Air Duct Problems
Proper design and installation are key to system efficiency.
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Lots of people know that spending a little more on a high-efficiency air conditioning or heating system now will pay off big in the long run with lower energy costs, less upkeep and a higher level of comfort.
What most people don’t realize is that their equipment is only part of the solution. To fully feel the benefits of your investment, make sure your ductwork is as well thought out—and maintained—as your HVAC unit.
Poorly planned or sloppily installed ducts can negate the energy savings and cost reductions you are counting on. Joints that aren’t sealed properly can let a lot of that precious heated or cooled air escape—as can old ductwork that may not be up to par with today’s new standards. Even newer ducts, when placed in areas where temperatures can be extreme (like attics), release a not-too-insignificant percentage of that comfy air.
Ductwork solutions. One thing you can do is to seal and insulate all ductwork. Minor duct repairs are easy to accomplish, but ducts in unconditioned spaces should be sealed and repaired by a qualified professional using the appropriate sealing materials.
Here are a few duct repair tips:
Some new homes these days are being built with ductwork running through the conditioned living space. By constructing an insulated zone between the ceiling joists and a dropped ceiling, or between the walls mainly in the corners of a room, ducts can exist in a area where any lost air would contribute to the overall comfort of the home.
- When looking for leaks, first check sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes.
- If you use duct tape to repair and seal your ducts, look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) logo to avoid tape that degrades, cracks, and loses its bond with age.
- Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder. If both the ducts and the basement walls are uninsulated, consider insulating the basement walls and the ducts.
- If your basement has been converted to a living area, install both supply and return registers in the basement rooms.
Of course you don’t have to build a new house to improve the efficiency of your ductwork. One thing you can look at is your duct’s configuration. A radial design, where air supplies and returns have direct connections to the unit, or a trunk and branch design, where supplies and returns branch off from a long “trunk” directly connected to the unit, are best for most houses. If your home has a different configuration, you might consider a conversion.
Contact your local ARS®/Rescue Rooter® HVAC specialist to find out more about improving your ductwork.