How To Diagnose a Return Air Issue

May 9, 2022


There are several things you can do to diagnose a return air issue in your home. The first step is to check the ducts for leaks. You can also measure the air flow at the vents to see if it is adequate. Check the return air ducts to make sure they are not blocked. Finally, you should inspect the refrigerant lines to make sure they are not blocked or leaking. If you are experiencing symptoms of not enough return air, such as poor air quality or high energy bills, you should consult a professional to diagnose the problem.

Check Ducts for Leaks

If you are experiencing a sudden increase in your energy bills, it is likely that you have a return air issue. The first step in diagnosing the problem is to check the ducts for leaks. You can do this by visually inspecting the seams and joints, and by using a smoke stick. If there are any, they will need to be repaired. If they are not leaking, the next step is to determine if the return air grill is blocked. You can do this by checking to see if the grill is dirty and if there is any obstruction in the way. If the grill is dirty, it will need to be cleaned. And if there is an obstruction, it will need to be removed.

Measure Air Flow at Vents


To diagnose a return air issue, measure the airflow at the vents. If the airflow is low, the problem is likely with the return air duct or the filter. And if the airflow is high, the problem is likely with the supply air duct.

Check the Return Air Ducts

When diagnosing a return air issue, check the return air ducts. Make sure that they are properly connected and that there are no leaks. If there are leaks, you will need to seal them up. You can do this by using caulk or duct tape. If the return air ducts are properly connected and there are no leaks, you may have a problem with the air handler. The air handler is the part of the HVAC system that controls the flow of air. If the air handler is not working properly, it can cause problems with the air quality in your home. But if you have already checked the return air ducts and the air handler and you are still experiencing problems with the air quality in your home, you may need to call a professional to diagnose and fix the problem.

Inspecting Refrigerant Lines

If any of the lines are bent, kinked, or leaking, you will need to have the lines fixed before continuing with the diagnosis. If the air filter is clean and the ducts are in good condition, you will need to check the air handlers. If the air handlers are dirty or clogged, the professional will recommend that the homeowner have them cleaned. When the air handlers are clean and the refrigerant lines are in good condition, there could be an issue with the compressor.

Check the Coils


To diagnose issues with a heating and cooling system, an HVAC technician will likely check the evaporator coil. If the evaporator coil is dirty or clogged, having it cleaned is the next best step. If the evaporator coil is clean and the compressor is in good condition, the next step is to check the condenser coil.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be an indication that your home is not getting enough return air: warm air coming out of your vents, rooms that are difficult to cool or heat a rise in your energy bills during the summer or winter, dusty air or an increase in allergies, pets that are always in the same spot, and musty smells. Make sure to have an HVAC technician inspect your air system to ensure that it's functioning optimally.


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