Homeowners in Champaign, Illinois with existing ductwork were once the envy of their neighbors. Having ductwork installed post-construction to support central HVAC can be an incredibly costly endeavor. Ductless mini-split heating and cooling systems forever changed this. Now, people living in houses without ductwork can enjoy whole-house comfort, too. Moreover, they’re often admired for the greater flexibility, efficiency, and customized comfort that their ductless systems supply. Fortunately, automatic HVAC dampers make it possible for those with central heating and cooling equipment to also zone their homes for efficiency.
What Are HVAC Dampers?
With a standard central HVAC system, apart from turning the heater or air conditioner all the way off, the only way to prevent conditioned air from entering an unoccupied room is by shutting the air vents. Unfortunately, doing so won’t reduce your home energy bills, lower your carbon footprint, or ensure comfort in other areas. This energy-saving strategy subjects heating and cooling systems to accelerated wear and reduced lifespans, and ultimately increases energy consumption.
Just as ductless mini-split air conditioners and heat pumps can establish various temperatures across different zones or rooms throughout a house, zoned HVAC systems can do so as well. HVAC dampers make this possible by sectioning off ductwork to create individual zones. Each zone that’s separated from the others via automatic HVAC dampers is then controlled by its own independent thermostat. This way, unoccupied rooms don’t have to receive heated or cooled air when the HVAC system is on, and air vents don’t have to be closed.
Having Dampers Installed Is Different From Closing Vents
HVAC air vents aren’t designed to provide zoning capabilities. In fact, they aren’t meant for regular or long-term use at all. These grills can be adjusted to redirect the flow of air into a room, but as soon as they’re closed completely, air pressure builds within HVAC ducts. This rise in air pressure accounts for the increased wear that HVAC systems sustain when vent closures are used for “zoning.” It also accounts for increased energy use as heaters and air conditioners are forced to work harder.
Using HVAC dampers to selectively heat and cool various areas throughout the building is far different. To start, the dampers that are used in HVAC zoning systems are automatic rather than manual. These components, along with individual thermostats, are wired to a zoned system’s control panel. Sometimes referred to as a comfort control panel, this panel tracks the need for heating and cooling in each area based on individual thermostat settings and controls dampers to deliver heating and cooling to meet these needs. Dampers are opened and closed according to the control panel’s commands. Moreover, HVAC dampening in zoned systems is strategically configured to prevent harmful increases in air pressure.
What HVAC Bypass Dampers Do
Bypass dampers in zoned HVAC systems are the secret to blocking airflow without causing any significant rise in air pressure within HVAC ducts. When central HVAC systems are zoned during the initial construction of homes, air pressure control can be accomplished by installing oversized ducts in select areas. Oversized ducts are large enough to accommodate airflow increases without sustaining damage. However, when central heating and cooling systems are zoned post-construction, bypass dampers provide air pressure relief instead. Bypass dampers redirect excess air into bypass ducts. This way, HVAC systems aren’t subjected to undue wear, and zoned central HVAC systems can offer levels of efficiency that are comparable to those of ductless mini-splits.
The Benefits of Having HVAC Dampers Installed
Installing HVAC dampers is merely one part of the zoning process. Based on the current configuration of a home’s existing ductwork and the number of zones preferred, other minor modifications to ducts may be necessary. HVAC zoning also requires the installation of several thermostats and a comfort control system. Notwithstanding these things, HVAC dampening is far more effective at creating customized heating and cooling throughout houses than closing air vents, and it’s significantly cheaper overall. It’s also an excellent way for households to dramatically reduce both their energy bills and their carbon footprints, all without sacrificing comfort.
At Bash Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., we’ve been providing furnace and air conditioner installation, maintenance, and repairs to residents of Champaign and the surrounding areas since 1952. We additionally offer HVAC sheet metal fabrication, ductless mini-split installation, heat pumps, and preventative maintenance plans. Call us today to find out if central HVAC system zoning is the right choice for you.