Your ductwork plays a critical role in your home. You rely on it to distribute air to properly heat and cool it, and to make sure the air is clean and pure. If there is a problem with the ductwork, not only will it impact the ability of your HVAC system to keep your home comfortable and the air clean, but it could increase your energy costs and shorten the life of your air conditioner and furnace.
Periodic cleaning of ducts is one way to make sure your ductwork is in good shape. But you should also annually check for other issues. Depending on your comfort level, you can perform some of these yourself or have a professional do it.
Torn or crushed flexible ducts
Torn ducts obviously prevent warm or cool air (depending on the season) from reaching your entire house, making your home less comfortable and driving up energy costs. Ducts in the attic and crawlspace are sometimes composed of a flexible material that moves as air passes through it. Over time, this movement may tear the ducts. Check to see if the ducts are sagging, and if so, secure them before they tear.
Similarly, ducts can be crushed. Look at the ductwork to determine whether it is crushed.
Ducts lying on the floor
These ducts in your crawlspace or attic are sometimes placed on the floor. Two problems with this: rodents can get inside; and water can cause damage. Make sure your ducts are off the floor.
Leaks caused by cracks, splits or bad connections are a huge problem. It is estimated that 25% of every dollar spent on cooling can be lost through leaky ducts. Check for leaks by turning on your system and feel for escaping air. You can also look for black marks on the duct’s insulation, especially around joints. These marks are caused by dirt collecting around air leaks. If you decide to seal the leaks yourself, use metal foil tape that is specifically designed for ducts. Do not use duct tape; it will deteriorate over time. As a matter of fact, if there is any duct tape on the ductwork, remove it and replace it with the metal foil tape.
Insulate exposed ductwork with R-4 or higher duct wrap. This is especially important for ductwork in unconditioned spaces. Insulation can come loose over time, especially if was not properly installed. If you see loose insulation, secure it with foil tape. Also, if you see stained insulation, that is another sign you may have leaks. If so, remove the stained insulation and repair the leak as mentioned above. Then replace the insulation.
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