When you think about your HVAC system, which components come to mind? If you're like most people, you really only think about your furnace and air conditioner. But the ducts that carry the heated or cooled air through your home are also a vital component of your system. If they become leaky, you may experience an array of issues. Here's a look at common problems that may indicate your ducts are leaking -- and what you can do to address leaky ductwork.
What Problems Indicate Leaky Ducts?
Do some rooms in your home seem to cool or heat up far more quickly than others? The problem could be that your ducts are leaking. Air is leaving the ducts through crevices between them before it has a chance to reach certain rooms.
Increased Energy Bills
There are many reasons why your energy bills may increase. The first thing you should do when you notice an increase is change your furnace filter, as a dirty filter can cause your system to work overtime, using more energy. If this does not correct the problem, then there's a good chance that leaky ducts are compromising the energy efficiency of your HVAC system. Some of the heated or cooled air is "lost" before being blown into your home, so your furnace or air conditioner needs to stay on longer in order to achieve your selected temperature.
Do you notice a lot of dust flowing through your home even though you change the air filter and vacuum your home regularly? Dust that has accumulated between your walls over the years may be entering your ductwork through leaks before being spewed through your home whenever the heat kicks on. When leaky ducts are to blame for dusty air, you'll also notice that your furnace filter become dirty and clogged very quickly.
Changes in temperature as the air leaks from the ducts can cause portions of the ducts to expand and contract at different rates. This can lead to banging noises coming from within your walls. You may notice the banging most when the heat first kicks on or right after it turns off.
Warm Spots On the Walls
When your heat is on during the winter, you may notice that certain parts of your walls become noticeably hot to the touch. This usually indicates that heat is leaking from the ducts behind that portion of the wall. Over time, this can cause damage to the drywall and other building materials.
How Can You Fix Leaky Ducts?
If you suspect your ducts may be leaking, contact an HVAC company like One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning to come inspect them. The technician will use special tools, possibly including a camera, to inspect the interior of your ducts and identify the areas where they are leaking. Then, they will use a process called duct sealing to close up the leaks.
Duct sealing protocols can vary based on the severity and location of the leaks. Your HVAC technician may replace portions of the ducts, use epoxy to plug small holes, or use duct tape to cover small gaps between ducts that come together. In some cases, the leak may be due to a duct that has jostled out of place -- putting the duct back into its proper place may solve the issue.
Ignoring possible leaky ducts is never a good idea. You'll pay a lot more than necessary for heating fuel, and your furnace and AC will have to work extra hard to keep your home comfortable. Contact your HVAC company sooner rather than later to have your system evaluated for leaks.