When the ductwork running through your home ages, it may develop leaks. This is often due to failures with connective elements, such as duct tape that starts to peel off around joints. But it could also be related to pest problems or other issues. The point is that you may start to notice that the efficiency of your air conditioning is starting to wane, resulting in higher utility bills. And it may not be the fault of your unit. In truth, it could be time to look for and repair leaks in your ductwork. Here are just a few pointers to help you get started.
- Professional duct inspection. Perhaps the best place to start when it comes to sealing up potential problems areas in your ductwork is to hire a professional to perform an inspection. This person can document all areas of leakage and provide you with a report that allows you to save some time and money by targeting your repair efforts. Or if you want to reduce your effort and you’ve got the money in your budget, you could just have your vendor address any issues as he goes. The service may cost you a pretty penny, but if you’re wasting energy and money anyway, the savings over time could end up paying for the repairs.
- Perform your own inspection. If you don’t have the cash to hire a professional inspector, it’s up to you to look for problems in your system of ductwork. But how do you know what you’re looking for? It’s actually not that difficult to spot major issues like peeling tape, holes, gaps between sections or joints of ducting, or piping that has come loose from the wall. Plus, you can find all kinds of tutorials online to help you determine what ductwork should look like and how to repair it.
- Concentrate on open spaces. If ducts within your walls, ceilings, or floors are experiencing leaks, it’s not necessarily a good situation, but at least you could end up with some ambient cooling as a result if you’re lucky. However, if ductwork in open areas like the unfinished basement, attic, or crawlspace is leaking, you’re virtually paying to cool unused areas in your home, and that’s a major waste of both energy and money. So while you might not have the tools and expertise to address air leakage in sealed walls, you should definitely scope out exposed ductwork to see if leaks are occurring and boosting your energy bill in the process.
- Get the right tape. Believe it or not, duct tape may not be the ideal solution when it comes to sealing your ductwork. Although it features the word “duct” right in the name, this type of adhesive tape is not going to be as durable as other sealing products, especially if the ductwork for your central air is not only for the AC, but also for heat. In this case, heat-approved products such as foil, mastic, or butyl tape are probably a better option.
- Know your limits. You can likely do a lot on your own when it comes to repairing leaks in your air conditioning ducts, but you are bound to have your limits and it pays to recognize them. If your HVAC system and allergies are a problem, you might need to install specialized components in your system, for example. Or you may have to replace entire sections of ductwork if there are major leaks throughout your home. The point is, at some point you may have to admit defeat and call the pros for assistance, or risk doing more harm than good through your DIY efforts.