If you’re like most people, your home’s ductwork probably isn’t something that you ever give much thought to. Still, that may be about to change after you learn about all of the potential problems that any leaks in your ductwork could be causing.
Any damage to your ducts can result in leaks that allow some of the heated and cooled air from your HVAC system to escape. The same is true if any of your ductwork connections are poorly fitted or if your ducts are simply starting to deteriorate due to age. This may not sound like that big of a deal at first. However, studies performed by the EPA suggest that in the average home, around 20-30% of the energy used for heating and cooling is wasted as a result of leaky ductwork. This obviously leads to increased energy costs but also a number of other issues that may not be so obvious.
Higher Heating and Cooling Costs
The fact that your HVAC system could be losing as much as 30% of its heated and cooled air due to leaks in your ductwork is something that you should definitely be concerned about. All of that lost air means that your furnace and air conditioner will then have to work that much harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.
Duct leaks also make it more difficult for your blower fan to fully circulate air throughout your entire system. As a result, you may end up having to run the fan much more frequently and for longer. All of these factors can add up to energy costs that are significantly higher than they would be if your ductwork was properly sealed and free from any leaks.
Increased Wear and Tear on Your Furnace and AC Unit
Any leaks in your ducts will force your furnace and air conditioner to work overtime. This increased load on your HVAC equipment will also increase the amount of wear and tear experienced by its various components. The result is that you may find yourself facing more frequent heating and cooling issues and thus having to have your furnace or AC unit repaired more often. This increased wear and tear also means that you may end up having to replace your equipment much sooner than you had planned. In this sense, making sure your ductwork isn’t leaking is one of the easiest ways to reduce the need for potentially expensive repairs. It can possibly even extend the lifespan of your HVAC equipment.
Uneven Heating or Cooling Caused by Poor Airflow
One of the first signs that may indicate your ductwork is leaking is if you frequently experience issues with hot or cold spots in parts of your home. Leaky ductwork can reduce the airflow in your HVAC system in a number of ways and thus lead to uneven heating or cooling. One such way is by making it much more difficult or even impossible for your HVAC system to circulate air throughout the entire length of the ductwork.
Leaks can allow dust and other airborne particles to get inside your ductwork, which can also reduce airflow. This same problem also results in your air filter getting dirty or clogged more quickly and thus further restricting airflow. The result of these issues may be that your system can’t provide adequate heating and cooling or is only able to fully heat and cool some areas of the home.
Excessive Dust Inside the Home
One good sign that your ducts are leaking is if you notice that your home is particularly dusty especially during times when your heating or air conditioning is running more frequently. These leaks not only directly allow dust to get inside your ductwork, but they can also contribute to an issue known as back drafting.
If your return air ducts leak, it can actually depressurize the interior of the house and cause air from outside to be pulled inside the building along with any dust or other airborne particles. Although dust is generally a more minor issue than many of the others, it is still something that most homeowners don’t want to deal with.
Increased Risk of Mold and Pest Problems
Any holes in your ducts or poorly fitting connections may enable cockroaches, mice, and other pests to take up residence inside your ductwork. Duct leaks can also lead to problems with excessive humidity and condensation, which can create the perfect conditions for mold to start growing inside your ducts or other parts of your home. Both pests and mold are fairly serious problems on their own, and they can also lead to other issues in terms of indoor air quality and the health and safety of your family.
Poor Indoor Air Quality
As evidenced by the previous two problems, leaky ducts can cause major issues in terms of indoor air quality. Back drafting doesn’t just allow dust to get in your home, but it can also bring in pollen and other airborne allergens. It can allow in other potentially harmful pollutants and contaminants such as exhaust and gasoline fumes, too. Mold and pest problems caused by your leaking ductwork can further worsen the air quality issues.
Poor indoor air quality can be an especially big problem for the elderly, people who suffer from severe allergies, or individuals with asthma, COPD, and other respiratory issues. Still, breathing in toxic exhaust fumes and other pollutants can be harmful to anyone, no matter their age or level of health.
More Frequent Need for Air Filter Replacements
Leaky ducts can impact your finances in ways that go beyond increased energy costs and a more frequent need for repairs. If your home’s ducts leak, it will result in your air filter becoming dirty and clogged much more quickly. Under normal conditions, you should be able to go for as long as three months without needing to change your air filter. However, if your ducts are leaking, you may need to replace your filter every two to three weeks in order to keep your HVAC system functioning properly. Depending on the type of air filter you choose, this could end up costing you as much as several hundred dollars a year extra for replacement filters.
Professional HVAC Services Team
Although duct leaks can cause a huge number of both minor and potentially more serious problems, the solution to all of these issues is simple. All it takes is to have your ductwork professionally inspected and then repaired and sealed as necessary. The experienced professionals at Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning have the skills and know-how to diagnose and repair any duct issues your home might be facing. We offer duct sealing and duct cleaning to residential customers in Sacramento, Los Molinos, Olivehurst, and the surrounding areas.
With more than 20 years of experience, Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning is the name residents of Sacramento have come to trust for any of their heating, cooling, and plumbing needs. In addition to ductwork, our NATE-certified HVAC technicians specialize in heating and air conditioning installation, maintenance, and repairs. We also offer numerous solutions that can help improve your home’s indoor air quality including humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and whole-home air purifiers. If you have any questions about any of our services or would like to schedule an appointment to have your ductwork inspected, contact Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning today.