If you’ve never taken a close look at your HVAC system before, you may not realize just how complicated it is. The air ducts that allow you to control the temperature in your home are not only widespread, but they’re sensitive to changes in air pressure.
Even so, come the warmer months of the year, you may want to close off the air vents in your basement. As long as you’re careful, doing so can save you money on your utility bills. If you close too many vents, you may find your bills spiking.
Closing Your Basement Vents: The Benefits
Frugal homeowners will want to do what they can to save money all year round. Sometimes, this means making small changes around your home. One of the easiest ways to trim a little off your energy bill is to close your basement vents.
If you don’t frequently use your basement or the rooms in the lower levels of your home, it’s the most cost-effective to seal them off during the summer. This way, you reduce the amount of airflow into those rooms and make them easier to temperature control.
That said, closing your vents is best for saving energy but not for redirecting cool air throughout your home. Some homeowners believe that by closing the vents in their basements, cool air will automatically be redirected toward the upper levels of a house. Unfortunately, that’s not how your furnace fan works. If you are looking to cool the upper levels of your home, consider investing in room-based air conditioning units or fans.
Something else to consider investing in is a powerful but energy-efficient dehumidifier. The units offered by JES, for example, work to effectively clean and filter the air, control moisture and humidity, and reduce odors and the potential for mold growth. These dehumidification units also are self-draining and can be directed to drain into your sump pump; that way, there are no buckets or reservoirs that you have to empty.
Closing Your Basement Vents: The Side Effects
If you close too many of your basement’s vents, you may find yourself encountering more problems than you’d initially expect.
During the summer, your furnace fan needs to move air through your home. If you give that air fewer places to go, then pressure can build up inside of your air ducts. As that pressure increases, your ducts may begin to leak.
If you find yourself dealing with leaks, you may rapidly see your electric bill start to rise – which is the exact opposite of what most homeowners want. Leaks will also make your home less comfortable to live in, as they’ll limit the airflow throughout your home during the cooler months of the year as well as the warmer ones.
If you leave your vents closed for too long, it’s even possible the low airflow moving through your air conditioner may cause the affiliated coil to freeze.
Is It Safe to Close Your Basement Vents During the Summer?
With all that in mind, is it a good idea to close your basement vents during the warmer months of the year?
There’s no harm in closing a few basement vents. However, you should make a point of reopening those vents after a day or two of leaving them closed. You should also try and keep the vents on all the other floors of your home open to promote consistent and effective airflow. In doing so, you’ll keep the pressure in your air vents low and prevent costly leaks.
Watching for An Air Vent Leak
If you’ve over-closed your vents before, you’ll want to keep an eye out for signs of an air vent leak throughout your home. Symptoms of a leak include but are not limited to:
- Hot and cool spots
- Increased utility or electric bills
Finding a Vent Leak
If you think you might have an air vent leak on your hands, you’ll want to reach out to one of the professional contractors working in your area. You can take steps to identify which of your vents is leaking. To locate a leak, you’ll need to:
- Look for obvious signs of damage across your vent system.
- Turn up your HVAC system and see where the air fails to flow.
- Look over your duct joints for any signs of damage or loss of airflow.
- Use smoke from a lighter, fog machine, candle, or incense stick to track the flow of air through your home.
You can temporarily patch up a duct leak while waiting for professionals to come and help. Duct tape is aptly named and will serve you well if you want to fix a leak. That said, you won’t be able to rely on duct tape to protect your vents in the long term. While it provides a quick DIY solution, you’ll still want to reach out to the professionals in your area for a more permanent fix.
If you’re looking to lower your utility bills by closing a few vents this summer, make sure you’re rotating the vents you close. If you’re not careful, you may wind up raising your bills more rapidly than you lower them.
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