'Duct And Cover': Sealing And Insulate Your Ductwork From Leakage?
If testing and sealing your home’s ductwork is not already on your deep cleaning checklist, let this be a friendly wake-up call that could not only save you money, but also sustain your peace of mind and the environmental quality of your living space.
What are we talking about? How much maintenance do you really have to do on air conditioning ducts? Ductwork is easy to forget about, but it is a crucial component you won’t want to forget if energy efficiency, utility costs, and domestic comfort are among your goals.
Did You Know?
Modern ductwork is not permanent and its constituent materials will develop periodic leaks. In addition to wasting your conditioned air and money, leaks let contaminants into ducts, creating clogged and potentially hazardous conduits for the air that residents must breathe.
Even a very small duct leak can easily become a major threat to the entire home’s energy efficiency. In fact, up to a third of the energy used to cool and heat your home can be wasted through a single leak.
Ductwork should also be properly insulated, especially if it passes through an un-conditioned or vented area like an attic or crawlspace. Fresh insulation does wonders for retaining heat that would otherwise dribble away into uninhabited areas.
Yet duct insulation, too, eventually wears out. Insulation that wasn’t properly installed to begin with can also be a problem. Conducting a simple insulation check when you have your ducts tested for leaks is an easy way to avert costly energy losses.
When To Test + Seal
When should you test your ducts for leaks and poor insulation? Experts recommend testing once a year; whenever you install a new HVAC system or order a tune-up; and when you notice any of the telltale symptoms of leaky ducts.
These symptoms include: rooms with mismatched temperatures, a surprisingly steep energy bill, an unusually dirty furnace filter, an excessively noisy cooling system, or rising dust and humidity conditions inside the home.
Most people, apart from serious do-it-yourselfers, hire an HVAC professional to test for leaks, mechanically seal them, and evaluate system performance. An experienced technician can accurately gauge air flow relative to normal operating pressure, enabling quick and precise identification of duct leaks.
If the test and seal is done properly, you will notice immediate improvements in the temperature balance between rooms, overall air quality and comfort, and the sums on your utility bills.