Common Causes of Blocked Air Ducts

How comfortable is your home? If you really think about this question, you might come to some interesting conclusions — are there certain rooms or areas of your home that are more comfortable than others? If this is the case, there’s a chance you could have blocked HVAC ducts in your home. 

Blocked air ducts at home can manifest in a variety of ways, but the most noticeable is typically temperature differences between rooms. Often more obvious in the winter, you may find yourself hiding out in the ‘warm’ zones or spending more time and energy to warm certain parts of the house and not others. And by contrast, in the summer, there may be areas where it’s just too warm or stuffy – no matter how many fans you have running – for you to enjoy spending time there.

Signs of Blocked Air Ducts

While temperature is a telling sign you may have blocked air ducts, it’s not the only one. Additionally, you may notice: 

  • Higher utility bills
  • More dust or debris in the air/reduced indoor air quality 
  • Unexplained noises coming from ductwork

What Causes Blocked Air Ducts?

Diagnosing blocked air ducts is often easier than finding out the cause, since there are several ways air ducts can become clogged or blocked over time. The most common cause of blocked air ducts is dust and debris build up in the filter — this causes the system to overcompensate, using more energy and driving up your utility bills. 

Damaged furnace filters or problems with filter installation can cause duct blockages. Bad dampers, damaged ducts, and objects that may make their way into the ducts can also cause significant blockage to impair HVAC performance, impacting your utilities and your home’s comfort. 

Besides leading to higher costs every month, blocked ducts can also damage your furnace and air conditioner. The added effort these units expend while trying to compensate for the blockage can mean they need additional repairs and can even cause early burnout, meaning you’ll need to replace these major components of your HVAC sooner than necessary. 

Can I Fix a Blocked Air Duct on My Own? 

Depending on the reason for your HVAC blockage, fixing a blocked air duct can require professional tools and know how. However, there are a few steps you can DIY to make sure your system is running efficiently and cleanly. 

Firstly, do a visual inspection of vents and ducts. This should tell you whether there’s a blockage you can deal with yourself — like a child’s toy dropped into the vent, or a lot of dust, dirt, or debris on the cold air return. It’s also simple enough to check your air filter to make sure it’s not time to replace it — you’ll be able to tell if it’s a dark color and has visible debris trapped in it. 

You can also look around the venting itself to see if there are any points where it might be damaged or disconnected. Once you’ve made sure the vents are clean —you can do this easily with a vacuum attachment to remove dust and dirt — and checked the cold air return and visible parts of the system, you’re in a better position to determine whether you need professional help. 

For example, if you change the filter, clean the ducts and air return, and you don’t see any issues with the structure of the HVAC from the outside, it’s likely time to call a professional who can find the source of the problem. From changing filters and regular venting maintenance, our HVAC professionals are ready to help make sure your entire home is as comfortable as possible. Call today (707) 397-9034 for a blocked air duct inspection.

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