HVAC Dampers: Controlling The Airflow on Your HVAC System

As long as your HVAC system is operating correctly, you probably won’t need to concern yourself about what a damper is, how it works, and how actuators make them control the flow of cold or hot air across your home.

HVAC technician working on a mini-split condensing unit

When it’s time to replace certain parts, like dampers and actuators, it pays to know what they are and what they’re used for. Let’s now discuss how the HVAC damper controls the airflow of your HVAC system.

The HVAC Actuator, Damper, and Other Related Subjects

Dampers, along with their actuators, help make a home or office much comfier by keeping the temperature just right at all times.

  • What is a Damper in HVAC Terms? A damper in HVAC terms refers to duct dampers or movable plates moved by actuators—devices that convert energy like electricity to motion—in order to help regulate or make consistent the temperature of your home, office, or building with an HVAC system and duct work installed.
  • Movable Plates That Move Air Around: To ensure the stream of cold air from the A/C or hot air from the heater goes through your ventilation in a regulated and consistent manner, the plates move and adjust accordingly. The dampers control the airflow to specific parts of the building to make hotter rooms colder or colder rooms hotter as needed.
  • Cooling Regulators: There are many parts of the HVAC system that can be considered “cooling regulators”, but in the case of dampers, they dampen or release the cold air to regulate the cooling or heating of any given area or room, usually by cooling zones.
  • Ensures Efficient HVAC Operation: In order to keep your HVAC system from overworking its heater or A/C from making things hotter or colder consistently, the dampers and the ventilation system mostly work in tandem to prevent the units from running constantly. Once it heats or cools the air, they can use and distribute that hotness or coldness across the home.
  • Inconsistency in Temperatures: You might want to know what a damper is once you find that in your home, it’s much colder downstairs or warmer upstairs. It’s especially important to put a damper on your ignorance about dampers whenever some rooms have differing temperatures. Your damper or actuator might be busted in such cases.
  • Control Airflow: You can close or open HVAC dampers like you would the vents of your ventilation system to control airflow coming from the duct work. Or you can have a programmable or smart HVAC control the airflow for you automatically until you decide to do a manual override.

Thanks to dampers, their actuators, and duct systems that regulates cooling or heating of the zones around a building, your HVAC unit doesn’t need to constantly turn on its heaters or air-conditioners to reach the ideal temperature.

Why a Home Would Need a Humidity Sensor

Humidity is the amount of vapor in the air. When it gets too humid, your house can suffer from mildew and mold growth, particularly in places like the bathroom, basement, and the kitchen or other places with water sources.

Here are the reasons why a humidity sensor is important. They measure the amount of water vapor in the air, thus you can use your HVAC system to identify areas of excess humidity and do something about them.

Humidity Sensor 101

  • Detecting Deficit Humidity: The sensor doesn’t only measure the amount of vapor or deficit humidity in the air. It also detects the specific areas where the humidity is forming, allowing you to know where to vent, heat up, or dry away those areas to reduce moisture to normal levels.
  • Avoid Dry Skin and Sinus Issues: As soon as your home starts having humidity issues, you should set your HVAC system in a certain way to prevent molds and mildew from forming or getting any of your wooden anything from getting wet. This also prevents sinus issues and dry skin from becoming problems.
  • Ideal Relative Humidity Levels: The ideal relative humidity levels for interior environments that doesn’t cause structural damage to the wooden parts of your home or asthma, sinusitis, and dry skin on people is about 30 to 50 percent. This is according to the recommendations of healthcare professionals and building experts.
  • How to Use the Sensor: The sensor picks up where you should set your HVAC to dry out humid areas. This prevents mold and wetness from ruining wood panels, wooden floors, and structural elements of your home from rotting and breaking. The sensor can also detect areas that can worsen asthma and similar issues due to spores.
  • The Importance of Hygrometers: Also known as hygrometers, the sensor is a small, digital device that works like a thermostat but for humidity. Certain smart HVAC systems have a hygrometer measure the humidity to adjust the settings of the unit to reduce or ventilate all the water vapor out of your home.
  • Ventilation is the Solution: Your home starts becoming swampy, steamy, and humid usually through heavy rains and you needing to close the house to keep the rainwater from pouring inside. The ventilation part of your Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioner system is what helps remove all that humidity from the inside to the outside.

