

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You can make your home's air and temperature flow more evenly across the rooms. Few people know that air balance is an essential element of home upkeep. It entails managing airflow to each register so that no room consumes too much air and adjusting the air pressure to reach the farthest rooms via the ducts.

What is Air Balancing?

Air balancing is the practice of securing an even airflow of about 300 CFM from every vent register in the house. As a result, each room receives the same air pressure from the HVAC system. A home's airflow design will indicate the number of rooms and stretch of ducts between each outflow register - along with the central HVAC and intake register.

Air balancing adjusts the blower fan and restricts airflow to rooms with too much air. Using these methods, every vent and space in the house can have the same airflow.

How Air Balancing Works

The most critical factor in air balancing is the distance from the HVAC. Naturally, the air pressure reaches the closest rooms first, absorbing all the pressure for different spaces. The most intimate rooms get too much air pressure, while the farthest rooms have weak heat or cold air from the vents as a result. Air balancing makes use of five tools to improve the airflow and temperature control of a house:

  1. Blower fan power
  2. Volume Damper Plates
  3. Vent Registers
  4. Zone Control and Secondary Thermostats
  5. Insulation

Adjust Fan Speed

Your technician can adjust the HVAC fan speed up or down based on how much pressure you need. For example, you may need more power to reach the farthest rooms in the house or less energy if you're over-cooling without need. You may also need blower fan repairs or replacement if your fan has worn out over time and can't achieve the power necessary to reach the back rooms.

Room-to-Room Volume Dampers

Volume Dampers are sliding plates that fit into the duct. They can be adjusted to allow more or less air through, controlling the potential airflow lost to each vent. Volume dampers get used to limit airflow to the closest rooms so that conditioned air can reach the furthest rooms at sufficient pressure. If the CFM is not high enough in dampened rooms, the dampers can reopen.

Maintain the Intake Registers

Air balancing also involves the vents in each room. If the registers are dusty, clogged, or not correctly adjustable, they may be repaired or replaced. The proper logs ensure that air flows appropriately into each room and adjust if the airflow conditions change.

Zone Control and Thermostats

Zone control involves other thermostats and additional compressors to provide room-to-room air control. Secondary thermostats control the same central air system from multiple locations. Two-story homes use this method for central air conditioning. Zone control involves individually heating or cooling each room or zone of the house.

Home Insulation

HVAC technicians may also recommend that you improve your home's insulation. Often, a hot or cold room isn't just a matter of air balancing. It also relates to outdoor walls, sun exposure, and walls that do not contain the conditioned temperature. Improving your structural insulation (and window treatments) can also improve even temperatures throughout your house.

Why Air Balancing is Important

So, what makes air balancing so crucial for a home? It's not just about comfort; it's also about efficiency and cost-effectiveness. A home with the correct air balance will require less maintenance and cost a lower power bill to keep on during the year and changing seasons. There are three primary benefits to air balancing: simple good home maintenance.

Solve Hot or Cold Rooms

First and most noticeably, air balancing resolves the problem of hot or cold rooms as a result of poor airflow. Rooms with too much airflow and rooms with not enough will be balanced, along with the blower fan, to ensure every room gets just the right amount of air for even air pressure through the house.

Consistent Temperature Throughout the House

A consistent home temperature is part of the benefit of central air. You don't want to require warm clothes every time you go downstairs or overheat each time you relax in the living room. On the other hand, one freezing or sweltering room can be highly inconvenient. Air balancing resolves the discomforts and even potential risks of inconsistent home temperature.

Lower Your Electric Bill

Perhaps most importantly to homeowners, air balancing can also reduce your electric bill. A thermostat in a house with poor airflow often works harder than it needs to - or not enough. In addition, the location of the thermostat concerning nearby outflow vents will influence how warm it thinks the house is. With uneven airflow, the thermostat will often be wrong about heating or cooling.

After air-balancing, the thermostat should be accurate for the entire home's temperature, running the HVAC only when needed to maintain that temperature.

When to Have Your Home Air-Balanced

Not every home needs air balancing, but you'll become aware that your home needs to be air-balanced within the first year. One full round of the seasons will tell you if your house has hot and cold rooms. If you notice any significant temperature change in the interior spaces of your home or a difference in solid and weak airflow from your vents, your home should be air-balanced.

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