Is your HVAC running efficiently? Are there certain rooms that don’t cool or heat as quickly as they used to? Maybe there are suspicious hot or cold spots in your home? You might be dealing with leaky air ducts.

Keeping your home comfortable and your utility bills low are an essential part of any whole-house system. If you have noticed a change in the quality of heating or cooling from your HVAC unit, it could be the result of leaky ductwork. Your ductwork is responsible for delivering the heated or cooled air throughout your home. It snakes throughout the floor and walls of your home; distributing the forced air to the vents that connect to every room.

If your ducts are compromised in any way, some of that forced air will disappear before getting to your vents. This will cause your HVAC to work harder and longer – ensuring higher utility bills and compromised comfort for your household. According to the Energy Star website, 20 to 30 percent of conditioned air that moves through a typical residential duct system is lost due to leaks and other defects. Just think of how that percentage would impact your average monthly bill.

Reasons for leaks in your ductwork:

  • Poor installation
  • Older homes with old ductwork
  • Loose screws/connections
  • Inefficient repair work
  • Little or no insulation (in extreme air temperatures)

Signs that you might have leaks in your ductwork:

  • Rooms that have become difficult to heat and cool
  • Stuffy, uncomfortable rooms
  • Higher utility bills in summer and winter
  • Ducts that are located in unconditioned areas including attic, garage or crawlspaces
  • Flexible ducts that appear tangled or dented
  • Dirty ceilings and vents
  • Dust and other contaminants from leaks in return ductwork

Leaky ductwork can cause several problems, some of which can be very expensive to fix. In addition to higher utility bills, leaky ducts can clog air filters, create air quality issues and increase the probability of HVAC-related repairs.

Fortunately, there are several options available for sealing ductwork, some of them relatively inexpensive. Depending on the type of leak, a professional might suggest spray sealant, rolled mastic sealant and several brush-on sealants that can be applied by hand.

If you feel that your whole-house system might be compromised due to leaky ductwork, an HVAC professional should be contacted to run a home energy audit. They will be able to verify whether or not your duct system is wasting air through leaks.

A DIY approach might work if the leaks are isolated in areas where the ductwork is accessible. Attics, crawlspaces and basements with exposed ductwork are ideal for this kind of job.  Read this for information on tackling a sealing project on your own. 

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