Understanding how static pressure affects the performance of the heating and cooling system in your Wichita, Kansas, home highlights the importance of ongoing HVAC maintenance. When HVAC equipment is properly installed and carefully maintained, static pressure remains at an acceptable level. In turn, HVAC systems can function reliably and efficiently. Read on to find out exactly what static pressure is and why it matters so much.
Static Pressure Is a Measurement of Air Resistance
Air pressure and static pressure are two opposing forces inside of your HVAC ductwork. Without one or the other, your heating and cooling equipment wouldn’t have the ability to distribute conditioned air. Static pressure is the measurement of resistance to airflow within the HVAC air ducts. When resistance to airflow is high, this means that static pressure is high.
Increases in static pressure can be caused by many different things. Some central HVAC systems have excessively high levels of static pressure all the time. This is often the case when improperly sized heating and cooling equipment has been installed. However, excess static pressure can also be the result of ductwork that’s too small.
Static Pressure Measurements Are a Key Part of HVAC Maintenance Service
Whenever HVAC technicians are performing general system maintenance or attempting to diagnose and resolve issues, static pressure readings are taken. These measurements are not unlike having your blood pressure assessed during a doctor’s appointment. Much like blood pressure readings, static pressure can point to the source of potential problems and give technicians insight into an HVAC system’s general health. The ideal static pressure reading for most homes is 0.5 inches. If the static pressure in your HVAC system registers as much higher or much lower than this, your provider will automatically know that something is off.
Signs That Static Pressure Is Too High or Too Low
When static pressure suddenly increases within your HVAC ductwork, there are several tell-tale signs that may present. For instance, if your heating and cooling equipment become noisy during operation, this means that increased pressure is forcing more air through your HVAC ducts, and at rapid speeds. Fast-moving air can create audible sounds within the ductwork, and at your system’s vents and return grille.
Blower motors within HVAC systems have to work harder when static pressure is off. Variable speed motors often reach top speeds in an effort to keep air moving. This is a sign that obstructions or other issues affecting static pressure exist. Changes in blower motor speeds and output frequently lead to noisier operation. Thus, if you’re wondering why your HVAC system is whistling, whirring, or humming loudly, excess or insufficient static pressure is the most likely cause.
High levels of static pressure can also leave your home with areas that are noticeably colder or hotter than others. Unless your central HVAC system has been zoned for customized heating and cooling, your air conditioner and furnace should create a uniform temperature throughout the entire building. Lacking the right amount of static pressure, HVAC systems cannot provide regular and reliable air delivery to every room.
Another common sign of problems with static pressure is a sudden increase in your home energy bills. When static pressure readings are off, HVAC systems cannot function efficiently. There may be blockages, air leaks, or sizing issues that are negatively impacting air delivery. Until these problems are identified and resolved, you’ll pay more than you’re used to paying for heating and cooling, and your home won’t feel as comfortable as you’d like.
Excessively High or Low Static Pressure Readings Are a Sign of a Larger Problem
High or low static pressure is a symptom of underlying problems within heating and cooling systems. HVAC technicians cannot restore ideal static pressure without diagnosing and resolving these issues. When determining the source of high or low static pressure, HVAC companies consider a vast range of factors. In homes where monthly energy bills have always been abnormally high, technicians might inspect equipment sizes. For instance, if you purchased your home as existing construction, you may find that your current heating and cooling equipment is either too large or too small for the service area. Until properly sized heating and cooling units are put in, there are no mitigation strategies that are guaranteed to keep static pressure at an acceptable level.
Common Reasons for High and Low Static Pressure Readings
Anything that impedes or expedites airflow in your HVAC system will have an impact on static pressure. This includes incorrectly sized HVAC equipment and leaky air ducts. Other common causes are:
- Return air intake ducts that are too small
- Incompatible HVAC air filters
- Issues with the overall layout or design of HVAC ductwork
- Dirty HVAC air ducts
Many times, problems with static pressure are caused by homeowners themselves. It is not uncommon for consumers to pick the biggest air conditioners or heaters that they can find. People often think that bigger heating or cooling equipment is guaranteed to be better. However, an oversize air conditioner won’t cool your home down faster or more efficiently than one that’s far smaller but ideally suited to the building.
Even something as seemingly minor as installing the wrong HVAC air filter can have a similar impact. HVAC air filters have maximum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings that range between one and 20. Although filters with higher MERV ratings offer higher levels of filtration, some of these units are only compatible with commercial or industrial HVAC equipment. Even filters with ratings of just 13 are primarily designed for hospitals and clean rooms. Choosing a filter with a rating that’s too high for your home heating and cooling equipment can impede airflow, increase static pressure, and cause serious repair issues. Thus, it is always best to make these and other HVAC upgrades with the right professional guidance. It is far cheaper and easier to have a licensed HVAC technician help you choose the right air conditioner or heater for your home and the right HVAC air filter for your equipment.
Why Problems With Static Pressure Require Immediate Attention
Issues with static pressure can go unnoticed for quite some time. You might not be aware of hot and cold spots throughout your living environment, increased HVAC noise, or gradual increases in your home energy bills. This is why it’s important to schedule regular HVAC inspections and tune-ups. When static pressure is measured during these visits, potentially costly issues can be diagnosed and resolved right away.
If static pressure is allowed to remain too high or too low for any extended period of time, your heating and cooling equipment can break down. Leaving issues like leaky air ducts unchecked can cause new duct leaks to develop. Hard-working blower motors can fail, and HVAC compressors can overheat and stop working. Delayed service can turn minor repairs into major and expensive fixes.
Fahnestock HVAC has been providing reliable home heating and cooling services to residents of Wichita, Kansas since 1946. We also provide electrical repairs, plumbing services, and geothermal heating solutions. If your HVAC system needs professional maintenance or timely repair service, you can always count on us. Call us today to get started.