Manual Dampers Increase Efficiency in Home HVAC Systems
Manual dampers found within home HVAC systems (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) are valves or plates that regulate the flow of air inside the air handling equipment. These dampers can and should be adjusted to improve the comfort level and efficiency of the system.
The occupant of a home can adjust the dampers by hand by means of a control lever. Air dampers are basically mechanical doors that can be opened or closed to balance to air flow directed to different areas of the home. Conditioned air can then be routed to occupied areas of the building, while air flow is shut off in unused rooms. This increased efficiency can save money on the cost of energy to run the system.
For example, the occupants of a home may primarily occupy the main floor during the day and the upstairs bedrooms at night. Learning to adjust HVAC dampers allows for the air flow to be more efficiently appropriated to the areas in use by the occupants. The comfort level in that area is maximized as the heated or cooled air is flowing only to the required zone.
Locating the air duct dampers in an older home might pose a challenge but is worth the effort for efficiency of operation. Once located, the dampers can be easily adjusted to direct air flow. If the handle, or control lever, is positioned parallel to the direction of the duct, it is open and air is flowing freely. If the position of the handle is moved across the duct, the damper is closed and air flow has been shut off to that zone.
Manual dampers are also found in chimney flues. These air dampers can be closed off to prevent weather, birds, or other debris from entering the chimney. In the summer months, the damper is closed to keep the cooled air from escaping. In the winter, it is wise to close the damper between uses. The manual damper in the chimney flue may only be accessible by hand or by using a wood poker, or sometimes there may be a handle or lever that sticks down or out. Partially closing this damper can also control the combustion rate of the fire.
The control of the damper on a wood burning stove, or similar device, can be found as a handle on the vent duct. It is crucial for the occupants to familiarize themselves with the operation of the air dampers in chimneys and wood burning devices. Failure to open the damper before starting a burn can result in a house fire or smoke damage in the home.
Home owners should locate and learn how to adjust the manual dampers in the HVAC system of their home. The comfort level will be maximized as well as the efficiency of the operation of the system. Chimneys and wood burning devices are also critical areas for familiarization for safety, as well as keeping the conditioned air from escaping.