Analyzing Ductwork Problems: Rule Out What It Isn’t

Posted On: October 10, 2013

There are numerous ways ductwork can detract from the efficiency of your central heating and cooling system. If you suspect your system isn’t performing up to its full potential, you may want to examine your ducts for problems, or better yet, have them inspected by a trusted professional.

One of the most common problems is excessive air leakage. Air leakage lets conditioned air escape before it can reach the living spaces in your home. Air leakage is especially wasteful when it occurs in ducts outside unconditioned areas because the conditioned air completely escapes from the interior. In these areas leakage can also allow for dirty, unheated or uncooled air to be drawn into the ductwork, increasing the amount of energy that’s needed to condition the air, and adding to poor air quality.

Air leakage and other airflow problems can also lead to problems with unbalanced supply and return flow. This can cause areas within the home to become depressurized, reducing heating and cooling efficiency as air gets sucked into the home to equalize the pressure. Drafts can also create comfort problems by causing some areas of the home to be hotter or colder than others.

If you think your ductwork may be causing problems for your heating and cooling system, you’ll want to have your ducts tested by a contractor. However, there are a few problems you may be able to rule out by examining them yourself, such as:

  • Air filters. When they get dirty, air filters will reduce the airflow in the ducts, resulting in inefficient operation of your heating and cooling equipment.
  • Blower fan. Like dirty air filters, dirty fan blades can lead to low airflow rates due to the fan’s reduced ability to move air.
  • Damaged ducts. Any ducts that have collapsed or become damaged can lead to low airflow and duct leaks.
  • Sealing leaks. Duct sealing should be done with mastic sealant or approved metal-backed tape to ensure a quality, long-term seal.
  • Return grilles. Make sure these aren’t blocked by furniture, drapes or rugs.

If you need help with your ductwork, please contact us at Ernst Heating & Cooling. We’ve been serving the Alton, Highland, Staunton and other southwest Illinois communities since 1951.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hamel, Alton, Glen Carbon, Highland, Greenville, and Troy, Illinois and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about ductwork and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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