Ductwork Diagnosis: Some Common Problems

What could go wrong with something as simple as ductwork? Quite a lot, it turns out. Residential ductwork often wasn’t fabricated to last the life of the house. Within a few years, joints and insulation begin to deteriorate and seams lose their seal. The result: Up to 40 percent of the cooled and heated air in a typical home is lost through leaky ducts. Not only energy efficiency but air quality may be impacted depending on where leakage occurs. Other problems may be traced to flexible ducts and everyday obstructions to airflow in the house. Since most ducts are installed out of sight, you probably won’t even know it’s happening. Here are just a few ductwork problems to be aware of:

Supply leaks. Leakage in ducts that deliver air to living spaces wastes money with lost cooling or heating. Supply leaks can also tip the balance of air pressure in the house to negative. This pulls in hot outdoor air and can cause gas heater backdrafting.

Return leaks. Instead of spilling air out, return leaks may suck contaminated air into ducts from uncon

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ditioned zones. Return leakage also can place rooms under positive pressure, which pushes cooled or heated air out of the house through every crack or gap in the structure.

Flex duct failure. Soft flexible ducts installed to bend around corners and obstructions may deform over time, eventually obstructing airflow.

Insulation loss. Insulating material inside rigid ductwork may deteriorate and collapse internally. This can restrict or block the flow of air. Disintegrating insulation on the exterior of ducts can cause thermal loss, particularly if the ducts are routed through areas of acute temperatures such as the attic.

Your HVAC professional contractor can take the mystery out of what’s happening inside your ductwork with a complete outside and inside inspection. He’ll also use testing technology to not only quantify the amount of leakage but help pinpoint those leaks for proper sealing.

Geisel Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing is your Cleveland-area source of all-season comfort. Ask us about a complete duct inspection to keep the cool air flowing all summer long.




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Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio 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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