What goes on inside a duct system is a mystery to most homeowners. Enclosed inside walls, hidden in the attic or crawl space, ducts get little thought until the utility bills reach critical mass. However, ducts are one of the first suspects an HVAC pro will investigate if your home’s wasting energy. Nationwide studies have shown that the average home loses 20 percent of system airflow through defective ductwork. Because most ductwork is inaccessible to the average homeowner, a proper duct diagnosis requires a trained HVAC technician with specialized instruments. However, you can reach some preliminary conclusions about the general condition of your duct system by heeding a few telltale warning signs:
- Segments of ductwork routed through unconditioned areas like the attic or crawl space suffer thermal loss due to high or low temperatures. Duct insulation substantially reduces this wasted energy. To reduce construction costs, many duct installations were uninsulated when the home was built. If you notice bare metal ducts in these areas of your home, assume you’re paying for them now in increased utility bills.
- Another cost-cutting construction method is the use of voids inside walls and between ceiling joists as substitutes for proper metal return ducts. Air channels made of wood and wallboard leak expensive cooling and heating while drawing unhealthy air into the system from inside walls and attics.
- Over time, inadequately secured duct segments may work loose and disconnect entirely. Depending on location, these may or may not be easily visible, but the energy loss is conspicuous. Ditto for flexible ductwork in an attic that is crushed or torn open by heavy objects stored there.
- If a room just won’t cool or heat, suspect a dead-end duct. Usually the result of a mistake made in new construction or retrofitting, sometimes ducts lead nowhere and are simply terminated, never connecting to the vents and registers in the room they’re supposed to serve.
Comfort Systems provides Wichita-area homeowners all their household comfort needs with a single call. Call us for a professional duct system evaluation and more energy-saving solutions.