Ever have that feeling that your furnace or AC just doesn’t seem to be working as well as it used to? But you’ve checked the filters, stayed up to date on regular maintenance, even cleaned your grills and still something’s not right? It could be that your air ducts are leaking. This article will help you decide if that’s what the problem is — and if so, how to solve it.
Air Duct Leaking is Common
According to Energy Star, the typical home has at least some duct tears, holes, or poor connections that result in leaking. That can result in a loss of as much as 20 to 30 percent of the air circulation through your home. Not only will that cause poor heating and cooling, but it will also eat away at your energy budget!
Clues That Your Ducts Are Leaking
There are some telltale signs that you may have some duct leaking — especially if everything else checks out. These warning signs may include:
- Uneven heating or cooling
- Higher than usual energy bills when your usage is the same
- Rooms feel stuffy or show more dust than normal
- Some of your ductwork is in an enclosed space like the attic or a crawlspace
- Parts of your ductwork look kinked or twisted
- You can see or hear air escaping from your ductwork
Steps to Identify the Problem
- If you suspect duct issues, start by thoroughly inspecting the entire system. Watch for tears, holes, gaps in connections, twists or kinks. Be sure to check ductwork in the attic or crawlspaces.
- If you’ve already noticed kinks or heard air leaking, make note of where. Then look over the entire system — there could be issues elsewhere, not just in obvious areas.
- Keep a record of what you discover. An easy way is to take your phone along and snap pictures of the problem areas you find.
- If you prefer, you can always call an HVAC professional to do the inspection for you.
Duct Sealing to Solve the Problem
Sealing your duct system is the first line of defense for leaks. You can take that on as a DIY project using mastic sealant or metal tape. (Energy Star cautions against using duct tape, which does not last long.) But before you dive in, keep in mind that leaks are often in hard to reach places like crawl spaces or attics, and that sealing — especially with mastic — can be a very messy job.
So if DIY doesn’t appeal to you, you may want to have an HVAC pro take a look at your system. There are additional advantages in doing so. First, they can do a thorough inspection and advise if sealing is your best approach. There may be other solutions, like partial replacement or upgrades to your system. A professional will also be able to assess if duct leaking is the only thing contributing to your system’s inefficiency and advise on any other maintenance or repairs you may need.
Whether you tackle duct sealing on your own or work with an HVAC pro, you’ll be adding to your home’s comfort, saving on energy bills, and adding to your family’s overall health and peace of mind.
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