Your Guide to Inspecting Your Air Ducts

Your Guide to Inspecting Your Air Ducts

If allergy season is over – why are you still sneezing all the time? It may be that your ductwork is dirty or even leaking. Gaps in your ductwork can lead to dust infiltration, and this debris can end up all over your home every time your AC kicks on. The good news is that inspecting your air ducts is relatively straightforward.

Homeowners with a DIY spirit often like to take on seasonal maintenance chores themselves to save a little money. Regularly inspecting your HVAC system is a good way to head off any potential problems before they become serious issues.

Why You Need to Inspect Your Air Ducts

Along with leaks in the system, as mentioned above, ductwork can also harbor mold, especially in humid weather. Mold is an endemic problem in South Florida homes, and it’s one that’s best mitigated before it spreads.

Ductwork inspection can also help identify any pest infestations. Our native tree rats often make themselves at home in attics.

What to Look for When Inspecting Your Ductwork

There are a few obvious signs that your ductwork needs immediate attention.

Sagging ductwork

One potential problem that homeowners can eliminate through regular inspections is unsupported ductwork. Sagging ductwork will often result in duct runs becoming disconnected when the ducts vibrate during use.

Water damage

Water-damaged fiberboard duct and duct insulation needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Water infiltration can cause the growth of mold, making your entire home unlivable when blowing air spreads spores throughout the ductwork.

Tools for Inspection

You’ll need a few tools to make inspecting your ductwork easier:

  • Flashlight

  • Screwdriver

  • Incense and lighter

  • Camera or smartphone

How to Inspect Your Ductwork, Step by Step

Before starting, make sure you have the tools you need at hand. You’ll start by examining the most obvious signs of disrepair.

Air vents

Turn on your HVAC system and switch to AC cooling. Make sure you’ve set the temperature low enough that the system will run long enough for you to finish the first part of the inspection.

1. Check all the vents in your home, looking for any dust or debris exiting the grilles. Your flashlight may come in handy by reflecting light off particles of dust that you normally would not be able to see.

2. Place your hand in front of the vents to feel for airflow. While you can purchase a tool for measuring it, you can still get a good idea of whether or not there is a blockage or a leak. All vents should be delivering a relatively equal amount of air.

3. Remove the grilles with the screwdriver and check for debris or rodent droppings. Either can indicate a large gap in the duct system.

Air handler

Open your air handler closet and note the position of the air intake vents and the connection to the duct runs.

1. Light the incense and hold it near the air intake vents. The smoke should be drawn into the air handler if it’s working properly.

2. Then, use it to check for leakage around the air handler connection to the ductwork. Whether the smoke is drawn into the connection, or blown away, it still indicates a leak in the duct connection.

Duct runs

Since most South Florida homes don’t have basements, you’ll likely find the duct runs in the attic. If they are accessible, do a visual inspection of them.

  • Look for strong supports that are intact and well supported by support structures.

  • Examine the insulation, if any, for gaps, tears, water damage, or rodent chewing.

  • Using the incense, check for air leaks at any branch lines.

  • Use your smartphone or camera to document any issues you find.

What to Do After Inspecting Your Air Ducts

You may have a new to-do list on hand, depending on what your inspection revealed.

1. An excess of dust or debris requires professional cleaning. This excess dust can enter your HVAC equipment and cause irreparable damage and excess wear, shortening its lifespan.

2. Signs of infestation may require an appointment with an exterminator. Rodents can wreak havoc on your home, chewing insulation, wires, and ductwork.

3. Poorly supported ductwork should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

4. Leaks or gaps require sealing, as they can increase your energy costs by allowing cooled air to escape and increase the demand on your HVAC system.

4. Water-damaged insulation or fiber duct board needs immediate replacement to prevent the growth of toxic mold.

Make an appointment today with the experts at One Hour Air in Miami for your next ductwork inspection. Our trained technicians offer fast, friendly, and thorough ductwork cleaning and repair.
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