Did you know that approximately 25% of the air in your HVAC ductwork is lost as a result of leaks and poorly fitted ducts?
This can translate into hundreds of dollars wasted each year.
Luckily, there are solutions to this problem. You can either upgrade your ductwork or consider air duct replacement services.
It is imperative to do something when it comes to the condition of your ducts before it’s too late. Keep reading to find out how to spot ductwork problems and what to do in such cases.
Why HVAC Ductwork Is So Important?
When people are considering their HVAC system, they often overlook the ducts.
This can be a costly mistake. The ducts pull air from various parts of your house to be heated or cooled and then they conduct it back to other parts of your house.
If the ductwork is poorly connected or has multiple holes, air pressure is lost. This makes your HVAC system work harder which increases your energy bill.
Ducts are designed to last for about 10-15 years on average. They are made from a combination of materials such as fiberglass and plastic.
At some point, these ducts will get damaged. The sooner you see signs of damage and do something about it, the better. That’s because you avoid spending too much on your energy bill and prevent more costly repair projects.
When ducts get damaged, your comfort level will drop significantly. For example, your air conditioning unit might not be that efficient and you’ll end up with cold or hot spots in certain rooms. Obviously, you can do things to make your AC unit more efficient, but it's important to fix the ducts first and avoid more complicated problems.
Similarly, damaged ducts can also push toxic air through the vents because of mold and mildew problems. Having your HVAC ducts maintained properly is paramount for your health and quality of life.
Signs That You Need Air Duct Replacement
Here are a few important signs to look for to determine if your ducts need repair or replacement.
1. Noisy HVAC Operation
Your HVAC system is designed to make noise while working, but the sound shouldn’t be annoyingly loud.
If you constantly hear rattling sounds or if the HVAC ductwork is vibrating too much when heating or cooling your house then you need to inspect the ducts.
Remember that the ducts in your house are connected using plastic or fiberglass joints. If these joints get damaged, you’ll often hear rattling or whistling sounds.
If there are holes in the ductwork, you’ll also hear loud noises when air circulates through the ducts. don’t ignore this noise because it can only get worse.
2. High Energy Bills
It’s normal for some air to escape when traveling through your ducts.
However, when more than 20% of air escapes, you’ll eventually see this reflected on your energy bill.
The reason is simple. You turn the thermostat to a certain level to enjoy a warm home. The indoor temperature gets higher, but not sufficiently enough. That’s because a lot of air is escaping, so the HVAC system is inefficient.
This inefficiency is what makes you pay more for your energy bill because the HVAC system eventually has to work harder to heat or cool down your house.
If you know you haven’t installed a lot of electronics in your house recently (laptops, computers, kitchen appliances, etc) then the spike in your energy bill might be caused by leaky ductwork.
3. Uneven Heating or Cooling
Homeowners might discover that one or more rooms in the house are improperly warmed or cooled down, in comparison with the rest of the house.
This can be caused by faulty ductwork which doesn’t send enough air to certain parts of your home.
You can easily verify this using an indoor thermometer. If the differences in temperature are clearly off the scale, you need to inspect your ducts right away. This problem might be caused because a duct has huge leaks in it. The air will escape through these leaks and it will not be able to warm up or cool down a particular area of your room.
4. Having A Dusty Home
It’s almost impossible to get rid of dust. It can be found everywhere, both indoors and outdoors.
However, if you see that there is simply too much dust in your house, this problem might be caused by damaged ductwork.
Well, dust from outside the ducts is getting inside through holes and leaks. The HVAC ductwork then carries this dust to the vents and disperses it throughout your house.
If you sneeze more often than usual, you might have a very dusty home and the culprit can be faulty ductwork. It's important to do something about it right away, otherwise, you risk developing cardiovascular diseases.
5. Smelling Mold and Mildew in Your House
In a similar fashion, mold and mildew problems can also be caused by poorly connected or poorly insulated ducts.
Mold and mildew appear as a result of uneven temperatures inside and outside the HVAC ductwork. For example, when warm air travels through cold ducts, condensation can appear. Over a period of several weeks or months, mold and mildew can develop and you'll smell it when the air is pushed into your house through vents.
Mold and mildew can cause a lot of health problems and they can drastically deteriorate your furniture items, so make sure that you inspect your ductwork right away if you smell mold in your house.
6. Having A Problem with Pests
Apart from mold and mildew, old and damaged ductwork might also cause a pest infestation.
This happens because of the leaks and holes in your ductwork which allows bugs and rodents to enter. These pests can easily establish colonies and cause a lot of problems in the long run.
Some of the problems caused by pest include unpleasant smells, spreading of bacteria and microbes, making weird noises in the middle of the night, etc.
On top of that, your HVAC system can also get damaged if bugs or rodents cause blockages in the ductwork. What to do in this case? Simple - just inspect your ductwork thoroughly. If you see signs of pest infestation, you need professional help to both fix the ducts and get rid of pests.
