What You Need to Know About Ductwork

Published on: August 27, 2014
Inside hvac ductwork | AC Southeast®

Ductwork design can play an important role in the delivery of conditioned air throughout your home. It is also important to realize that poor design can result in problems with achieving desired temperatures on a consistent basis throughout your structure. In fact, poor design can even result in the early failure of your HVAC equipment. While newer homes are typically equipped with appropriately designed ductwork, it is important to note that damage is possible, making periodic inspections and service a priority. In older homes, it can be difficult to design and place a new duct system because of the unique structural obstacles posed. Working with a contractor who is experienced in designing equipment for such conditions is a priority.

The Importance of Duct Maintenance

Ducts account for approximately 20 percent of the energy used for home comfort control. The presence of leaks or damaged components can increase the energy loss via ducts, resulting in unnecessarily high utility bills. Materials used for duct sealing can deteriorate over time, resulting in leaks at connections. Deterioration can also allow for holes or leaks to develop in the duct walls. Regular inspections allow for such issues to be identified and addressed before they worsen.

The Role of Ducts in Indoor Air Quality

Your ducts can harbor particulates and other materials that may affect your air supply. In some cases, moisture can also infiltrate the area, resulting in serious problems with mold or mildew. Undetected holes or leaks can also permit vermin to infiltrate the circuit, resulting in potentially serious health implications. Rodents are known for carrying diseases such as hantavirus, reportedly transmitted through waste products of the animals. Whether you live in a city setting or a rural community, it is important to limit access to your home through the ducts in order to protect your air supply from contamination. Duct inspection can reveal these issues so that appropriate steps can be taken.

Leaky ducts can also provide access for dangerous fumes and emissions to infiltrate your living space. If your ductwork passes through a garage or an area with combustion appliances and equipment, there is a possibility of carbon monoxide mingling with your airstream and affecting the residents of your home. Duct sealing is a high priority if your ductwork design creates such a risk. However, you also need to know that carbon monoxide alarms are critical for monitoring the safety of your residence. It is recommended that a unit be installed on each level of your home. Additionally, all sleeping spaces should be equipped with carbon monoxide alarms. Additional alarms should be located in rooms adjacent to or above attached garages.

Frequency of Duct Inspections and Cleanings

It is important to work with your HVAC contractor to establish a suitable plan for maintaining your ducts. Your home’s design may be a major factor, especially if you are exposed to significant levels of dust, debris and pet dander. In a home with many pets, for example, there may be more frequent cleaning needs. A typical duct cleaning schedule may be once every three to five years.

Can I Service My Own Ductwork?

While DIY projects can save you a lot of money, you run the risk of damaging your ducts if you attempt to clean or seal them on your own. Your reach may be much more limited than that of a professional, and a household vacuum cleaner doesn’t have the power needed to thoroughly remove material from your system. You may mistakenly think that duct tape is enough for sealing your ducts, but you need to know that this material isn’t actually designed for withstanding the conditions of ducts, especially during the heating season. You may create more problems than you solve. Allow us to connect you with an AC Southeast® contractor who can evaluate your ductwork and recommend appropriate solutions.