5 HVAC Problems Homeowners in Montgomery County Face — and How I Fixed Them

I’ve been fixing HVAC systems in Montgomery County for a long time, and I’ve encountered many problems that frustrate homeowners. From poor air flow to refrigerant leaks, these are the common culprits behind inefficient systems and an uncomfortable living environment.

I’ll share real-life examples from my field experience detailing how I’ve diagnosed and resolved issues. These stories will illuminate the problems and give you relief that if you think your HVAC is dealing with any one of these problems, you’re not alone.


1. Poor Airflow and Air Quality


Photo from an HVAC maintenance in Glenside, PA

Poor airflow and air quality in your home can be a sign of a filter problem.

Over my years of working on HVAC systems in Montgomery County, I’ve seen many families struggle with this issue.

The first sign of poor airflow I often encounter is when clients tell me their home doesn’t feel evenly heated or cooled. Rooms might feel stuffy, or odors linger longer than they should. In one case, a family in Glenside called for an AC Repair complaining about their upstairs feeling significantly warmer than the rest of the house, especially during the summer months. This was a classic sign of poor air circulation, and upon inspection, I discovered several issues contributing to their problem.

The issue was a clogged air filter. Many homeowners overlook the importance of regularly changing their air filters, but it’s one of the simplest ways to maintain good airflow and quality. In this particular home, the old filter was so blocked with dust and debris that it was restricting airflow to the upstairs. I replaced the filter and also recommended they switch to HEPA filters for better allergen control, given their concerns about allergies.

Another common issue affecting air quality is the state of the air ducts themselves. For the family in Glenside, I performed a duct inspection and found several leaks and blockages. Duct leaks can allow dust, pollen, and other contaminants to enter the system and circulate throughout the house, significantly degrading air quality. I sealed the leaks and cleaned the ducts to make sure that clean, cool air could reach every part of their home efficiently.

Poor ventilation can often exacerbate poor air quality. Many older homes in the area are not equipped with modern ventilation systems, which can lead to stale air accumulating pollutants. To address this, I installed a whole-home ventilation system that continuously exchanges stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air. This improved the air quality and helped regulate temperature throughout the house.

After these adjustments, the family noticed an immediate improvement in their comfort. Their house felt fresher, the temperatures were consistent in all rooms, and they were even sleeping better at night.

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2. Refrigerant Leaks


Photo from AC service in Ambler, PA

Refrigerant leaks are among the most critical issues I encounter in HVAC systems throughout Montgomery County. As an HVAC specialist, I’ve handled numerous cases where unnoticed leaks have led to system inefficiency, elevated energy costs, and potential environmental hazards.

One particularly challenging case involved a home in Ambler where the air conditioner started blowing warm air during a heatwave. The homeowner initially thought it was a thermostat issue, but a quick examination revealed that the real problem was a refrigerant leak.

Refrigerant is the lifeblood of any air conditioning system; it’s what cools the air circulated into your living space. When there’s a leak, the system can’t cool effectively, leading to uneven temperatures and increased strain on the compressor. I found the leak in a corroded section of the copper tubing that was part of the outdoor unit. This is a common issue, especially in older systems where the metal can degrade over time.

Fixing a refrigerant leak isn’t just about topping off the refrigerant; it requires finding the leak, repairing or replacing the damaged components, and properly recharging the system with the right type and amount of refrigerant. For this particular job, I used an electronic leak detector, which is a tool that senses the presence of refrigerants in the air and helps pinpoint the leak’s exact location.

Once I identified the leak, I replaced the damaged section of tubing, tested the joints to ensure they were sealed, and then vacuumed the entire system to remove any moisture and air. Moisture in an HVAC system can lead to corrosion and other issues, so it’s crucial to ensure the system is clean before adding new refrigerant. After these steps, I recharged the system with the appropriate refrigerant type specified by the manufacturer.

I also advised the homeowner on the importance of regular maintenance to prevent future leaks. Regular checks can spot potential issues before they turn into major problems, particularly in parts of the system that are susceptible to wear and tear.

After the repair, the difference in the air conditioner’s performance was night and day. The homeowner noticed that the air was cooler, the system was running less frequently, and their next energy bill reflected a more efficient system use.

3. Strange Noises


Photo from a heating repair in Blue Bell, PA

Having worked extensively with HVAC units across Montgomery County, I’ve become quite attuned to the sounds an ailing system can make—from rattles to bangs to whistling sounds—and what they likely signify.

Last fall, a homeowner in Blue Bell called for an HVAC maintenance request after noticing a persistent whistling sound every time the heat kicked in, followed by a loud banging noise when it shut off. These sounds were startling and disruptive to the homeowner.

Upon my arrival, I first listened to the system while it was running to identify the sounds. The whistling noise was a classic symptom of air pressure issues caused by clogged filters or closed vents, which can restrict airflow. In this case, the filter was so saturated with debris that it was nearly impossible for air to pass through efficiently, creating a high-pitched whistle as it forced its way through the limited openings.

