Ductwork. Yes, most homes have it, but as long as your HVAC system has a high energy efficiency rating, it doesn’t really matter, right? Wrong! Ductwork is a vital component of your home’s comfort, air quality and energy consumption. Every time you flip on the heat or AC, you’re putting your ductwork to work as well. If your system has a bunch of leaks or is just poorly designed in general, you can easily end up with bills that seem much too high for the size of your home.
Ductwork is the maker and breaker of energy savings and whole-home comfort, and like every other aspect of homeownership, you need to know a few things about it before you can access whether it's working properly.
What is ductwork?
Ductwork is like a highway for air throughout your home, taking in air at specific locations, heating or cooling it and sending it back through your vents. It sounds simple enough, but ensuring good airflow, even pressure distribution and efficient air delivery with a forced-air system is quite a challenge. The average home loses 20-40% of conditioned air to leaks before it reaches the vent.
Ductwork comes in a variety of materials including metals, fiberglass and flexible plastics, and in a wide array of shapes that can service any type of home.
How ductwork relates to your HVAC system
Simply put, you won’t have much of an HVAC system if you don’t have any ductwork! Every conventional forced-air heating, ventilation and air conditioning system relies on ductwork to bring the air in and to push it back out.
Good ductwork ensures an equilibrium of air in and air out (referred to as air pressure), through the whole house. If the balance is off, your HVAC system has to work harder to compensate and maintain your preferred temperature.
Ductwork Lifespan and Troubleshooting
Ductwork should last a solid 10-15 years before any signs of deterioration emerge. Because modern homebuilders tend to choose materials for lower cost instead of longevity, it’s good to keep an eye out for the following signs:
- A consistently dusty home. This may mean your ductwork has some leaks in it, letting air out and dust and debris in.
- Inconsistent room temperatures. If some rooms are consistently too hot or too cold compared to the rest of the house, your ductwork may be installed improperly, have tears or kinks, or have issues with air flow.
- Bad install job. If you just have a ton of leaks, your ductwork might have been installed wrong and poorly aligned from day one. A professional HVAC company can help diagnose this issue and make recommendations for how to fix it.
Preserving older ductwork: 3 easy ways
The secret to postponing ductwork replacement is pretty simple: put a little work into your ducts. Depending on your system and any red flags you may notice, you may want to increase the frequency of inspections and services.
Every 2-7 years it is worth getting your air ducts cleaned by professionals. If you notice pet hair, dust and debris collecting regularly on your air intake register, you should definitely consider having your ductwork cleaned out. You’ll likely get a noticeable improvement in air quality, and possibly help your HVAC system run more efficiently.
Buyer beware: don’t skimp on this job. Poorly cleaned ductwork is worse than one gone uncleaned. An unqualified duct cleaner can disrupt more particles than they clean out and even damage parts of your HVAC system.
Heading up to the attic and crawl space to inspect your ductwork on a regular basis can help you spot leaks before they get out of hand. You’re looking for gaps in the aluminum tape that seals the seams on the air ducts, and tears, twists or crushed sections of flexible ductwork. If you see any pest damage or moisture present, seal it off the best you can with aluminum tape and get the pros in there to take care of it before any more damage is done.
When you run cool air to a warm room, the risk of condensation forming in your ductwork is real! Insulating ductwork right up to the point of delivery is your best defense against moisture in your ductwork, and the resulting mold problems! Using foil-lined fiberglass insulation and aluminum tape, insulating your ductwork is a pretty simple weekend project.
3 legitimate reasons to scrap your current ductwork today
- You have a mold issue. Mold is a pervasive problem and should be dealt with by a mold specialist. The air handler on your HVAC system needs to be kept dry, so if you are having issues there, call an HVAC professional for repair.
- Your home was built before 1977 and has asbestos insulation. Asbestos is a cancer-causing fiber present in many homes built before 1977. It is highly dangerous and should only be handled and disposed of by experts with proper equipment.
- Your HVAC system is too big or too small for your ductwork. Too big, you’ll likely notice that it is noisy and loud when it runs. Too small and you’ll notice your home is never really at the temperature you want, no matter how long it runs.
Call the experts for your ductwork
Whether you need some help sealing up and insulating your ductwork or you’re seeking an estimate for a replacing your air ducts entirely, the professionals at John C. Flood can help. Call us 24/7, 365-days a year to schedule service or learn more for your upcoming home improvements.