The architect or designer that drew the blueprints for your home did more than simply show the construction crews where to put walls, doors, and windows. There exists a page in the blueprint package of your home for the HVAC requirements. The way the internal ducts should be laid out, what size register should be put in each room, and other pertinent information regarding the recommended HVAC system for your home. On that page of the blueprints, each room is assigned a specific CFM number that refers to the air balancing requirements for your home.
Today we are going to take an in depth look at Air Balancing, this is what that CFM number is referring to. We will also take a look at why Air Balancing is just as important to maintain as is your HVAC system.
What is Air Balancing?
As we mentioned in the opening of this post, each room in your home was assigned a CFM number when it was conceptually drawn up on your blueprint package. CFM is an acronym for Cubic Feet per Minute and the CFM number is the amount of cubic feet of air from your HVAC system to maintain an even temperature throughout your home.
When the CFM is being met, according to the print, you will not notice any different temperatures in your home. If your CFM is being met your HVAC will operate more efficiently. If your CFM is being met you won’t have any ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ spots in your home, just a nice even temperature throughout.
When your home was originally constructed, and the new HVAC system installed, if the team that did the installation properly sized your unit to meet all CFM per room requirements, you shouldn’t have any Air Balancing problems. If the unit was not properly sized, that was the first step in an unbalanced air system. Which is what we will look at now, things that contribute to an unbalanced air flow.
What Causes Your Air Flow to Be Unbalanced?
Air Balancing is a wonderful thing if it is working properly. If you have an unbalanced airflow you will see some following signs:
- High Energy Bills. If your HVAC system is struggling to maintain a constant temperature throughout your home it may be running a bit more to compensate. This excessive use will render you some high energy expense month to month.
- Hot or Cold Spots. An unbalanced HVAC system will struggle to maintain a constant temperature throughout your home. You will notice some rooms being colder than others during the winter months, and some being hotter during the summer months.
- Insufficient Air Flow. The rooms that are the farthest ones from your HVAC system may have little to no air flow at the register. This definitely creates an unbalanced air situation.
Also, when your home was designed, there may exist certain rooms that have more than one exterior wall surrounding the room. For example, you may have a corner room that has two exterior walls and this room might be on the second floor above the garage. If the design of this room is not properly insulated to take into account for all the exterior walls, and floor, your HVAC will never be able to properly balance your air flow. This room will also need special ducting requirements to ensure proper air flow at the register. If any, or all of these items are not addressed, you will be experiencing an unbalanced air home.
How Can I Be Sure I Have an Air Balancing Problem?
If anything that you have read so far in this post sounds like what is going on with your HVAC system, you need to get your professional HVAC team out to your home for air balance testing.
In this test, the air balancing technician will take precise air flow readings at all registers, return vents, and any other place where air flow can be detected. Then based on the findings, the technician can begin explaining the process you will need to reach a perfectly balanced air system in your home. The registers, exhaust fans, grill, and fresh air all must balance for your HVAC system to operate at its maximum potential as far as economically speaking. Just one of these items ‘out of balance’ can cause large energy bills as well as an improperly operating HVAC system.
The Importance of Air Balancing
You have probably clued yourself in on the fact that Air Balancing is an important feature of your homes HVAC system and if properly balanced, your home will be more comfortable, and cost you less to operate than an unbalanced system that runs 50 minutes out of every hour.
Your HVAC team should be able to make the recommended solutions for your Air Balance issues and that is what we are going to look at now. Ways to improve your Air Balance.
How Can I Improve My Home’s Air Balance Issues?
Sometimes, air balance can be achieved by adding more vents to the room where the unbalanced air flow exists. That may fix the air balance issue in that room but still not address the issue within the HVAC system itself. For example, if you have one room out of three that has air balance issues, and you fix them by adding more air to the room the HVAC system is going to be working overtime to satisfy the temperature requirements for the home.
There are several issues at hand that can affect air balance, so there also exists several fixes that must be used in unison to achieve a proper air balanced home. Things like;
- Address the insulation package for each room that is out of balance and adjust accordingly. You may have to add quite a bit of insulation in those rooms with the many exterior walls and floors, so they can reach that ideal Air Balance.
- Look at the windows in the unbalanced rooms. You may need to upgrade those windows in the rooms that are most affected by Air Balance issues. The insulating quality of your windows should be addressed by the home's original builder and where those better windows were needed should have already been installed to satisfy the rooms CFM requirements.
- Properly sized ducts. Instead of just adding vents to increase airflow to a room, check into the duct size as well as the relationship of the location of this room in reference to the HVAC unit. Sometimes all a duct needs is to be reduced to increase the air flow to the affected room.
Hopefully now you understand a bit more about Air Balance and its importance.