Surprising Reasons Your HVAC System Might Not Be Working

System

For some homeowners, the first sign that their home’s HVAC system isn’t working properly are the extremes in temperatures. For others, the first sign of an issue is a steadily increasing electricity bill. Regardless of what tips you off to an issue, though, your first priority is likely to be fixing it.

But what causes the issues in the first place? In many cases, it’s poor maintenance; dirty air filters and condensers reduce efficiency, for example, or there is a leak keeping the refrigerant from working properly. But for every one of the common maintenance issues, there is a more surprising reason that your HVAC isn’t working as it should. If you have ruled out the easy fixes, hire a NJ HVAC contractor to explore whether one of these problems is the culprit.

Animal Activities

Rodents like mice and rats can fit into tiny spaces through openings as small as a dime, and they are always on the search for a warm, dry and safe place to live — and procreate. The air ducts to your HVAC check all of those boxes and are a common cause of problems with your system. Not only can mice cause damage to your system by chewing holes into ducts and tubing, they can also carry disease, the spores of which can be spread all over your home via blowing air. The potential for rodents to live in your HVAC system is one reason that regular inspections are necessary, to check for evidence of these critters and take steps to remove them.

However, it’s not just small animals that can affect your HVAC. As it turns out, your pets can also damage your HVAC system if they are allowed to urinate near the outdoor condenser unit. Dog and cat urine can actually dissolve the delicate aluminum fins on the unit that help direct heat away from your home. Replacing these fins costs just as much as replacing the entire unit, so keep Fido and Mittens away from the unit, and if you see evidence of it being used as a bathroom spot, hose down the unit as soon as possible to prevent corrosion over time.

Blown Fuses and Tripped Breakers

No fuse will last forever, and it’s no different with your HVAC system. This is another issue that can be addressed with regular professional maintenance, as a professional technician will check your fuses and replace them as needed, ensuring that you don’t blow a fuse at the worst possible time.

However, there are signs that a blown fuse is in your future, most commonly tripped circuit breakers. When your HVAC system has to work harder than usual, it’s likely that it will trip the circuit breaker as a failsafe to prevent more damage. Sometimes this can happen simply because the circuit is overloaded; perhaps you are running too many appliances at once on the same circuit, for instance. In the case of an HVAC system that keeps tripping the circuit breaker or blowing fuses, the problem is usually more serious and involves either an electrical problem in the unit itself or in most cases, blocked or clogged airflow caused by a dirty air filter, dirty coils, a duct leak or closed or blocked air registers.  A good cleaning and inspection can help solve these issues.

Home Design Issues

Sometimes, it’s not a mechanical problem with the HVAC system that’s the issue but the overall design the system and your home itself that keeps it from running efficiently and heating and cooling adequately. It might sound counterintuitive, but one of the most common reasons for HVAC trouble is that the unit is simply too big for the space. In the past, HVAC design operated under the principle of “bigger is better,” but when the unit has too much capacity it cannot work efficiently, leaving your rooms hotter or colder than you would like.

Not only are oversized units an issue, but if you have made any changes to the layout of your home since the HVAC was installed, that could affect results and efficiency as well. Knocking down a wall or two here and there or reconfiguring space can change how your HVAC functions. If you aren’t getting the results you expect, working with an HVAC expert can help identify the problems and determine the necessary changes.

Again, many HVAC problems are due to simple issues of maintenance, but sometimes the problem might be a little more complex. If you are having trouble with your heating and cooling and the basic fixes aren’t helping, it’s time to look into some of these less common problems.

Image Credits: System from Sergey D/Shutterstock