Just like that old cliché about a chain and its weakest link, your home’s heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system is only as efficient as its ductwork. The ducts in your home are responsible for ventilating the entire house, so if they are leaky, damaged, insulated improperly, sized incorrectly, or made of inappropriate materials, then air is not circulating properly in your home and you’ll pay the price.
Getting the Most from Ductwork
Fortunately, there are ways to increase the efficiency of ductwork, making your home more comfortable and your wallet happier. Please note that inspecting, repairing and installing ductwork is an intensive process that requires significant deconstruction. If you do not have experience in doing such work, it is recommended that you consult a professional before proceeding.
As you might imagine, one main problem resulting in inefficient ventilation is leaky ductwork, usually due to damage or wear and tear. Leaky ductwork should be fixed immediately, as the resulting condensation can cause structural damage. Some leaks can be repaired by properly sealing them with an appropriate sealant, but some leaky ducts must be replaced, especially if they are damaged. Also consider replacing the insulation around any leaky ductwork, as it may have been damaged by condensation. Properly insulating the duct will prevent heat loss or gain due to radiation from the duct, but insulation on its own will not help a leak.
The Right Ducts
You should also make sure your ducts are the right size for the job. Ducts that are too small are susceptible to leaks, as the air flowing through them is under more pressure. Choosing ducts with a large enough surface area and volume to handle the required airflow will help keep your HVAC system operating smoothly. In addition to size, if you are installing new ducts, consider what material and sealant is appropriate for your system. For example, some common duct materials include sheet metal, flexduct and ductboard. Each material and sealant has individual benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to research which is right for your home.
Whether installing ductwork in a new home or repairing ducts in an existing system, it is important to maximize efficiency. For new ducts, this means selecting the right materials and having them properly installed and insulated to prevent damage later on. Existing ducts should be maintained regularly and repaired or replaced as needed. In either case, you will save money in the long run and your home will be more comfortable.
About the author:
Pat writes for the HVAC industry, including Houston heating contractor Air National. He loves to help people with home improvement projects and provide his readers with simple, do-it-yourself HVAC tips.