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All Your Ducts in a Row?

The duct portion of your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system is a network of tunnels and connections that disperse cooled or heated air throughout your home. Ductwork should be designed to deliver air in as direct a path as possible. Gentle turns and smooth passages accomplish this more readily than tight angles and corrugated hosing. Unlike older homes where ductwork design was almost a one size fits all approach, newer homes are built with purposefully designed duct systems. Software is used to calculate proper heating and cooling loads and the air handler is placed as close to the center of the home as possible. There is also a greater effort to keep ductwork out of non-climate-controlled areas, such as attics and crawlspaces, and inside conditioned areas of the home.

Damaged or defective HVAC ductwork makes it difficult for your system to distribute air throughout your home. Leaks and improper connections can create expenses you might not notice right away as your energy bill slowly creeps up over time. Over time, ducts can get worn down or damaged, especially if they are in an area accessible by critters.

In one situation, an office manager noticed odd, metallic noises coming from underneath her building. When HVAC professionals investigated the crawl space, they found that a family of raccoons had been using the ductwork for living and recreational purposes. One man’s ductwork is a raccoon’s slide! Take a peak in your attic and crawl space. Look for holes, tears, disintegrating duct tape or disconnected joints. If you notice any damaged or separated sections of ductwork, it is time to contact an HVAC professional.

As ducts age, they can develop leaks and cracks. Worn seals or improperly sealed joints allow treated air to leak out and dirt and dust to get in. As the system is typically hidden behind walls, under floors and above ceilings, it can be difficult to know how your duct system is handling the ageing process. Fortunately, there are signs you can look for that let you know it is time to call in an HVAC professional for a consultation.

SIGNS

Unwarranted amounts of dust appear on your furniture and floors. Leaks allow dust and dirt to enter the ductwork and those are then pushed out into your home.

Low air quality can be caused by compromised connections. If you or anyone in your family notices an increase in respiratory issues or allergies, first and foremost check your air filter to see if it is time to replace it. Once you’ve established the air filter isn’t the problem, the next consideration is your ducts.

Inconsistent temperatures in various places of your home may be indicative of imbalanced ductwork. You may notice a space seems too warm or too cold in comparison to the thermostat setting.

Mildew, and the accompanying smell, can be caused when the insulation for your ductwork is lacking or humid air is being pushed through the system. These situations can form condensation which encourages mold and mildew growth. Leaky ducts can exacerbate the situation and cause an issue on your ceilings as well.

Air flow issues may indicate a need to make some adjustments to the existing ductwork, especially if a new HVAC system has recently been installed.

HVAC systems are intended to operate fairly quietly. A markedly noisy HVAC system may indicate that the ducts are imbalanced or too small for your system and the air is fighting to get through an inadequate opening. This situation can increase your energy bill and put undue stress on your HVAC system.

Another reason to contact your HVAC professionals regarding ductwork is if you are considering a home renovation. In your basement or attic, wider, flatter heating and cooling ductwork can be used to increase the headroom in the area as you look to reinvent the space. HVAC technicians can determine if stock or custom ductwork will best fit your needs and will advise you of the appropriate additions and changes that will need to be made to your HVAC system to accommodate the new space.

If headroom isn’t an issue, HVAC professional can utilize traditional ductwork once they determine the size system required to condition the additional finished space. They will calculate whether or not the changes will require supplemental HVAC equipment or a system upgrade. They will also recommend the most efficient way to move forward with the project.

If your renovation includes removal of a wall or portion of a wall, you may find that rerouting ductwork will become part of the project. Involve your HVAC contractor from the beginning stages of any such renovation to ensure that all matters such as insulation, furnace output, window placement, etc. are addressed.

Whether you are looking to tear down some HVAC involved walls, add new conditioned space to your home, or have concerns regarding your existing ductwork, the HVAC professionals at GV’s Heating and Cooling are ready to assist you. Contact us today.