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Althoff Industries Inc.

Chicago’s Choice Since 1961

815-455-7000

24/7 Emergency Service

Chicago’s Choice Since 1961

815-455-7000

24/7 Emergency Service

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Althoff Industries Inc. Blog

How You Can Avoid Air Conditioner Air Flow Problems

A lack of air flow is one of the most common problems your heating and cooling system can have. This issue can manifest itself in several ways. Luckily, there are also several ways to address air flow problems and prevent them in the future.

Key Takeaways


  • A malfunctioning HVAC system can lead to problems with your air flow, heating, cooling, and indoor air quality.
  • Signs that your AC is having issues include hot or cold spots, air pressure imbalance, lack of air coming from your air ducts, and air that is too warm.
  • The most common cause of air flow issues is an improperly installed air filter. Check the arrow on your filter to make sure it is facing the correct direction. Additionally, if it is clogged with dust and debris, then it should be replaced.
  • Other common causes for air flow problems include obstructions to your condensing unit, dirty fans or coils, a faulty thermostat, and refrigerant leaks.
  • Some of these issues can be fixed by cleaning dirty parts or removing obstructions. Others should only be handled by professionals.
  • Althoff Industries offers 24-hour emergency HVAC repair services and regularly-scheduled maintenance! Call our emergency hotline at (815) 455-7000.

Signs That You Are Having Air Flow Issues

There are a few telltale signs that your heating and air conditioning are having air flow issues:

  • Random hot and cold spots throughout the rooms in your home
  • Air pressure imbalance (i.e. doors closing randomly, whistling noises)
  • Lack of air coming from your vents
  • Your AC is blowing warm air

If you notice any of these issues, then your HVAC system is likely having problems.

Dirty or Improperly Installed Air Filter

The most common cause of air flow issues is an air filter that has been installed incorrectly or is dirty and clogged. One end of the air filter “breathes” fresh air through, while the other end traps dust and debris and prevents it from dispersing throughout your property. If the air filter has been installed backwards, it will inhibit the air flow through your HVAC system. This will cause it to work less efficiently and could even lead to serious damage in your system. If you notice any of the aforementioned issues, then the first thing you should do is check your filter.

When replacing your air filter (or checking to make sure it is installed properly), make sure to look for the arrow! Generally, air filters are manufactured with arrows printed on the side, showing the proper direction of air flow. The confusion can come from understanding which direction the air flow is going into your system.

Air flows into your HVAC system from your supply ducts, usually larger rectangular shaped ductwork that is attached near the bottom of your HVAC unit. Air flows out of this ductwork into your HVAC system toward the blower. Therefore, the arrow on the side of the filter should point away from the ductwork toward your HVAC unit. The ductwork is where the air is coming from, so you don’t want the arrow pointing in that direction.

We’ve produced a short, simple demonstration of the correct installation position of an air filter that you can view in less than 60 seconds.

Not only should you check to make sure that the filter is facing the correct direction, but you should also make sure that it is not overly clogged with dust and debris. As a general rule of thumb, you should replace your air filter every month or so. You should also be aware that while “thicker” filters may trap more particulate matter, they too, can inhibit air flow.

Other Causes of HVAC Air Flow Issues

If your air filter is facing the correct direction and doesn’t need to be replaced, then you most likely have a different problem. There are several other potential causes of air flow issues within your HVAC system.

  • Obstructed condenser unit
  • Malfunctioning thermostat
  • Grimy or broken fans
  • Dirty coils
  • Low refrigerant levels

Obstructed Condenser Unit

Your AC system’s condenser unit is typically found outside your house. These units can become obstructed by fallen leaves, dust, and debris if no attention is paid to them. If this happens, your condensing unit can overheat and fail to work properly. You can easily remedy this issue by removing obstructions and cleaning the unit.

Malfunctioning Thermostat

A faulty thermostat is one of the leading causes of problems with your HVAC system. Most people just don’t realize it. The issue could be fixed by changing the batteries, or you may have to replace the thermostat altogether.

Either way, this is one of the easiest problems to solve. An HVAC repair and maintenance company can replace the thermostat if you do not feel comfortable.

Grimy or Broken Fans

Your HVAC unit uses fans to blow air through your air ducts and circulate it throughout the rest of your property. If a fan is sluggish, this can impede the flow of air. Most of the time, all you need to do is give it a good old-fashioned cleaning. However, if your fan is old and is not working, you may have to replace it altogether.

Dirty Coils

Your HVAC system’s condenser coil releases the heat that has been removed from your property. If it is not working properly, then heat will get trapped in your home. Needless to say, on a hot summer day, this is not fun!

The condenser coil is located outside, so it’s easy for it to get dirty. Make sure to give it a thorough cleaning and check it occasionally to prevent it from happening again.

Low Refrigerant Levels

This is one of the most common problems with HVAC systems. If your AC unit’s refrigeration levels are low, then it may be leaking. Low levels of refrigerant can lead to a drastic decrease in your indoor air quality. An HVAC repair and maintenance company can inspect your air conditioner for leaks, repair them, and bring its refrigeration levels back to normal.

Althoff Industries Is the Go-To Company for HVAC Repairs and Maintenance!

Althoff Industries has been servicing Chicago and the surrounding areas for many years. We offer 24-hour emergency service to those in need. Whether your air conditioner or furnace breaks down entirely, or you have noticed a decline in its performance, call our emergency hotline number at (815) 455-7000.

In addition to air conditioner and furnace repair, we can completely replace your system if it is not up to snuff. You can also schedule regular tune-ups and maintenance to ensure that your HVAC system continues to function for years to come.

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