Air Conditioner Troubleshooting: Common Causes Of Restricted Airflow

Posted on: 7 November 2016


An air conditioner needs adequate airflow in order to function efficiently. This is because, when there is a short supply of air into the system, the balance between the rate at which the refrigerant absorbs heat and the rate at which warm air is supplied to the evaporator coil will be disrupted. The abnormally low temperatures that result from this then cause evaporator coil icing, something that eventually causes a marked decrease in the air conditioner's performance.

Knowing the common causes of restricted airflow usually comes in handy when trying to figure out what needs fixing. Here is what may be to blame for your restricted airflow problem.

Blocked return air inlets

Return air inlets serve as entry points of air into the air conditioning system. To help protect the air conditioning system, these inlets are usually covered in grilles. Unfortunately, dirt and debris sometimes collect on these grilles, limiting their capacity to let in air into the system. This then causes restricted airflow and icing-related air conditioner complications.

The location of the inlets also makes them susceptible to getting obstructed. They tend to be located either on the floor or near the bottom of a wall, something that increases the chances of the inlets getting blocked by things such as furniture.

Cleaning the return grilles and moving physical obstructions such as furniture will be enough to solve this problem.

Air duct defects

If you are using flex ducts to carry air from the return air inlets to the air conditioner, any collapsed section of the duct will reduce the amount of air that the air conditioner receives. To reduce increase the efficiency with which an air conditioning system cools a home, the air ducts of the system are usually armed with insulation. A problem usually arises when, due to poor installation or simple wear and tear, the insulation collapses. This turns the insulation from a performance-increasing asset into a liability since it obstructs airflow within the ducts.

Dirty air filters

When dirt accumulates on an air conditioner's filters, it clogs them. This usually limits the ability of the filter to let air into the air conditioning system and essentially causes restricted airflow. In extreme cases of clogging, the amount of force exerted on the filter usually increases. This can sometimes cause the filter to get sucked into the duct system. This then creates a blockage within the ducts that limits airflow. Simply removing the filter in question and then washing it in a solution of water and vinegar will go a long way towards preventing airflow problems.

For more tips, contact a company that specializes in air conditioner repairs.