A comfortable home has an efficient system for heating and cooling the air. Unfortunately, a recent report from the US government’s Energy Star Program indicates that the duct systems in typical American homes lose 20 percent of air moving through them. This is due to leaking duct work that was poorly installed or has deteriorated over the years. If these leaks are not fixed, they can cause serious consequences for the homeowner.
Leaks in the duct work result in increased utility bills, compromised personal comfort, increase indoor air pollutants and personal safety concerns. If both the heating and cooling units have to work 20 percent harder to compensate for air loss in the duct work, the electricity and oil or gas bills are proportionately higher. The air quality is poor as pollutants and allergens are able to enter through holes in the system. An even more serious condition is ‘backdrafting’ which means combustion gases such as carbon monoxide are drawn through the ducts and dispersed throughout the house.
Fixing the Leaks
The first step to improve the circulation of air in the home is to identify where the duct work is leaking. There are contractors who can use duct blasters, and manometers that measure air pressure or other instruments that allow them to pinpoint problem areas. A thorough check requires a licensed professional.
The next step is to close seal off the leaks and insulate exposed duct work. In spite of its name, duct tape is not the tape to use for sealing ducts, as it does not seal well or last long. Use mastic sealant or metal tape to cover the leaky areas. Then, insulate all accessible ducts that are exposed. These are usually found in attics, unfinished basements, crawlspaces, and garages. The ducts work more efficiently when they are not too hot or too cool. Any DIY project for fixing leaking duct work should be checked by a licensed contractor to make sure that your home is under a positive pressure and all combustion gases are venting properly. If everything checks out, the homeowner can relax and enjoy a comfortable home with fewer expenses.
Please, don’t crawl around in the attic during the summer trying to check your duct work. We have professionals who are experienced, trained and prepared to handle the heat while checking your system.
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