How Tighter Ductwork Can Help You Save Money
If your home is like most other houses in the U.S., you might be losing up to 20 percent of your heated or cooled air to leaking ductwork every time you run your forced-air system. Needless to say, these energy leaks drive up your monthly bills and make your home less comfortable.
Ductwork that is more than 10 years old has a significantly higher chance of energy-wasting leaks. However, even newer ducts may lack efficiency due to leaks. These leaks can be caused by a variety of factors. For starters, when the HVAC system turns off and on, it causes pressure changes inside the ducts. Over time, these pressure changes can loosen joints and cause leaks to develop. Sometimes pests can widen small leaks and make them major. Water can also damage your air ducts.
How Can You Tell if Your Ductwork Is Leaking?
Here are a few things to look for:
- Your utility bills are higher than they should be, for no apparent reason. This becomes especially noticeable at the height of winter or summer.
- Some rooms remain hot in summer or cold in winter, no matter how much you change the thermostat setting.
- A room remains stuffy and never seems comfortable any time of year. Humidity may build up on the inside of windows.
- You can see daylight when you peer into the vents. That means there are holes in the ducts.
- There are tangled or kinked flexible ducts in your HVAC system. These ducts should be gently curved with no sharp angles or kinks.
- There is no air or very little air coming out of some vents, especially in the uncomfortable rooms.
What Are the Benefits of Repairing Leaky Ducts?
The money you invest into repairing the leaks will be well worth it as you will gain the following benefits:
- Save money. When you fix those leaks your system will run more efficiently and use less energy. This in turn translates into lower energy bills year-round.
- Make your entire home more comfortable. When your ductwork is leak-free and working properly, stuffy rooms will transform into comfortable ones.
- Improve indoor air quality. Leaks not only let air escape from ducts. They allow pollutants to come in your home. Insulation particles, cooking fumes and dust are just a few of the things that can get into the air circulating through your home.
- Prevent combustion fumes from backdrafting into the ventilation system. Leaky ducts can allow backdrafting that pulls fumes into the ductwork. One example is carbon monoxide from a gas-burning furnace. This is can be deadly.
- Make your home more environmentally friendly. By lowering your energy use, you are using fewer fossil fuels and contribute to preserving the earth.
What's the Best Way to Repair Leaky Ductwork?
There are two main options: doing the work yourself or hiring a professional to do it. Doing it yourself is not as easy as it might sound. Some ducts may be in areas that you cannot reach, such as behind walls and finished basement ceilings. For those areas that you can reach, the best repair materials are quality metal tape and mastic sealant. The metal tape will reinforce corners and edges. The mastic sealant is good for sealing larger gaps that the tape cannot bridge. Make sure the connections between vents and ducts are tight. Don't use standard duct tape; it's adhesive seal won't hold with the frequent temperature changes.
A better option is hiring a professional HVAC contractor to handle the duct repairs. The contractor has special equipment and tools to examine ducts in inaccessible areas. He can give you a thorough assessment of your duct network and what repairs are necessary. In some cases, the contractor may recommend replacing certain sections that are beyond repair. The contractor may also recommend some modifications to make your ducts more efficient.
If you need ductwork repairs or want to talk to someone about a duct examination, contact us here at Comfort24-7. We have dealers in Chicago, northwest Indiana, and southwest Michigan to help you with your duct issues.
Written by Randy Gailit