Ducts are an essential part of any traditional central heating and cooling system. Their importance cannot be overstated. The air conditioning unit can run all day long, but if there is a problem with the ducts, the home will never get to a comfortable temperature. Ducts help determine the efficiency of an HVAC system and can keep the air quality healthy or spread microbes, allergens, and other pollutants throughout the house.
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Warning Signs: What to Look for When You Suspect Faulty Ducts
Do you think there might be issues with your ducts? Does the air conditioner seem to be working, but something still seems to be amiss? Here are some signs that will tell you to give the pros a call for inspection:
- Uneven temperatures: Some rooms are too hot or too cold.
- System Age: If the ductwork is 15 years old or more, it may need repair or replacement.
- Allergies/Asthma: If these respiratory conditions seem to be exacerbated, it may be a problem with the ducts.
- Odors: An unexpectedly musty smell may be the result of faulty ducts.
- Dust: Excessive build-up of dust may be due to ductwork needing repairs.
- High Energy Bills: Faulty ducts greatly decrease the efficiency of an HVAC system.
The Whys of Air Duct Repair
Unfortunately, a problem with the ductwork cannot always be easily narrowed down to one specific problem. There are many reasons that ducts can malfunction.
- Leaks/Breaks in the Ducts
- Uneven Airflow
- Too Little Insulation
- Wrong Size Ducts
- Bad Seals
- Poor Previous Installation Work
Duct installation is a process that takes planning and precision to be done correctly. There are spacing requirements that need to be considered and the home layout must obviously be taken into account. The planning stage will be where your supplies are calculated. If the unit is already in place, installing the ductwork is the next step.
The plenum, the mainline leading directly from the air conditioning or heating unit, is the first part to connect, and ensuring it is sealed properly is key to an efficient system. The main trunk line and branch lines that lead to various rooms must be properly sealed and insulated and must be free of sharp bends. Finally, return vents must be installed to properly circulate the air through the home.
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Air Duct Replacement Vs. Repair
How do you know whether to repair a piece of ductwork or to replace it? Most certainly, there is always a cost consideration involved. Typically it is cheaper to repair a duct than to replace it, but there are other factors to consider when deciding on the best course of action for your home.
- Age: If the ductwork has been in the home for more than 15 years, it may be advisable to replace rather than continually doing small repairs.
- Seals: If connections merely need strengthening and perhaps resealing, this is likely a simple repair job.
- Breakage/Leaks: Perhaps the whole section is torn apart, thereby needing replacement, but other sections can be satisfactorily patched.