Why Should You Use a Humidity Sensor?

If certain parts of your home, like a dank basement where all your water pipes are installed or your bathroom regularly suffers from the growth of mold and mildew, you can use the sensor and your ventilation system to detect then reduce the humidity levels.

The sensor also checks whether your anti-humidity solutions or HVAC settings are truly reducing the vapor and steam within your rooms or not.

It Pays To Use Name-Brand HVAC Replacement Parts

Make your HVAC system components run dependably for many years into the future by observing good maintenance of each and every one of them. You should have a trustworthy supplier of HVAC parts and supplies, in other words.

It’s because these individual parts won’t last forever and sometimes OEM isn’t an option because the original equipment manufacturer tends to intentionally render obsolete their wares 5-10 years after release.

The HVAC Parts to Watch Out For

HVAC refers to Humidifier, Ventilation, and Air Conditioner systems and devices that keep your home cold when it’s hot outside and hot when it’s cold outside. With that said, here are the HVAC parts you should get replacement parts for.

  • Thermostat: Most thermostats last about a decade. From there, it could end up failing due to heat anticipator failure, dust build-up, or the wiring wearing out due to age. Once your thermostat starts malfunctioning, it should be replaced to avoid running the A/C at the wrong temperature.
  • Contactor and Capacitors: As for capacitors and contactors, these electrical parts assist in providing power to the entire HVAC system. They will go through wear and tear by bearing such huge loads. Once they start failing, you might hear the system fan working but don’t feel any cooling or heating happening.
  • Igniter: In regards to the igniter, they’re the spark that ignites the fuel on any fuel-burning furnace necessary to make the heating part of the HVAC system to work. How long they can operate depends on how they’re designed. Some break down within 4 years while others last longer. Igniter failure is caused by debris, cracks, moisture issues, and voltage problems.
  • Flame Sensor: The flame sensor protects you from carbon monoxide poisoning. It shuts off the furnace if fuel is escaping from the device but not burning like it should. You don’t want this item to fail on you because the results can be deadly. Usually, a good cleaning can fix it, but sometimes they can crack, rust, or otherwise fail.
  • Blower Motor: The blower motor is the HVAC workhorse responsible for pushing cooled or heated air through your ducts. It can work for two decades or more. However, moisture or overheating can cause it to wear out early on before 20 years. It’s one of the more expensive parts of the HVAC system.
  • Compressor: The most important part of the A/C is responsible for pressurization of the refrigerant before it is pumped right into the condenser. This part can fail because of incorrect refrigerant charge, damaged or blocked refrigerant lines, or dirty coils. It’s not cheap to replace this part, so it pays to maintain this part to maximize its operation lifespan.

The Importance of Control Valves in HVAC Systems

Most people are unfamiliar what the control valve is for. As far as the HVAC system is concerned, they’re an important part of the whole kit and caboodle. You want flow solutions that give you a wide range of valves you can use for your Heater, Ventilation, and Air Conditioner setup.

Let’s now dive deeper into the uses and importance of the control valve for HVAC systems. They should be carefully maintained or replaced as necessary.

What are the Valves Used For?

These HVAC control valves ostensibly control or manage the flow of liquids into and throughout the HVAC system, creating a frequent or controlled output pressure from an input pressure that’s irregular.

