Energy Tip – How “Cool” is Your Ductwork?

It is not “Cool” to have leaky ductwork in a home or office; however the ductwork is often an overlooked item even though it is a key component to your comfort system. Leaky ductwork in a heating and cooling system can waste hundreds of dollars every year and also cause a home or building to be uncomfortable. Your air distribution system is made up of two main pieces of ductwork or trunk line. One trunk “blows” the cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter to different rooms and areas, commonly called the supply duct. You also have another trunk that “sucks” air back to your furnace or fan coil to be reconditioned, commonly called the return duct. This cycle continues over and over again until the thermostat tells the system “I am good, you can stop running now”.

Ducts naturally leak by the way they are constructed or installed, each connection point from one piece of duct to another is a potential source for air leakage because the ductwork will expand and shrink as the temperature of the air within the duct changes. Air can leak both in and out of your ductwork and this will cause your heating and cooling equipment to work harder and less efficient.

Your Comfort can be at stake if you have “leaky ducts” in your attic, crawl space or basement. Leaky return air ducts will allow unconditioned air to be returned back to the furnace or air handler instead of pulling air from the main living space. Leaky supply ductwork will not allow certain parts of a home to get the proper airflow, therefore rooms will be too hot or too cold.

Another key issue is Higher Utility Bills; think about it, if you are dumping cold air in the summer into your attic instead of where it needs to be then the air conditioner will have to run longer in order to get the home comfortable. This longer run cycles will cost you more in utilities. Another scenario could be if the return air duct is pulling warm (120 degree) air from an attic or crawl space during the summer instead of the air within the home (72 degrees). This 120 degree air is now mixing with the 72 degree return air and causing the air conditioner to work harder in order to get cold air coming out of your vents.

Leaky ductwork can also cause a Dusty Home, a typical home contains around 180 linear feet of ductwork and your ducts can accumulate more than 40lbs of household dust each year. Leaky ductwork will spread this dusty air throughout the home, while sealed ducts deliver cleaner, filtered air.

So what can you do? Well one thing that you can do is to have your ductwork sealed. This can be done by using the metal duct tape (not regular duct tape) or a mastic duct caulk; both can be found at most hardware stores. We also offer duct sealing as one of our services, so if you don’t want to mess with it give us a call.

Please give us a call if you have any questions or comments about leaky ductwork anytime.

James Gallet