The next time your heating or air conditioner kicks on, you could be losing money through your HVAC unit’s ducts. If your system is old, air leaks throughout the system can be the cause of significant waste. In fact, a single ductwork leak can cost your system over 20% of its energy efficiency.
Your home’s duct system is basically a branched mesh-work of tubes in your basement, attic, walls, floors, and ceilings that carry the heated or cooled air from your HVAC system to each room. The ducts themselves are typically made of insulated sheet metal or fiberglass.
Forced-air heating and cooling systems circulate air through the ducts through an air handler. The air handler is designed to take air from the house, condition it, and return it to each room. HVAC ducts are pressurized, so any leaks in the system are magnified. Those leaks can cause far more waste than other leaks around your house, such as window or door leaks.
It is the conditioned air that leaks into unconditioned places that can add up to hundreds of dollars per year in wasted energy consumption. Why would you want to heat or cool your attic or basement, anyway?
Studies have shown that that duct leaks into your attic and crawl spaces also provides an easy path of travel for contaminants to enter the HVAC system and be literally blown into your home. Mold and spores can degrade indoor air quality and become particularly hazardous for the very young, the very old or people with existing breathing issues.
Common problems with ducts include shredded insulation, split or broken junctions, or even holes caused by rats or mice. In most cases, leaky air ducts just need to be repaired, not replaced. Regular inspection and repair of any leaks are critical to keeping your HVAC system efficiency.
Industry standards recommend that for improved air quality, you should have your air ducts inspected every 2 years for cleanliness and then cleaned every 5-7 years.
Sealing leaky ducts can be one of the most cost-effective ways to save energy and money. Return on investment from energy savings is quick, generally less than a year.