  • Heating Coil Energy Transference: When energy isn’t effectively transferred to the heating coils of the HVAC system’s boiler, the water temperature won’t become hot or high enough to result in boiler condensation. The control valve helps reduce the flow measure and decrease the required equipment for water cooling or heating.
  • Control and Balancing Valves: The control and balancing valves exist to (obviously) control and balance the flow of hot and/or cold air produced by the HVAC device into the duct system of a given home, apartment, or building. They also make installations more straightforward.
  • HVAC Boilers and Coolers Regulation: HVAC coolers and boilers depend on these valves in order to heat up, ventilate, or cool down homes in residential areas, buildings in commercial areas, or factories in industrial areas. The valves regulate the flow of heat and cold to ensure the correct amount enters to all parts of a given structure.
  • Working Cost Reduction: Using control or balancing valves to adjust and regulate the hotness and coldness of your HVAC system reduces the working costs of the whole system. It makes the setup more adjustable and adaptable to changing weather or even climate change.
  • Control and Regulation Saves Dollars: The valves basically ensure that the whole system is efficiently working so that you don’t have to pay extra on your electricity bill because it keeps restarting and heating up when it’s cold or cooling down when it’s hot from scratch.
  • Works with the Environment Instead of Against It: The valves work by ensuring that the correct amount of flow goes to each coil and they can ensure free adjustment in accordance to the hotness and coldness of the environment so that your HVAC system isn’t working against nature to keep you cold or warm.

The valves ensure that each air conditioning, ventilation, and heating action uses efficient use of energy to produce the desired amount of comfort when push comes to shove. It also adjusts the flow in light of the needs of your residential, commercial, or industrial structure.

Inconsistent Temperatures? You May Need a New HVAC Actuator

The actuator converts energy into motion to manipulate a mechanism or system. The HVAC actuator, therefore, converts energy into motion to make the HVAC system work properly. They’re specifically responsible for closing and opening the dampers to direct hotness or coldness to the proper areas.

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Replacements for faulty HVAC actuators might be called for if your HVAC system has a tendency to produce inconsistent temperatures. Bad actuators don’t open or shut the dampers in time or as needed.

When is an HVAC Actuator Faulty?

Directing hot and cold area to the proper areas they’re needed the most require actuators to move the dampers when needed, like when distributing heater hotness in winter or A/C coldness in summer.

  • Inconsistent Temperature and Bad Actuators: If your HVAC unit and system produces inconsistent temperatures, one of the prime suspects of that symptom is a bad actuator. Actuators do wear out or develop cracks over time as they’re used. Check your actuator if your HVAC temperatures are all over the place.
  • Only Actuators Produce Inconsistent Temperatures? No. Inconsistent temperatures can also root from dusty vents or other broken heater or A/C parts, leading to rooms becoming too cold or too hot. However, it’s usually the actuator that does it if cleanup doesn’t solve the issue.
  • Strange Noises from Your Unit: Your actuator might be acting up if you’re hearing banging or clicking coming from your HVAC system. You can consider such noises as a cry of help from the actuator itself as it fails to convert energy to kinetic damper movement.
  • Thermostat Temperature Adjustment is Difficult: If you’re having issues adjusting your thermostat settings, it could be your thermostat acting up or it could be the fault of a faulty HVAC actuator, particularly if your thermostat isn’t really affecting hotness or coldness at all.
  • Inconsistent or Weak Airflow: If your airflow is absent, inconsistent, or otherwise weak and your vents are in pristine condition with zero dust whatsoever, then you might be faced with an actuator that’s incapable of moving the air consistently through vents, whether it’s hot or cold air.
  • Higher Energy Bills Overall: The actuator is such an important part of your HVAC system that it makes the whole unit work harder in order to cool down or heat up your rooms when it’s malfunctioning in redirecting air via damper movement. This inefficiency naturally results in higher bills.

At any rate, how the actuators move the dampers is also based on the thermostat settings. It can open or close partially to redirect hot and cold air depending on how hot or how cold the thermostat is set. Ditto if it’s an automatic or smart thermostat.

Programmable vs. Smart Thermostat: How to Choose

Both smart and programmable thermostats enable you to save cash on your utility bills. They can automatically regulate the temperature of your home. In contrast, manual thermostats hold temperature as you’ve set it until you adjust it in accordance to your preference.

A programmable thermostat has settings that auto-increases or auto-decreases temperature without your input. A smart one even adjusts in accordance to outside or room temperature.

Should you go for a smart thermostat or a programmable one? Let’s find out.

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Instead of waiting for you to start sneezing because the room is too cold or start sweating because the room is too toasty, an auto thermostat detects and adjusts the temperature for you.

