Forced-air heating and cooling systems are useless without ductwork. After all, ducts distribute the heated and cooled air throughout your home. However, if your ducts are improperly sealed you could be losing much of that air through gaps and cracks. And that means your family is living in rooms that aren’t as comfortable as they could be.
It also means your utility bills may be unnecessarily high as your HVAC equipment works extra hard to cool or heat your home. In a typical home, 20 percent of the air in the duct system is lost through leaks and poorly sealed connections, according to the U.S. government’s EnergyStar program.
Homeowners can repair some leaky ducts themselves. First, though, you have to find the leaks. You can easily spot some larger holes and gaps in places where your ductwork is accessible, such as in your garage, basement or attic. To identify smaller leaks, run your hand along the ducts while the system is running, feeling for cool or warm air. You can also look for streaks in any surrounding dust that may have been caused by leaking air.
You can use duct mastic to repair many of these holes. This putty-like material is available at home-improvement stores. After wiping the joint area clean of particles, spread the mastic over the holes with a trowel or brush. Reinforce the mastic coating with mesh tape on places where there’s a quarter-inch or bigger gap.
If you are installing ductwork in a new house, make sure the duct sealing is thoroughly inspected to avoid immediate efficiency problems. This will be the only time you have access to all of the ductwork before parts of it are concealed by walls and ceilings. Your installer should abide by EnergyStar guidelines to ensure an efficient duct system.
Some duct sealing must be done by contractor, especially if your leaks are in ducts in hard-to-reach parts of your home. If you think your ductwork might need help, please contact the Long Island professionals at T.F. O’Brien Cooling & Heating. We’re always glad to be of service.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about duct sealing and other HVAC topics, click here to download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.