About Air Duct Leaks
If your HVAC heating hasn’t been up to par this winter, it could be an indication the air conditioning won’t be either this summer. And you know how hot the summers get here in Texas! If your HVAC system has been inspected and you’ve kept the air filter changed every 30 days, then you could have an air duct leak. Testing for this can be done by a professional and is well worth the cost and time!
How do I know if I have bad ductwork?
After some time, air ducts become compromised and can start to leak. As a homeowner, you may not realize this or even know how to find air duct leaks, but not to fear, there are professionals that do know how with duct leak testing procedures. However, there are three key indicators that you should be aware of that are telling you it is time to have professional air duct leak testing done:
- Room Temperatures Inconsistent
When the temperature from room to room is inconsistent, often the problem is restricted airflow and not providing the proper air pressure through the air duct. Leak testing can find the problem areas, or if there are insufficient air ducts.
- Low Air Quality
A clear indicator that there is a problem with the air duct system in your home is noticeable lower air quality and an increase in dust. When the connections are broken or weak in the air duct system, they suck in dust from the attic and that dust blows all over your home. A professional duct leak testing will tell if there are broken or weak duct connections that need to be fixed.
- Leaking Air Ducts
If you can hear air leaking through an air duct, leak testing isn’t necessary other than to determine if there is more than the one leak you’re hearing. Leaking air ducts is making your HVAC system work harder, which is using more electricity and costing you money each month.
How much duct leakage is normal?
Reports from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) show that as much as 30% of the cooled air is lost through air duct leaks. Testing professionals can find these leaks and get that number down to an acceptable 4% or less by showing where air duct repairs, replacements, and sealing are needed.
Is duct sealing worth it?
Absolutely! Not only will air duct leak testing find where your air ducts aren’t performing as they should, by getting them repaired and sealed will lower your cooling and heating costs by up to 20% or more! An added benefit is less dirt and dust in your home, which is always a plus! And, with an air duct sealant job, you’ll be eliminating the growth of mildew, and mold in the air ducts will give your home better indoor air quality too.
What causes duct leakage?
So, while we have discussed how air duct leak testing can help account for air loss in your system, what causes those air duct leaks?
- Age and gravity: Just like the human body, age and gravity are the enemies to air ducts too. With the constant pull of gravity as the ductwork ages, it loosens the seals, and they break. There are several interconnected sections of air ducts that should be sealed with mastic or with metal tape. This will prevent air loss and keep the duct segments connected.
- Detached or loosened: Similarly, the air duct segments should-haves a tight fit at each connection, with special attention to elbows and joints. With age, or if any damage occurs that causes the segments to come apart or loose, most of the cooled or heated air is lost in the attic.
- Ducts installed in unprotected areas: When air ducts are in an unprotected area like the crawl space, it is easier to be damaged. Ideally, air ductwork should be insulated itself and installed so that is diverted away from unprotected areas when possible.
- Lack of fastening: If air duct segments aren’t fastened at every connection, or the fasteners become damaged, they can develop leaks and break apart.
- Critters and rodents: Air ductwork is a haven for small critters and insects. Mice, rats, possums, squirrels, and insects like to nest in the air ducts, and when there is a small break or opening, it makes it easier for them to set up home. This extra weight will break the connections, these unwanted visitors will chew holes through the ductwork, and more.
- Zone pressurization: The rooms in your home develop pressure differences, causing air to leak out of the ductwork. Duct leak testing will also find where there is inadequate supply and return ducts that need professional attention.
Can an air duct leak water?
Yes, this is condensation that builds up during the summer months when the air conditioning is working at its optimum performance. This may not seem like a big issue but left unaddressed, you can expect the following possible detrimental problems.
- Dripping Insulation: The condensation dripping will affect and damage the attic and ductwork insulation, reducing the R-value, and making it less efficient.
- Water Leakage: With air conditioning duct condensation, the moisture will lead to leaks in the ceilings and walls, weakening the structure of your home.
- Mildew and Mold: Moisture building up around the air ducts leads to mildew and mold, creating a health hazard in your home. Anyone in your home that has a high sensitivity to mildew and mold will be affected, and anyone with asthma, rhinitis or other breathing issues will be affected.
- Fire Hazard: Yes, water is used to put out fires, but it can also cause a fire when it is dripping on electrical wiring.
How long does ductwork last?
The air ductwork in most homes can last up to 15 years maximum. Professional air duct leak testing is recommended every 3 to 5 years and annually after 10 years. A professional air duct leak testing company will usually have knowledge of how to fix air duct leaks with the proper materials.
Keeping It Where It Counts: Are leaking ducts in your home costing you money?
Yes, a leaking air duct system is costing you money in energy bills and very possibly costing you doctor visits and medications. Will air duct leak testing and repairs cost you too? Absolutely, but that expense will be re-cooped with lower energy bills!
ACT Home Energy Specialists provides complete air duct leak testing in Fort Worth, TX. Call 817-781-8781 to get scheduled.