As early as 1950 in Sweden, leaking ductwork was identified as a major concern for heating system efficiency. Today, duct air-tightness is still a topic of interest among HVAC professionals. For homes in the Cleveland area, ductwork modifications may help prevent severe energy losses from leaks, insulation breakdowns, loose seals, or collapsed airflow.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 20% of the conditioned air in a typical American home’s HVAC system is lost between the air handler and its destination because of leaking ducts. How can you improve your percentages?
Before arriving at the supply registers inside the home, heated or cooled air must flow securely through the duct system- most often constructed of sheet metal ducts and connectors (fittings). Leaks will allow your conditioned air to “leak” into the non-living spaces in the walls and house cavities. Not only is this an expensive waste, it means that less of the air you want gets delivered into your rooms.
From the air handler, all joints and seams in the ducts plus the connections to the registers must be properly leak-proofed for your system to efficiently deliver the conditioned air you pay for, when and where you want it.
Ducts are most often run through non-conditioned air spaces, like attics or crawl spaces, where they are exposed to extreme temperatures. They can only work as well as their insulation. A minimum rating of R6 or R8 is encouraged for ductwork insulation.
A certified HVAC tech can add a new layer of insulation on the outside of your existing ductwork which will protect your delivered-air temperature accordingly.
Another potential problem in your ductwork is older, inner insulation which has broken down and fallen into the duct space and obstructing the flow of air. Ductwork inspections should pinpoint any possible debris blockages, which can then be removed.
Oddly enough, the ever-popular “duct-tape” is not the right product for this job- it simply does not hold up over time and you will find yourself redoing the task in short order. With a metal tape or paint on mastic sealant, most existing ducts can be improved and rejuvenated by re-sealing. While this can be a weekend, do-it-yourself task, be sure to check with your certified HVAC technician for any major repairs.
P.K. Wadsworth services the Greater Cleveland, OH area including cities Chagrin Falls, Shaker Heights, Eastlake or anywhere in between. To get started, check out our website.