Maybe you’re experiencing this scenario: some rooms in your house are not heating or cooling as well as others, and your electric bill is high in spite of the inefficacy. Before you think about throwing in the towel and purchasing a brand new air conditioner or heat pump, you’ll want to consider another possible solution. It involves a part of your home that is less often thought of, but that is just as integral to your HVAC system as the condenser or evaporator units – your air ducts.
Leaky ducts are often the invisible culprit of inefficient heating and cooling. Your duct system, containing “tunnels” made of sheet metal, fiberglass, or flexible plastic, run throughout your home’s attic or walls. These ducts are responsible for delivering conditioned air to your rooms through supply registers, and then returning unconditioned air through grilles. The problem is this: if the ducts should develop a leak, or if they were poorly constructed to begin with, much of the air that is being transported through the system can be lost to the outside. This contributes to higher utility bills and more energy usage as the HVAC system has to work harder to cool or heat your home. EnergyStar estimates that leaky ducts cause about a 20% increase in energy usage 1. In fact, a 1 square inch gap in your duct work can cause about as much air loss as a 20 square inch hole in the side of your house!
Besides losing air to the outside, holes in ducts can also pull contaminants like dust or fumes into your home through the supply ducts, causing air quality issues. So what can be done about this problem? The answer is to seal your ducts. Many times, depending on the type of ductwork in your home, your ducts may have sagged, pinching off the airflow; they may be cracked, or even have separated from the registers. They must be re-sealed with air-tight Mastic, an adhesive approved for such usage, bound together with metal fasteners, and properly insulated. Despite its name, duct tape is never to be used in sealing ductwork, as it is unable to withstand the extremes of hot and cold air traveling through the ducts.
Before considering duct sealing, however, it is first important to check for other leak possibilities in the visible areas of your home. Air tends to escape through window casings, doorframes, and electrical outlets, so seal off those areas first if you suspect them of leakage. Also, be sure that none of the air registers and/or grilles are blocked by furniture. Regularly removing dust from the registers is also a good practice to keep the air flowing freely.
When it comes to duct sealing, although a do-it-yourselfer may be able to seal off easily-accessible ducts, it is recommended to call a professional HVAC company. Kobie Complete Heating & Cooling offers expert duct sealing, as well as duct cleaning in Sarasota and the surrounding areas. We can properly test for leaks in your ducts, and professionally seal and repair them. Also, only a professional HVAC company can ensure that, after sealing the ducts, appliances like your water heater are venting properly and not “backdrafting” dangerous carbon monoxide into your duct system.
Overall, the benefits of duct sealing are manifold. Having your ducts professionally sealed will almost certainly pay for itself in energy savings, and will also promote home comfort by way of uniform temperature-control and less outside contaminants. If your air conditioner is due for an upgrade, you may even be able to get away with a smaller, less expensive unit than you would have previously needed. So don’t be content with inefficiency – call Kobie Complete today and ask about duct sealing.