  • The Manual Thermostat Upgrade: Should you upgrade from a manual thermostat for your HVAC system to a programmable or smart one? Or should you stick to the thermostat that gives you complete control of the room temperature? Learn your options first and how they differ from one another!
  • What’s the Deal with Programmable Thermostats? A programmable thermostat allows you to predetermine the temperature of your home for a number of days or weeks rather than have you set it yourself manually. This saves you time and effort to manually set the HVAC, plus you can always do a manual override if you wish.
  • What’s the Deal with Smart Thermostats? Smart thermostats, like your smartphone or smart doorbell, are “smart” or “computerized” and “advanced”. This means it’s capable of connecting to the Internet, detecting the weather temperature, and adjusting the temperature on its own without your input.
  • What’s the Difference Between Smart and Programmable? You still need to manually program the programmable thermostat, but after that one time, it auto-adjusts in accordance to your settings. A smart device thermostat intuitively detects how hot or cold the room or house is then cools or heats your room efficiently and “smartly”.
  • Which One Should You Get? You can save up to 20 percent on your home’s energy bills by using a programmable thermostat that’s about as effective as a smart unit when it comes to boosting the energy-efficiency of your HVAC system. On the other hand, if you can afford smart tech, you can get various other perks from it.
  • How Smart are Smart Thermostats? Just as a smartphone allows you to run apps and browse the Internet versus a standard cellphone, a smart-thermostat has a computer inside it to efficiently adjust the heat or cold by the temperature of the house or even by your preferred temperature whenever you have to do a manual override.

Long story short, if you can afford smart unit thermostats, go for them. If you can’t, you can roughly approximate the automatic nature of an A.I.-powered computerized thermostat with a programmable thermostat that presets your settings for days or weeks in advance.

Is An Oil Burner Or A Gas Furnace More Energy Efficient?

Purchasing a furnace might be good for you if you’re constantly having heater problems and end up with cold spots in your room. Sometimes, winters can get extra cold, especially nowadays since we’re in the cusp of climate change.

With that in mind, should you get an oil burner or gas furnace for your heating needs? Which option will reduce the strange noises, cold spots, and rising energy costs of your household or office building?

Choosing the Right Kind of Furnace for You

Gas furnaces are cheaper than oil furnaces due to their use of gas utilities (which work like water and electricity utilities—just pay them monthly as required). However, oil furnaces are safer because they don’t cause carbon monoxide leaks.

  • Pros of Gas Furnaces: If you live in populated areas or larger cities, the gas furnace is your best bet when it comes to efficient household heating. It’s because utility companies are more accessible in metropolitan areas, so accessibility isn’t an issue. This also makes such units more affordable and efficient. They require less maintenance compared to their oily counterparts.
  • Cons of Gas Furnaces: The main drawback of gas furnaces is the increased risk for carbon monoxide leaks, which can result in deadly results. Carbon monoxide poisoning is risky because the gas has no smell and can make you fall asleep. The furnaces are also huge energy consumers while emitting poor indoor air quality when their filters get clogged.
  • Pros of Oil Furnaces: Oil furnaces are relatively safer because they don’t emit the dangerous carbon monoxide leaks you should watch out for with gas furnaces. The oil is also hot enough to give you enough warmth to bundle up to even in the bitterest of winters. You have full control of oil furnaces as well, so you’re not dependent on utility company supplies.
  • Cons of Oil Furnaces: It’s more expensive to fuel oil furnaces compared to gas furnaces. The use of oil to burn in the furnace can also get quite messy. They can be quite the fire hazard too, when you think about it. Regular maintenance of your oil furnace is a must when compared to the maintenance required for gas furnaces.

Oil vs. Natural Gas Heating: What’s the Better System?

Oil furnaces require more maintenance and cleanup compared to gas furnaces, but gas furnaces require more carbon monoxide leak prevention for your own safety (watch out for the carbon monoxide level alarm).

In regards to which furnace is safer, it depends on your circumstances. If you’re in the big city, go for gas heating because it’s more practical and there are safeguards available to prevent and detect carbon monoxide leakages. If you live in a far-off province, oil furnaces are more practical and safer.