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4 Signs Your Ductwork Is Leaking Air

Air ducts pipe for line system air flow
When you think about your heating and cooling system, you probably think about your outdoor units, thermostat, vents, and filters. These may be important parts, but your system's ductwork is also an essential part of your home's heating and cooling system.
The ductwork runs cooled or heated air from a connection to the outdoor unit, through your crawl space, and into the walls of the home. Unfortunately, age, basic wear and tear, and improper installation can lead to tears, holes, and disconnected seams that allow air to leak out. This air loss negatively affects the function of your heating and cooling system, so repairing the ductwork is imperative.
Here are a few signs your ductwork may be leaking air.
1. Increased Energy Costs
Most experts agree that heating and cooling accounts for almost half of the home's total energy usage. To heat and cool your home through the various seasons, you will spend a good amount on your monthly energy bills. If your ducts are damaged and leaking air, you will spend even more on heating and cooling.
Your monthly energy bills will increase as your HVAC unit works harder to cool or heat a room to make up for the air that is lost through holes and unsealed seams in the ducts. As a matter of fact, air leaks through your ductwork can waste an estimated 25 to 30 percent of energy. If you have noticed an increase in your energy usage, consider having your ductwork inspected for signs of distress.
2. Uncomfortable Room Temperature
If air is leaking out of the ducts, it will not make it through the vents and into your home. This decreased air flow into your home can prevent the system from heating and cooling to your desired temperature.
One common sign of decreased air flow into the home is an uncomfortable room temperature. When heating, the room should begin to feel warm. When cooling, you should feel cool air moving through the vents. If the air feels stuffy or you are experiencing uneven temperature changes, conditioned air is most likely leaking out of your ductwork.
3. Increased Dust Accumulation
Some dust in the home is normal, but if you are noticing a new increased accumulation in dust, you may have air leaks in your ductwork. When you turn on your heat or air conditioning, the damaged ductwork will suck up dirt, dust, and other allergens that may lurk in between your walls into the holes and tears. As the heat and air conditioning begins to flow through the ductwork, the dirt, dust, and other allergens will then be transferred through the vents into your home.
You may notice a visible accumulation of dust on your furniture and other surfaces, and the dust, dirt, and allergens can also increase your risk of allergies. If you are experiencing itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, and breathing difficulty, you may be affected by the allergens coming into your home because of leaky ductwork.
4. Visible Ductwork Damage
You can inspect your ductwork for signs of visible damage. Locate the main unit of your heating and cooling system, which may be in the attic or basement. You will notice ductwork that is branching off each side of this main unit. One side of the ducts blows air through the rest of the branch ducts, while the other side of ductwork pulls air in.
To inspect the ductwork, turn your system on to begin heating or cooling the home. Use your hands to feel around each part of the ductwork. If you feel any amount of air coming through the ductwork, you are losing conditioned air and need to have the ductwork replaced.
Move around your home to check other sections of ductwork that are easy to access. You may be able to locate ductwork in certain locations, including the attic, basement, and crawlspace. Feel and look around these sections to determine if you have any air leaks.
Living with leaking ducts is possible, but it can affect your comfort level and finances. For more information on inspecting and repairing your system's ductwork, contact Matthew Roberts Incorporated.