Most American homes want to reduce their energy consumption to save money without compromising on indoor comfort. If you think that’s not possible, allow us to enlighten you with a bare fact – it is estimated that American homes lose approximately 30% of heating and cooling energy through damaged ductwork. It means your residential HVAC system is overworking to compensate for that 30% loss which could very well translate to energy savings.
Ducts are fragile tube-like structures that can be easily damaged. The damage may occur in the form of gaps, tears, or holes in its framework through which treated air escapes. So the main question that arises is – “How does the ductwork get damaged?” To answer your question, here are the ways in which the ducts may spoil:
1. Old Ducts – If the home is very old, there is a high possibility the original ductwork would have gone bad due to natural degradation of the duct material. As it is, the choice of materials used for building the ducts was very limited earlier. The materials that were used then went through age-based wear and tear, compounded by temperature differences and humidity. Hence, the ductwork would start spoiling as it got older.
2. Pest And Critter Infestation – People who live around the woods or have a vast spread of natural green areas around their home would have at one time, or another suffered through infestation by small animals. These animals find the ducts safe and make a home inside them. Sometimes they chew through the ducts, and at others, their sharp nails would tear through it, all of which lead to the same result – damaged ducts.
3. Careless Handling – Ducts are fragile and require careful handling. Failing to do so will surely damage the ducts. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that trained and certified professionals only conduct duct cleaning and other related activities.
How To Know If Your Homes Ducts Are Damaged?
The homeowners can’t see damaged ducts because they are hidden behind the side walls or the ceiling. Moreover, the network of ducts is extensive as it runs throughout the house, so pinpointing leaks and tears is the work of professionals only. Nevertheless, the residents can still guess something might be wrong with the ducts if they monitor their indoor environment. Here are a few signs that indicate problems with the ducts:
1. Uneven Indoor Temperatures – In every room of the house, the temperature should be as per the thermostat setting. If one room feels warm and another cold, you might be facing duct issues. Typically, when air escapes from the ducts, a sufficient amount of treated air is not reaching indoors. As a result, temperature differences occur.
2. Spike In Utility Bills – If you see a gradual or sudden spike in utility bills, despite keeping on top of the regular HVAC maintenance schedule, it means there may exist problematic ductwork. But to zero in on the ducts, you will first have to rule out other HVAC problems. Consequently, the person you need is an HVAC technician.
3. Feeling Of Stuffiness When Indoors – If the ducts are filthy or have any buildups inside, the airflow will be affected. One of the ways in which you will register the problem is when you or other family members start feeling stuffy inside the house. The stuffiness comes from the fact that the airflow is insufficient and sluggish.
Countering Damaged Ducts
There are two ways in which any homeowner can ensure that there is minimal damage to the ducts. These are:
1. Professional Duct Testing – You could try testing your home’s ductwork, but soon you will realize you can only do a superficial job. Testing the ducts requires knowledge, expertise, appropriate equipment, and care. All of these demands can only be met by professional duct testing experts. An expert will ideally use a blaster to pressurize the ductwork, measure the air loss, and also identify the places from where it is escaping. The correct course of action is decided based on the test results and a visual inspection.
2. Professional Duct Cleaning – There will come a time when you will feel the need to get the ductwork cleaned. When that time comes, do ensure that the duct cleaning is done only by professionals. As we said earlier, ducts are fragile. If you don’t take care, the damage will happen in the blink of an eye. A professional knows this fact and works accordingly. However, those who want to make a quick buck are only trying to finish the job as quickly as possible without caring a bit about the problems they create.
Seal Ducts To Save Money
There are many ways in which the damage to the ducts is handled. It could include any of the following options:
1. Replacing that portion of the ductwork that cannot be repaired.
2. Sealing the holes, leaks, cracks, and broken connections with industrial-grade sealants.
3. Repairing those specific sections of the ductwork that have separated from each other.
Although sealing the points of leaks is the most money-saving option, you should rely on the advice of the technician. They speak from experience and will never guide you wrong. Sometimes it is best to spend a little more and take concrete action rather than continuously spending on quick and cheap fixes.
The ducts are a core part of a ducted HVAC system. If they are not in tip-top shape, your HVAC system will also not work optimally. The energy loss that will happen from damaged ductwork will increase the power bills. The only way to ensure that does not happen is through periodic testing of the ductwork. If and when you require duct cleaning services, only permit professionals to handle the job. Do not fall for scams, as they will probably cause more harm than do any real good. It is normal for ducts to get damaged over time. So don’t panic at the additional expense. More often than not, all your ducts may require is some super strong glue. Take care of your ducts, and your ducts will take care of you.