HVAC. This stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. While most homeowners understand the heating and air conditioning systems, the ventilation system can be a little more eluding.
Ductwork is installed as your home was built. If you’ve ever been inside a home as it’s built, you’ve seen silver boxes snaking throughout the home, built into the walls between the studs, insulated, and covered with drywall as the home is finished. It’s a part of the home; why worry about it?
Like everything, ductwork is only designed to last for so long. According to EnergyStar, houses with gas-forced heating and cooling systems typically experience 20 to 30 percent loss of air flow due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. And this condition worsens over time.
How can you tell if your ductwork has a problem?
Let’s dive a bit deeper into how ductwork works.
Ducts pull air from various parts of your home, heat or cool the air, and then redistribute it back through the ducts and into each room of your home.
It starts during installation. If it’s poorly installed, the connections can have leaks or holes, which allows air pressure to be released outside of the rooms in your home. That means conditioned air can escape behind walls, in attics or crawlspaces, which can cost you more in energy costs each month.
Overall, ducts are designed to last around 15 years on average. They are made from fiberglass, plastic, metal, and at some point, they start to wear down, losing efficiency. Every time your HVAC system turns on and off, ductwork contracts and expands as air flows through. That’s a lot of work for this important system. And as things begin to break down, you’ll notice a less comfortable home while experiencing increasing utility bills each month.
Do you need air duct replacement?
A few signs you have a problem with your ducts include:
Unusual noises - your HVAC system had certain noises during operation, but if you hear an increase in unusual noises, it might be an indication of vibration as one or more parts of your ductwork have come loose. Joints can be damaged and come loose, causing rattling or whistling noises every time air moves through.
Higher energy bills - the more air that escapes behind walls and in your attic or crawl space, the more you’ll adjust your thermostat to try and stay comfortable. That results in higher energy bills each month.
Uneven heating or cooling - do you have rooms you can’t warm up, or rooms that are forever cold? That could be a sign of a problem with the ductwork leading to that particular room.
Dust - gas-forced heating and cooling systems produce dust. But if it seems to be in abundance, it could be a sign of ductwork damage, which allows more dirt from outside into the system, all of which gets blown around and winds up settling on your furniture.
Musty smell - with holes and leaks in your ductwork, it can also allow moisture to accumulate. As it sits, it can turn into mildew or mold. Every time your heating or cooling system turns on, it blows over these deposits, and pushes the smell out into your rooms. You might also notice an increase in health problems.
Old ductwork - how old is your home? Have the ducts been replaced? If your home was built back in the seventies, it may have asbestos insulation, which can harbor even more problems within the walls of your home. Duct installation has improved tenfold over the last few decades. You’ll notice a more comfortable home from the moment you upgrade your ductwork, and have a healthier home too.
Worried about the condition of your ductwork? Start with an audit today. We can inspect your ducts and help you decide what’s best for your home.