The furnace and A/C system often take full credit for efficient heating and cooling, but it’s the air ducts that bear the responsibility of air distribution to the living spaces. This means your home comfort systems, as far as energy bills are concerned, are only as efficient as the ductwork. Read on to learn the signs and symptoms of aging or inadequate duct work and how to best treat those ailing joints, run-outs and trunk.
Aging Duct Work: Signs and Symptoms
Ducts endure consistent and significant air pressure through the years, which explains why ductwork can easily fall into disrepair without regular checkups. Poor original installation & design may be a factor, too, considering the ductwork in your home may have been installed by the lowest bidder. Use these "look, listen and feel" tips to get started:
- Visual - Visually inspect accessible ducts in the attic, basement or crawl space for disconnected or loose joints, fallen ducts, holes, damaged and tangled portions.
- Noise - Rattling and clamoring noises are sure signs of loose joints.
- Feel - Air pressure at the supply outlets should be consistent through the home.
- Leaks - Air ought to only come out of grilles- not leak from the ducts. so check any exposed ducts for significant air leaks. Strangely, "duct tape" is poor choice for sealing duct work!
Duct Repair: DIY or Professional
If you feel comfortable going up into the attic or down into crawl space to inspect and potentially repair aging air ducts, then you’ll need a few simple tools: mastic, metal tape and batts or rigid board.
- Mastic—Seal leaks and loose connections with mastic sealant specified for duct work. Be sure to follow the instructions for preparing the surface.
- Metal tape—An alternate to mastic is metal tape (again, specified for the job) not just any tape.
- Insulation—Ductwork in unconditioned spaces (e.g. attic and crawl space) should be insulated to block energy losses (heat gain/loss) through thin duct walls. Check local codes for the minimum R-value for you locale.
Professional ductwork testing pays in the long run. Specialized equipment, such as a blower door test, is used to test for tiny leaks and for balanced air pressure through the ducts and living spaces. You’ll also benefit from the experience of an expert’s eye for detail. This is usually part of a whole home energy audit that is a great starting place in evaluating a plan of attack for your home. Ask your HVAC pro to take a look at your ducts during your next furnace or A/C inspection.
For more details about detecting and repairing aging ductwork in your greater Cleveland home, contact P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling.Follow @PKwadsworth
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 over 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. Paul is the Chairman of COSE's Energy Advisory Council. 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.