If everything with your AC unit looks fine, but you’re still getting higher than usual energy bills, duct leaks are probably the culprit.
Anyone with a central air conditioner or furnace must rely on ducts to transport air through their home. While ducts are a highly effective system for treating your entire home with conditioned air, they do need to be taken care of, just like any other component of your air conditioner.
So, what are duct leaks, how do they form, and what can you do about it? Read on to find out.
First of All, What Are Ducts Made Of?
You may have the image in mind of rectangular, metal vents. We see them in movies all the time, and some commercial buildings have them exposed and visible on the ceilings. While these types of ducts can be used in homes, more often what you’ll see are flexible ducts.
When it comes to designing ducts, the best approach is to establish a system that’s as direct and as short as possible. That means as few bends and turns as possible (but still being able to bend when necessary), so flexible ducts end up being the best option. Flexible ducts are tube-shaped, consisting of a metal coil wrapped in insulation, and can be bent to accommodate the tight space of attics or crawl spaces.
How Do Duct Leaks Happen?
Duct leaks most commonly happen due to age, but other factors can also create leaks sooner than that.
Faulty Installation: A bad installation will hold up for a short time, but it might not be long before it runs into a problem. If the quality of the duct material is cheap, a leak or tear can occur much quicker. A sharply bent or crimped duct can also simulate the symptoms of a leak.
Pests: Unwanted critters in the attic have been known to create tears in ductwork. If you’ve recently had an infestation dealt with, have an AC repair company in Phoenix, AZ take a close look at the ducts.
Disconnects: Whether the ducts are metal or flexible, disconnects between sections of the duct is a common problem if the sealants holding them together have worn out.
What Are the Symptoms?
As for symptoms, you can expect anything dealing with airflow. Low airflow your return vents is common, and that in turn means your AC will be using more energy to compensate. Where’s that energy going? Through the leaks, of course! The openings of the leaks are also capable of pulling in dust and dirt, and that can interfere with indoor air quality.
How to Repair Them?
You certainly don’t want to try repairing them with duct tape. Yes, we know how ironic that sounds, but duct tape has been scientifically tested for its effectiveness. The conclusion was that it “failed reliably and often quite catastrophically” as a duct sealant.
Professional AC repair contractors don’t just have tools to fix the leaks, they also know how to thoroughly test the ducts to make sure that every last leak is found and sealed.