Understanding Zone Cooling And Damper Issues

If you have zone heating and cooling in your home, you're in luck. You enjoy greater control over the temperature within different areas of your home and, as a result, you likely save on your energy costs when compared to a traditional forced-air system. Still, zone HVAC systems do have more moving parts and are thus a little more prone to problems than traditional HVAC systems. By having a better understanding of how zone cooling works and what some of the more common issues are, you can make more informed decisions regarding the maintenance of your HVAC system.

How Does Zone Control Work in Your Home?

The purpose of zone control is to give you greater control over the temperature of different "zones" of your house. A common example is a two-zone system, where the main level and upper level are controlled by two different thermostats. As a result, you can maintain different temperatures on each level to maximize comfort and reduce energy costs.

In a two-zone system, a motherboard is connected to your HVAC system that essentially communicates with the electronic dampers that control air flow to each zone. When one zone requires heating or cooling, the signal is sent to open the damper to that zone. Both zones can be in operation at once, if needed.

Common Issues With Dampers

Most HVAC dampers are controlled by motors that, over time, can go bad. A common sign of a bad damper occurs when one zone of your home isn't heating or cooling properly. You may hear the system attempting to heat or cool your home, but there may be little or no air flow coming out of the vents. Meanwhile, your other zone operates normally.

In some cases, dampers may not have a bad motor but may be stuck shut by debris or a broken part.

Damper Repair/Replacement: What to Expect

An HVAC professional with experience handling zoned systems can come out to your home and diagnose damper problems. The cost of replacing or repairing a damper will vary based on the availability of parts and the accessibility of the dampers themselves. In many cases, dampers are located in attic spaces that can be difficult to reach.

Dealing with damper issues or other problems with your zone heating and cooling system can be a pain, but most can be easily diagnosed and repaired by an air conditioning repair professional. From there, you can enjoy the benefits of zone control once again.