Ductwork Showing Its Age? Here’s How to Tell It’s Time for a Change

A very important component of your home’s forced-air heating and cooling system contains no moving mechanical parts, doesn’t require expensive energy to operate and may even elude diagnosis when there are clear signs of trouble in the form of home discomforts and high energy bills. If the temperature in your home varies significantly from one room to the next, and energy bills are suspiciously high, it may be that your home’s ductwork system is finally showing its age.Ductwork Showing Its Age? Here's How to Tell It's Time for a Change

Signs of Aging Ductwork

The typical duct system is manufactured of thin metal and fabricated into square segments, fastened together with, unfortunately, duct tape. If your comfort and pocketbook are suffering, look for these signs of aging ducts:

  • Airflow – Unbalanced airflow at the registers from room to room indicates a leak, disconnection or damage, such as crushed ducts.
  • Temperature – Duct’s thin walls easily transfer heat energy between the heated or cooled air inside the ducts and the spaces the ducts traverse (often unconditioned attics, basements and crawl spaces), and valuable heat energy is lost or gained.
  • Noise – Rattling and clamoring noises from the outlets, grills, ceiling, walls and floor (wherever ducts are located) are clear signs of aging duct seams that have become loosened or disconnected.

Inspecting Ductwork

A visual inspection of air ducts can often pinpoint issues. Look for these signs:

  • Leaks – Air leaks often causes dust to radiate at seams. If your ducts are insulated, look for dirty streaks of dust.
  • Disconnections – Ducts endure significant static pressure over the years, and when sealing fails, ducts loosen, disconnect and fall away.
  • Damage – Portions of duct runs may become damaged, crushed or tangled (particularly in the case of flex ducts).

Seal and Insulate

Duct leaks and loose seams should be sealed with a thick substance called mastic, and followed by wrapping seams with metal tape. All duct runs in unconditioned spaces should be insulated with fiberglass rolls or rigid board to hinder heat energy losses through duct walls. These tasks require extreme caution, as ducts are typically located in hard-to-reach locations.

For more details or assistance with your home’s aging ductwork, contact Air Assurance today.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Tulsa and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about ductwork and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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