Air Duct Efficiency: Savings Hidden in Plain Sight


Does opening your energy bill each month feel like getting hot coffee thrown in your face? Reducing how much you spend on heating and cooling is a great way to take the sting out of how much you owe to your utility provider.

The solution to reducing the amount you spend on your heating and cooling bills is hidden in plain sight: it's the air ducts.

In addition to paying high heating and cooling bills, homeowners with leaky ducts also experience that no matter how high you set the thermostat or how low you set the air conditioner, their house never feels quite comfortable. If that sounds like you, pay attention, because there is a good solution, and it might be more important than you realize.

The EPA estimates that leaky air ducts reduce heating and cooling efficiency by 20%, which not only wastes your money but hurts the environment. The EPA additionally reports that repairs to a duct system pay for themselves in energy bill savings in a relatively short period, often under four years.

If money alone isn't enough to convince you, sealing leaky ducts has other benefits as well as better air quality, better temperature control, and a safer house.

Diagnosing Inefficient Ducts

Ducts can become inefficient in numerous ways. Damage to the duct-work itself is the primary way in which it occurs. The damage often appears as holes, tears, twists, and partial disconnects that in ductwork that occur over time. Every single piece of damage, however big or small, is a place from which air can and will escape.

The HVAC system also can lose efficiency through leaks occurring at places where the duct meets the furnace, filter, and grills.

In a lot of cases, determining if your ducts are leaking is actually more difficult than it sounds. This is because the majority of your duct-work is hidden behind walls and in places seldom gone. If you aren't ready to tear open the drywall, there are other signs that your ducts are leaking. Additionally, some duct leaks are extremely small and difficult to see with the naked eye. As mentioned before abnormally high winter heating and summer air-conditioning bills signify something is wrong.

If a specific room presents a difficulty with regulating temperature or if it always feels stuffy, this is an indication that the ventilation is not working effectively, particularly in regards to that room. This is your best clue next to seeing a beat-up duct that your ventilation needs to be repaired.

Health Benefits

While fixing a ventilation system can lower the electric bill and make the house more pleasant to live in, there are also health benefits associated with efficient duct-work.

Household appliances, like water heaters, clothes dryers, and furnaces, release carbon monoxide as part of normal operations. When vents are functioning efficiently, the carbon monoxide is vented to the outside. However, when the ducts leak, that carbon monoxide reenters the house in a process known as back-drafting. Preventing that is another reason to take care of your duct-work.

Additionally, efficient ducts do a more complete job of isolating dust and allergens which aggravate chronic respiratory ailments.

Duct Repair and Sealing Basics

Repairing duct-work is simple in theory but difficult in practice, which is why so many homeowners call HVAC professionals like One Hour Air. Depending on the nature of your duct issues, there are different remedies that One Hour Air technicians will employ.

Professional repair involves sealing large holes in ductwork with mastic, an industrial bonding adhesive made from the resin of a mastic tree. In the case of ductwork that is too battered to be repaired, technicians will replace and reattach entire sections. For repair, the home remedy of using duct tape, contrary to its name, falls flat.

For smaller holes robbing you of duct efficiency, the technique of aerosol duct sealing is needed. While homeowners can attempt basic repair on their own, aerosol duct seals can only be done by a professional with the necessary tools. The technique of aerosol duct sealing closes holes by blocking the system openings and spraying aerosol adhesive into the ducts. Because the system is blocked off, the adhesive is forced through the leaks, sealing them

Steps of Aerosol Duct Sealing

  1. A test is performed to measure air leakage
  2. The openings are sealed with foam or plastic
  3. Aerosol sealant is injected into the sealed system
  4. The sealant leaves the system through the leaking areas, sealing them
  5. A test is performed to measure improvement

Improving your air duct efficiency will save you time while making the air in your house feel more comfortable. Your air ducts are one thing that should never be "out of sight, out of mind."

Contact us to talk about restoring duct efficiency and all of your HVAC needs.