The size and design of your ductwork, its state of repair and other factors can all add or detract from your home comfort — not to mention your utility bills. Improving the performance of your ductwork doesn’t necessarily mean getting a new system or major renovations. You can work with what you’ve got to save energy and improve comfort.
Here's how to get started:
- Seal your ductwork. Leaky ducts can waste about 20 percent of conditioned air in the typical home, according to Energy Star. This occurs when duct connections become loose and air flows into uninsulated areas. Ducts can also rip, tear or kink. Check any accessible ductwork in spaces such as the attic, garage or crawl space, and seal leaks with mastic. This is a gooey substance that will harden after application. Straighten out kinks in flex ducts, and reattach disconnected joints with aluminum tape. (NOTE: "Duct " tape should not be used on ducts. I know this is contradictive, but experience shows that this tape will not not last long in most applications. Duct tape has many good uses, just not on ductwork!)
- Insulate the sheet metal. Energy loss occurs when heat transfers directly through the metal of the ducts. Quality insulation can prevent this.
- Consider installing a zoning system. Zoned heating and cooling involves a series of dampers installed in the air distribution system that can be controlled through a thermostat in each zone. If you’d like a specific area of the home to be warmed, but don’t want to waste energy warming the rest of the house, the dampers will only open on the desired area. Zoning systems save energy by allowing you to direct conditioned air only where it’s needed.
- Have your ducts cleaned. If you’ve never had duct cleaning, you may want to consider it. Efficiency can be reduced by the layers of dust and dirt that naturally accumulate on sheet metal and comfort system components.
- Upgrade your return grilles. Advanced models have more or wider slats to facilitate the return of air from the rooms in your home to your HVAC equipment, improving circulation throughout the house. Often we find these grilles are blocked by furniture and bedding — make sure they are clear and can do their job.
Paul Wadsworth is the President and Owner of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling. For 37 years, Paul has been providing heating and cooling services to the Greater Cleveland area. P.K. Wadsworth has been a trusted Cleveland HVAC service company for 75 years. The company understand the area's construction and local heating and air conditioning needs. Paul has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a B.S., Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. He's been President of the Cleveland Air Conditioning Contractors of America and a founding member of the local chapter. Paul was born and raised in Cleveland and has been active in the local community. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two sons.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.