As construction techniques have improved over the last several decades, home air pressure has become more and more of a prevalent issue for homeowners. From reduced indoor air quality to poor energy efficiency, negative air pressure is something no homeowner wants to deal with, but can be remedied with the help of an HVAC expert. Learning more about how air pressure can affect your home and your HVAC system is important for every homeowner.
We’ve created this guide to help you understand how air pressure is used in your Savannah, Georgia home and the potential issues that arise when this pressure is out of whack.
What Is Negative Air Pressure?
The air pressure in your home isn’t something that can be measured easily and many homeowners aren’t even aware that the pressure level in their home fluctuates. There are two main types of air pressure: positive and negative. They’re pretty easy to riddle out from their names: positive pressure is when there’s more air input than output while negative pressure is characterized by more output than input. While positive pressure is also important, negative air pressure is more common, especially for Savannah residents.
Essentially, negative air pressure is when there is less air flowing into your home than being drawn out. Negative air pressure is frequently used in hospital settings to help keep contaminant levels low, but it isn’t an intentional state for most homes.
Many HVAC units create negative pressure when they remove air from your home in order to adjust the temperature, but it should be simultaneously returning air to keep the levels balanced. Therefore, a certain amount of negative air pressure is to be expected, especially during hot months, but too much can lead to air quality issues as well as create problems with your actual HVAC unit.
Negative air pressure is most often occurring in newer construction. Homes that have fewer places that allow air in and out are more likely to have negative pressure. Leaks such as spaces around windows or between floorboards can work to relieve the pressure by letting in outside air. New homes are more tightly constructed and don’t have these leaks. While this is great for the home’s overall integrity and ease of climate control, it also means that it’s more susceptible to negative air pressure.
What Causes Negative Air Pressure?
Negative air pressure is caused by home components that manipulate air flow. The causes could be anything from clothes dryers to leaky ductwork to ventilation implements to household chores. Negative air pressure is caused by air being actively drawn from inside your home. Many of these components work by removing air. For example, a clothes dryer sucks air into it in order to work without releasing any air back, creating an imbalance.
The same functionality applies to ventilators and vacuums. Ventilators, such as stove hoods or bathroom fans, work by removing the unwanted air and piping it outside of your home without returning any air out. Their function is useful: no one wants a smoky kitchen or a permanently moist bathroom, but excessive use or a poorly calibrated system can lead to negative air pressure. Vacuums are a little rarer: your average cleaning vacuum shouldn’t affect your home’s overall pressure since it’s air intake is fairly minimal. However, larger central vacuums can absolutely unbalance your home’s air pressure.
Leaky ductwork is a little different. Many HVAC systems work by pulling air in from your home and cycling it through the system before re-releasing the temperature-controlled air back into your home. If you have leaky ductwork, air may not be returned correctly, leading to a reduced indoor air pressure.
What Are Some Signs of Negative Air Pressure?
Negative air pressure can present in a number of different ways. As previously stated, negative air pressure is a state of less air in a space in comparison to its natural volume. This means that air will start flowing in from other places, which leads to the most common indications of unbalanced pressure including doors feeling like they’re stuck or abnormally heavy, and doors that close or open on their own suddenly.
The movement of air is what causes the doors to move or feel stuck. You may also experience odd drafts that don’t seem connected to the air vents in the room and whistling or other odd noises.
Odd drafts and uneven room temperatures can kick your HVAC unit into gear as well, which can further the issue while also putting additional strain on your system. If your system has to kick in more often in order to try to overcome the symptoms of negative air pressure, it can end up drawing even more air out of the room.
Extra running can lead to additional wear and tear on your system. If you start to notice an increase in electricity bills due to longer running times or experience HVAC issues related to parts breaking prematurely, negative air pressure may be the culprit. Wi-Fi equipped smart thermostats can help you keep track of how long your HVAC unit runs and how often it kicks on, which may help you spot the problem before it becomes a major issue.
If you’re hearing noises, chances are air is rushing into your home from other areas to make up for the negative air pressure. Negative air pressure is a sort of vacuum, so air from the outside will try to make its way in to re-balance the overall pressure of the space. This means that you can get air in from the outside that hasn’t gone through filtration, meaning you may end up with higher levels of allergens or an extra-humid environment, which can lead to biological growths or other undesirable house issues.
How Can You Prevent Negative Air Pressure?
Luckily, negative air pressure is relatively easy to fix. Many times, it just requires a quick fix of the fans inside your home. The fans are what dictate the speed and amount of air that is removed from your home. If the fans are too quick in relation to the air return from your HVAC unit, you’ll end up with negative air pressure. This can be easily taken care of by a licensed professional.
If you’re the kind of homeowner who cranks the AC to winter temperature levels during the summer, you could be artificially creating a similar issue where your HVAC unit simply has to work too hard to get the air back in at the same rate it’s being removed to keep up with the selected temperature.
Negative air pressure can also be relieved by having your ductwork checked out. Professionals can measure the pressure throughout the ducts and locate leaks. These can typically be quickly fixed through patches or overall replacement. However, if the issue seems to be overwhelmingly present, they may recommend a complete replacement to prevent future issues. You may also want to consider a deep ductwork cleaning. Dust buildup can create issues with air flow that can influence air pressure and have negative effects on your home.
Extra ventilation may also help reduce the issue if it appears to be based on issues stemming from commonly used appliances like stove hoods or dryers. This can work by restoring the imbalance in the related home areas and therefore improving air quality and comfort. Plus, extra ventilation that’s controlled by your climate control system can reduce draw from the exterior of your home through cracks in insulation or weather stripping. This can help ensure that your home stays at the temperature your thermostat is set to while also reducing the influx of allergens and other air debris.
Negative air pressure can create many issues inside your home, from mechanical problems to increased levels of irritants and other undesirable air-borne particles. If you’re concerned about the air pressure level in your home and suspect that you may have negative air pressure related issues, the experts at Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning can help find the issue and get your home back to normal air pressure levels. Give us a call at 912-373-8447 to set up an appointment today!
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