Ductwork distributes air from your heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment throughout your indoor spaces. When this component of your HVAC system is in good shape, you’ll be able to stay comfortable at home and maintain healthy indoor air quality. A common problem that ducts experience are leaks, which can cause issues such as higher energy costs and discomfort.
Keep on reading to learn about the signs of duct leaks as well as ways to track them down.
What Are Duct Leaks?
While your ductwork is essential in keeping your home comfortable, it’s one of the most overlooked components of air conditioning and heating systems. When a duct leak occurs, conditioned air leaks through gaps, cracks and the seams of the ducts before it reaches your living spaces. Experts suggest that most homes leak around 10 to 25 percent of their conditioned air.
Moreover, there are three basic types of duct leakage. First is supply leaks, which is where supply air ducts leak and airflow from the equipment to the living spaces decreases. Second is equipment leakage, which is usually the most overlooked.
With this type of leak, components such as coil and furnace cabinets have seams that either suck or blow air. When not sealed, the seams can cause a decrease in airflow.
Lastly, there’s return leakage. This is when unconditioned air in areas like attics and wall cavities get sucked into the ventilation system and transported back to the equipment. This extra load can put a strain on your HVAC system because it conditioning air from unconditioned spaces instead of just reconditioning air.
How Do You Know if Your Ducts Are Leaking?
Increased energy bills. Have you noticed an increase in your energy bills? An HVAC issue is likely causing this problem. Once your air ducts start to leak, your equipment will transport conditioned air into your basement, attic and other unwanted areas. As a result, your HVAC system will consume more energy, which will result in higher energy bills.
Hot and cold spots. Other common signs of duct leaks are hot and cold spots. These occur in areas of your house that are harder to cool or warm than others. There’s a good chance that air duct leaks are causing this problem unless there’s a steady flow of outside air into the room or it receives a lot of direct sunlight. Moreover, if there weren’t any leaks,your cooling and heating systems would be able to reach the desired temperatures easily.
Dust around your home. Leaking ductwork will pull dust from other areas of your home like the basement and attic, and bring them into other rooms. This can trigger allergy attacks and bring a significant amount of dust around your home. If you’ve noticed that your home gets dusty easily, it’s a good idea to have your ductwork checked for leaks.
Ways to Locate Leaks
Run your HVAC system at full blast. It will be difficult to locate obvious leaks unless your heating and air conditioning system is blowing air while you check your ducts. When looking for leaks, turn your HVAC system on full blast. Doing so will increase the amount of airflow, which will help you locate leaks easier.
Look for apparent leaks. Check your ducts for obvious tears and mark problem areas with a grease pencil. Marking these spots will allow you to return and address the leaks after you’re done inspecting the system.
Check to see if there’s duct tape. Despite its name, duct tape isn’t meant to seal most ducts. It’s not a permanent fix, which means any problem areas will eventually start causing trouble again. You should have the duct tape removed if someone previously used it and have the leaks sealed properly by a professional. At Acker Heating & Cooling, you can count on us for quality duct sealing services. We’re one of the best residential and commercial HVAC companies in the area.
Pay attention to the duct joints. Duct joints are one of the most leak-prone parts of your ductwork. These are the areas where two air ducts meet. You’ll know there’s a leak if you put your hand near the joints and feel air coming out. Running a hand under other parts of the ductwork also enables you to check for larger leaks.
Use incense or a smoke pencil. A stick of incense, a smoke pencil or anything that produces visible smoke is useful in locating duct leaks. When the flame and smoke runs across leaks, you’ll notice that the smoke is pulled into the air duct. These less obvious leaks must be marked with a grease pencil so they can be properly addressed later.
Why Address Leaks ASAP?
Save on energy bills. By sealing duct leaks immediately, you can help reduce energy loss in your home. Your heating or air conditioning system doesn’t need to work as hard to reach your thermostat setting, which results in lower energy bills.
Avoid costly HVAC repairs. Duct leaks can increase the likelihood of HVAC problems. Your system may start experiencing issues if it continues running due to air leaks, even if it hasn’t been long since its installation. Leaks can also cause debris to settle in your HVAC system, which can contribute to frequent breakdowns.
Maintain good indoor air quality. Since leaking ducts can suck up dust, dirt and other debris from your crawl space, they can also affect your indoor air quality. You don’t want these contaminants in your home, especially if someone in the family suffers from allergies or asthma.
Also, this debris clogs your air filter faster, meaning you have to get new ones more frequently. Failure to change your filter when it’s clogged or dirty can cause your indoor air quality to suffer. It can also result in higher utility costs since your heating and cooling equipment will need to exert more effort to push air through the filters.
Whether you have a residential or commercial HVAC system, Acker Heating & Cooling is here to help. We’re a leading provider of high-quality heating and cooling services. Give us a call at (706) 715-2607 or fill out our contact form to schedule a service.