The banging noise, on the other hand, turned out to be a different issue. This type of sound often points to what we call “duct popping,” which occurs when there’s a sudden change in pressure within the ductwork, causing it to expand or contract sharply. The age of the home and the ductwork meant that some sections were no longer properly secured, which allowed them to move more than usual.

To address these issues, I started by replacing the dirty air filter with a new high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which helps trap fine particles without restricting airflow. Then, I proceeded to inspect all accessible ducts, securing loose sections and adding insulation around them to minimize noise caused by movement.

Additionally, to address the duct popping, I recommended balancing the ductwork’s air pressure. This involved adjusting dampers to ensure even air distribution and reduce the sudden pressure changes that lead to popping noises. I also advised the homeowner to consider having a more comprehensive duct inspection and possible redesign by a ductwork specialist, as this would provide a long-term solution to the noise and improve the overall efficiency of their heating system.

After making these adjustments and repairs, the system ran significantly quieter. The homeowner was relieved to have the disruptive noises resolved and to understand that these sounds were signals of underlying issues that, left unchecked, could have led to more significant repairs down the line.

4. Dirty Coils


Photo from an HVAC service in Oreland, PA

Dirty coils in an HVAC system can drastically reduce its efficiency and, if not addressed, lead to more serious issues like system failure.

A homeowner in Oreland had called and requested HVAC maintenance after noticing that their air conditioning unit was struggling to cool the house during the peak of summer and was running continuously. Upon inspection, I found that the evaporator and condenser coils were heavily coated in dust and grime.

Coils play a key role in the heat exchange process, and when they are dirty, they cannot transfer heat effectively. This inefficiency forces the system to work harder, which increases energy consumption and can cause other components, like the compressor, to wear out faster.

For this job, I began by explaining to the homeowner the importance of clean coils and how this issue might have developed. Typically, a combination of infrequent filter changes and environmental factors contribute to the accumulation of dirt on coils. In this case, the filters were indeed overdue for a change, and the outdoor unit was located near a garden, exposing it to more airborne particles.

The first step in addressing the problem was to turn off the power. I then proceeded to clean the evaporator coils located inside the air handler. Using a specialized coil cleaner, I carefully applied the solution, allowing it to soak in and loosen the buildup before gently rinsing the coils with low-pressure water. It’s crucial to avoid using high pressure, as this can bend the delicate fins on the coils.

Next, I moved to the outdoor unit where the condenser coils were. I removed debris, such as leaves and twigs, by hand and then repeated the cleaning process with the coil cleaner and water. I also straightened any bent fins using a fin comb, improving airflow and heat exchange efficiency.

After cleaning both sets of coils, I replaced the air filters with new, high-quality ones to help keep the coils cleaner longer. I also advised the homeowner on the importance of regular air filter changes and the potential benefits of investing in an air purification system to reduce the amount of particulate matter entering the HVAC system.


5. Duct Leaks


Throughout my years servicing homes in Montgomery County, I’ve found that addressing duct leaks can significantly enhance system performance and reduce energy costs.

One case that stands out involved a client in Lafayette Hill who complained about uneven temperatures in their home. Some rooms were too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, and their energy bills were suspiciously high. When I visited their home to investigate, I suspected duct leakage, given the symptoms they described.

Ductwork distributes conditioned air throughout your home. When there are leaks, holes, or poorly connected ducts, a significant amount of the air that should be heating or cooling your living spaces escapes, often ending up in attics, crawl spaces, or inside the walls. This makes your HVAC system work harder and wastes a substantial amount of energy.

I performed a duct pressure test, which confirmed significant leakage. The next step was a thorough inspection of the ductwork, during which I found several sections where the seals had degraded, and connections had loosened over time.

Repairing duct leaks involves a few key steps:

  • Sealing the Leaks: I used mastic sealant and metal tape to seal the leaks. Mastic is effective because it forms a durable seal that doesn’t degrade over time, unlike duct tape, which can peel off due to temperature fluctuations.
  • Reinforcing Connections: At joints where ducts connect, I made sure that they were securely fastened and then sealed around these connections to prevent future leaks.
  • Insulating Ducts: In unconditioned spaces like attics and crawl spaces, I added insulation around the ductwork. This helps maintain the air temperature as it travels through the ducts, improving overall system efficiency.

After completing the repairs and retesting the ductwork to ensure no air was escaping, the difference in the client’s home was immediately noticeable. The temperature across different rooms became more consistent, and the HVAC system no longer had to run excessively to maintain comfort.


Your Comfort is That HVAC Guy’s Priority

With years of hands-on experience fixing HVACs in Montgomery County, I’ve realized that there is always an answer for a malfunctioning system.

Each story shared here reflects a commitment to solving those problems and educating homeowners on the importance of regular system maintenance. With the right care, your HVAC system can be a reliable ally against Montgomery County’s varying climate, making it a comfortable and energy-efficient home for years to come.