7. Having Respiratory Problems
Do you or your family members sneeze often?
How about allergies or weird coughs which are not associated with colds or flu?
Keep in mind that leaks in your ductwork can facilitate the entering of allergens such as pollen and small dust fragments.
Pollen is known to cause allergies in most people, particularly in those who also suffer from asthma problems. You should do your best to inspect the ductwork and fix leaks and holes before they ruin the indoor air quality. Other impurities which cause allergies are cigarette smoke, lint, pet hair and so on.
8. Seeing Debris Around The Vents
The vents are designed to push hot or cold air inside your house, depending on your needs.
However, if the air is too dirty, it will eventually leave small marks around the vents. This is usually done over a long period of time and you might not notice it at first.
The debris is created as a result of an accumulation of dust, dirt, lint, pet hair, even small insects. This is not only an aesthetic problem, but a surefire sign that your ductwork requires a proper inspection right away.
9. Tangled Ducts
Kinked or tangled ducts can also prevent your HVAC system from working correctly and causing high energy bills.
Ducts can get damaged or tangled for various reasons. For example, something heavy might have fallen on your ducts such as a rock or tree branch. This might make the duct twist in an abnormal angle and restrict airflow. On top of restricting airflow, ducts can also develop holes and leaks.
You should look for tangled or kinked ducts particularly in your basement, garage or attic since this is where most of the problems appear.
10. Very Old Ductwork
Having old ducts can cause problems at some point in the future.
Even if your ductwork appears to be working normally now, you never know when issues start to appear. Especially if your house was built back in the seventies and it relies on asbestos insulation (which is a cancer-causing material), you need to inspect your ducts right away.
Duct installation methods have been improved in the last years. New, more efficient and safer materials are used to install and insulate your HVAC ductwork. By not upgrading your pipes, you risk wasting money and putting your health in danger.
How To Fix Your Ductwork
If your ducts present one or more of the aforementioned signs of damage, you need to take a closer look at them.
In some cases, it's not necessary to perform a complete HVAC duct replacement project, but just to fix one or two faulty pipes.
For example, you might want to seal, insulate, or just clean your ducts to solve the problem. Let’s talk about these improvements in greater detail.
1. Cleaning Your Ducts
This is the simplest improvement you can make and it’s usually the least expensive.
You might want to look at your ducts once every few years and try to give them a thorough cleaning. Pipes can get clogged with pet hair, debris, birds droppings, dust, dirt and even mold and mildew in worst cases.
These impurities can cause blockages which will make your HVAC system work harder and compromise the indoor air quality. The cleaning project involves using special cleaning solutions and tools. A ductwork cleaning project is done by a professional team who can get the job done in a single day in most cases.
2. Sealing Your Ducts
Sealing your ducts is also a good idea to prevent bigger and more expensive problems.
For example, you can seal the ducts at their connection points. Most homeowners use aluminum tape to seal their ducts, but you can also use other materials.
The idea of sealing your ducts is to cover big holes or leaks and prevent further damage. This is a temporary solution which can be done once a year. If you see that your ducts are badly damaged, skip the sealing altogether and call a professional for a complete duct replacement project.
At Hiller, we use a product by the name of Aeroseal to seal your ducts. Aeroseal automatically finds and seals all the leaks throughout your entire duct system with precision. Giving you a home with even temperatures in every room, healthier air, and energy savings.
When we come out to your home, we can seal your air ducts in a few, short hours. You will be able to feel the difference immediately, not to mention seeing the savings on your energy bill!
3. Insulating Your Ducts
Insulating the pipes of your HVAC system is also a great idea. This is particularly recommended if you see frequent temperature changes in your rooms. Poorly insulated ductwork can cause condensation which facilitates the development of mold and mildew.
Insulating the ducts doesn’t only prevent mold, but it also makes the HVAC system more efficient, so you’ll eventually spend less on your energy bill.
There are numerous ways you can insulate the ducts. Most homeowners use insulation fiberglass or aluminum tape, among other items. See what you can find on your nearest home improvement store or call an expert and let him do it for you.
Keep in mind that some ductwork might be too damaged to be fixed like this. Only an experienced technician can tell the difference from a seriously faulty pipe or a mildly damaged one, so don’t rely on DIY projects to fix your ducts. DIY projects are inherently risky, especially when it comes to HVAC systems.
In some cases, you might need a brand new HVAC system to properly heat or cool down your house throughout the year and that’s why you should call a professional for a close inspection.
Get Your HVAC Ductwork Inspected Today!
Whether you want to fix some of the ducts in your HVAC system or you are considering a complete air duct replacement project, it’s important to not postpone this step any longer!
Give us a call today and let our professionals inspect the ducts in your house. We have a lot of experience when it comes to HVAC systems and our services are affordable.