HVAC Problems in Older Homes in McLean, VA

Older homes have unique character and can offer a higher return on investment when properly maintained. Despite some of the benefits of older homes, they also offer some interesting challenges. Consider these six HVAC problems you’re likely to encounter with older homes in McLean, VA.

1. Air Quality Issues

Air quality refers to the volume of contaminants in the air, especially particulate matter. One of the biggest problems with older homes is the poor air quality that comes from aging building materials.

In older homes, the building materials are usually drying out and releasing small particles into the air. This is especially true for older homes that use lathe and plaster construction.

Older homes also tend to have more problems with rodents and insects. These critters leave feces and dander behind. The air circulating around your home can pick up these particles and spread them throughout your house.

2. Ancient HVAC System

Modern gas furnaces have an expected service life of 15 to 20 years. Air conditioners usually reliably serve a home for 10 to 15 years. Both of these averages are when the system is properly maintained.

The challenge with older homes is that they often have HVAC systems beyond their expected service life. In some cases, you may not know how old the system is or its maintenance history.

This often leads to overpaying to heat and cool your home. Additionally, you may find your home is difficult to keep comfortable simply because of the system’s age.

3. Old and Leaky Ductwork

You need properly sealed and insulated ducts to get the most impact from a central HVAC system. However, older homes often have aging ducts that aren’t in good condition.

Leaky ducts allow conditioned air to leak out before it arrives at the intended destination in your home. It also allows unconditioned air to leak into the system. Finally, leaking ducts also reduce the pressure of the air flowing from the supply ducts, reducing the circulation.

4. Insufficient Airflow

When it comes to HVAC, there are a few factors of airflow that become important. The first factor is the proper balance between intake and return vents.

Modern HVAC systems utilize the pressure difference between supply and return vents to circulate conditioned air. However, if you don’t have proper airflow through the system, the conditioned air won’t circulate.

Further, an aging system may have a circulating fan that isn’t spinning at the proper speed due to wear. A technician will check this during routine HVAC maintenance and will inform you if this is a problem.

5. Aging Thermostat

Thermostats won’t last forever but need periodic replacing, usually about every 10 to 15 years. Even if the thermostat works fine, it may be an older analog model.

Analog thermostats use bimetallic strips to “sense” the temperature rather than electric sensors. These strips expand and contract with temperature changes, causing contacts to connect or separate and start or stop a cycle. This system requires calibration to continue working accurately, and the strips will wear out over time.

Additionally, older thermostats may not have programs to change your temperature setting when you’re not home automatically. According to the Department of Energy, using a programmable thermostat can lower your heating and cooling bill by up to 10%.

6. Single Zoned System

Most older homes have a single zone, meaning one thermostat controls the temperature in the entire home. When the system runs, it sends conditioned air through the house, not just where needed.

Highly efficient systems will leverage multiple zones, improving heating and cooling efficiency. These systems will have a separate thermostat or control for each zone that will activate dampers in the ducts. Dampers will open when a zone needs heating or cooling and close when it doesn’t.

You don’t have to settle for the problems common with older homes. Call the experts at Vernon The Heating & Cooling Specialist to schedule an indoor air quality consultation today.

Image provided by iStock

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