If you’re not quite as comfortable in your home this summer as you think you should be, your thoughts probably turn to repairing or replacing your air conditioner. But a faulty HVAC system isn’t necessarily the problem. There could be another culprit – your ductwork.
Sometimes poor and inadequate ductwork makes itself known in very obvious ways. Other times, your only clue may be a nagging sense that your air conditioning is working overtime but not keeping you as comfortable as you’d like to be.
Here are some of the signs to look for that can indicate a problem in your ductwork and why they happen.
If you see water spots, mold or mildew on walls, ceilings, or around vents, don’t blame the plumbing! Water spots can also be the result of poorly insulated ductwork. During the cooling process, your ducts fill up with cool air on the inside. When the cool ducts meet the hot surrounding air, condensation can form on the outside of ducts.
Over time, these water droplets can bleed into your insulation and drywall, causing water stains, mildew and mold buildup. We probably don’t have to tell you how dangerous mold can be. Your home begin to rot and collapse from the inside out, and mold spores that get into the air are not only harmful to otherwise healthy people, but can be detrimental to young children, the elderly, people with asthma, allergies or other respiratory conditions.
So if you start to see water stains where there is no other discernable problem, if you notice an increase in allergies or respiratory problems, and if you see water of any kind around vents, it’s time to examine your ducts.
It can be tough to tell what’s going on inside your walls, crawl spaces and attic without some know-how and a professional eye, so ask your HVAC contractor for help. The solution may be to properly insulate ductwork to prevent condensation, or even to install a whole house dehumidifier to control condensation in the first place.
Did you know that air pollution inside your home can be much worse than outside your home? Our homes are so well-insulated these days – tight construction, Energy Star windows, thermally sealed doors – that pollutants are no longer circulated out of the home as fresh air is circulated in. Without that vital circulation process, pollutants like pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and even chemicals from cleaning products, paint and carpets remain inside.
The problem is compounded by dirty ducts, which become a breeding ground for bacteria and continually blow pollutants back into our homes along with that not-so-fresh cool air.
On top of the impact on your health, dirty ducts mean your air conditioner isn’t working as efficiently as it could be. In the short term, you’re not as comfortable as you could be. In the long term, energy costs start to add up and the life of your HVAC system can be compromised.
But there’s no need to get caught in a spiral of escalating energy costs and repairs because the solution is pretty simple – get those ducts cleaned! Be sure to call in a professional because cleaning ducts isn’t like vacuuming a carpet. It requires specialized equipment and skill so that you can enjoy the results of improved air quality and a more efficient HVAC system.
Your ducts may be a victim of condensation but they don’t leak water. Rather, they leak air. In fact, an average home can lose up to 40% of the air that circulates through ducts into walls and attics. Imagine 40% of the cool air circulating through your home leaking into your attic!
With a number like that, it’s easy to understand why you’re not quite comfortable even when your air conditioner is giving its all. Leaks mean poorly sealed or insulated ductwork, and they can work in reverse, too – the same way that cool air leaks out, pollutants can leak in, adding to the buildup of gunk inside your ducts and unhealthy particles being recirculated throughout your home.
And as long as we’re making you cringe, poorly sealed ducts add another worry to the mix – insects and rodents. If air can get out, other things can get in, and sometimes those things are even less pleasant than pollen and dust. We probably don’t have to tell you what cobwebs can do to your ducts, or worse, what a rodent can do if it dies inside of one.
So leaky ducts may even lead to blocked ducts, both of which can seriously compromise the efficiency and longevity of your HVAC system.
If it seems like your air conditioner is working too hard and not keeping your home cool enough, or if your energy bills keep going up even when the temperature doesn’t, it’s time to call in a professional. Other signs to look for include worsening allergies while indoors, uneven temperatures throughout your home, and even the dreaded smell that means something has gotten into your ducts, and not fared too well.
Your ducts are the system that allows proper airflow to cool your home in summer and heat it in winter. Whether yours are leaking, blocked, kinked, poorly insulated or sealed, or simply too dirty, your comfort and even your health can be compromised.
If you suspect a problem with your HVAC system, we can help. Call us at (732) 316-5554 or contact us online and we’ll get to the bottom of your problems and give you a free estimate for resolving them.