Your heating and cooling system depends on ductwork to get the hot air from the furnace to the various rooms in your home. Unfortunately, it’s not the most efficient system and can waste a lot of energy. In a typical house, about 20 to 30 percent of the air that is moving through the ducts is lost due to leaks, holes, and poor connections. There are ways to fortify your ductwork, however, that will conserve that heat and reduce the energy loss. Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent – sometimes much more. The Home Comfort Experts team of heating and cooling professionals has some tips for keeping that heat in your home and that money in your pocket.
Signs of Duct Leaks
How do you know that your home has ducts that are leaky? Here are some surefire signs to look for:
- stuffy rooms that never seem to feel comfortable
- high utility bills year round
- rooms that are hot in summer and cold in winter
- ducts that are located in attics, crawl spaces, or the garage
- tangled or kinked flexible ducts in your system
Sealing Your Heating and Cooling Ducts
Ducts that run through unconditioned spaces such as attics, crawl spaces, and unheated basements and garages are the biggest energy wasters. Focus on sealing and insulating these areas first. One big tip that most homeowners get wrong is to use duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape instead of typical duct tape. It will seal better and last longer. After you’ve taken care of these areas, check the rest of the ducts that you can access in the heated or cooled part of the house. Look for gaps where they are connected to each other and check for holes in the tubing. Seal any that you find. Also, check the connections at vents and registers where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling. These are common spots for leaks and disconnected ductwork.
Related Read: Benefits of an Early Season Furnace Tune-Up
Insulating Your Ductwork
After sealing the ducts, insulate them as well because they are in unconditioned areas. Wrapping them in insulation will prevent them from getting hot in the summer or cold in the winter due to the surrounding air. Be sure to use a foil-faced fiberglass insulation with an R-6 or higher insulation value. Use the same type of metallic foil duct tape to seal and hold the insulation in place. Make sure the foil surface of the insulation is free of dust before applying the tape.
Benefits of Duct Sealing
When your ductwork is designed and sealed properly, your home will be more comfortable, more efficient and safer. There are many benefits to having your ductwork checked for leaks and proper setup:
Even Temperature – Insulating and sealing your ducts will help bring rooms that are too cold or too hot back into the comfort zone.
A Safer Home – Gas appliances like water heaters, dryers, and furnaces release carbon monoxide through their ventilation systems. Leaky or incorrect ductwork can cause “backdrafting,” which allows these gases to be drawn back into the living space, rather than being expelled outdoors. Sealing leaks minimizes this danger.
Energy Efficiency – Sealing and insulating ducts increases energy efficiency, lowering your energy bills.
Reduced Air Pollution –Energy used in our homes often comes from the burning of fossil fuels at power plants. The less energy we use, the less air pollution we create. By sealing your ducts and making your home more efficient, you reduce the amount of energy necessary to comfortably heat or cool your home, thus reducing the amount of air pollution.
Indoor Air Quality – Fumes, insulation particles, and dust get into your duct system, aggravating asthma and allergy symptoms Sealing ducts improves indoor air quality by reducing the amount of these pollutants in your ducts.