Heating Problems? It Could Be Your Ductwork
Are your utility bills creeping up, even with steady heating oil and propane prices? Are you less comfortable at home, with uneven heating from room to room? Are some areas of your house dustier or stuffier than usual?
The problem may be between the walls – in your duct system.
In houses with a forced air HVAC system, ducts are used to move conditioned air throughout the house (if you have vents rather than baseboards, you have a forced air system). The problem is that over time, holes or misaligned joints in ductwork can result in air leaks: in a typical home, as much as 30 percent of the air you paid to heat or cool could lost between the HVAC unit and in-room vents.
Improving Duct Performance
There are many reasons why it pays to improve the performance of your ducts, including improved comfort, energy savings, better air quality, and improved safety. The problem is that ducts are often tricky to repair, since they are often concealed within the walls of your home.
Still, there are things that you can do to improve the performance of your duct system. Here are some things you can do to fix some of the duct problems in your home:
- Inspect visible ducts, looking for:
- obvious holes, gaps, or disconnections
- poor seals with joints at floors, walls, and ceilings
- ripped, torn, crushed, or disconnected flex ducts
- Seal visible leaks and holes with mastic or metal-backed tape (available at hardware stores)
- Wrap ducts in unconditioned spaces (attics and crawl spaces, for example) with duct insulation
Work With An HVAC Professional
While DIY ductwork repairs can certainly help, it’s always a good idea to work with an HVAC professional to check your heating system. For one thing, not all of the cracks and holes in your ductwork are in places that can be easily seen. For another, the problem may not be a duct leak at all: only an experienced technician with the right tools and training will know for sure.
Besides attending to your ductwork, it’s very important to get routine professional maintenance for your HVAC system every year. When it comes to getting the most out of your home heating or cooling equipment – including making sure air is flowing the way it should – there’s no substitute for a comprehensive tune-up by a licensed heating professional. With proper care, your system will keep the air clear and moving throughout your home.