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3 Reasons Your Home Has AC Hot Spots

Air conditioning during the summer can be a great relief, especially if you’re stuck inside. Central air conditioning systems offer the promise of efficient, easy-to-use, and low maintenance cooling, but what happens when your unit isn’t cooling consistently? If your home has hot spots, there are several possible causes, each with their own unique solutions.

1. Blocked Vents

Your home’s AC system uses two types of vents: supply and return. The return vents cycle air through the system, drawing your home’s warm air in to be filtered and cooled. Depending on the number of zones in your house, you may have more than one return vent. Supply vents provide fresh, conditioned air, and each room should contain at least one supply vent.

Blocking either type of vent can impact your system’s efficiency. By blocking a supply vent, you prevent air from entering that room. Not only does this keep that room from being cooled, but the blockage will also redirect air to other vents in the house. Blocking a return vent will not typically create hot spots, but it can overwork your system and cause other problems in the future.

Fixing a blocked vent is easy: check each vent and move any furniture or other objects out of the way. This one simple step may drastically improve the efficiency of your air conditioning system.

2. Zone Conflicts

If your home has more than one cooling zone, then conflicts between them may be at the heart of your issue. You should be able to separate each area relatively easily by closing doors or otherwise preventing the free flow of air. When cold air from one zone can reach the thermostat in another, it can cause the vents in that part of your home to close too early.

You may also find that your air conditioner runs continuously in one zone, despite frigid temperatures in each room. This effect can occur when conditioned air leaks into a neighboring zone, preventing the thermostat from ever reaching its target temperature. Poor thermostat placement, such as in a hallway that connects two zones, is a common cause of this problem.

Correcting a conflict between zones may be more difficult than moving some furniture. First, identify the problem. In some cases, you may be able to improve the situation by hanging a curtain or barrier to block airflow between zones. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, then you should consider adding smart thermostats with remote temperature sensors or moving your existing thermostats.

3. Duct Leakage

Anything that prevents conditioned air from reaching one or more rooms in your home can result in hot and cold spots. Although blocked vents are the most visible cause of this problem, duct leakage can be another potential issue. In most cases, you can trace duct leaks back to one of two problems: insufficient insulation or physical damage to the ductwork.

If your ducts run through an unconditioned space, then they will typically include integrated insulation to prevent loss to the surrounding air. Insufficient insulation adds heat load to the system, potentially causing some rooms to receive warmer air. Physical damage to the ductwork can also allow cold air to leak into the surrounding space before it can cool your rooms in your house.

If you suspect duct leakage, a trained HVAC professional can test your system to confirm the problem. Physical inspection of ducts located in an attic, basement, or crawl space may also sometimes be possible. Although leaky ductwork can often be expensive to repair, you will reap the benefits of lower energy bills and a more consistently cooled home.

Hot spots in a home with a central air conditioning system almost always mean trouble. If you cannot locate the underlying cause, then JR Putman Plumbing, Heating & Air can help. Give us a call today to ensure that your home stays consistently cool all summer long.

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