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May 25, 2011
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Is Yout A/C Duct Leaking

FORT WORTH DALLAS HOME INSPECTOR ON LEAKING A/C DUCTS.
CENTRAL HEATING AND COOLING SYSTEMS USE AN AIR DISTRIBUTION OR DUCT SYSTEM TO CIRCULATE HEATED AND/OR COOLED AIR TO ALL THE CONDITIONED ROOMS IN A HOUSE. EVEN WHEN PROPERLY DESIGNED, DUCT SYSTEMS MUST BE INSTALLED CORRECTLY TO BE EFFICIENT, MAINTAIN UNIFORM TEMPERATURES THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE, OPERATE QUIETLY, AND NOT ADVERSELY IMPACT COMFORT OR INDOOR AIR QUALITY

AT LEAHY’S INSPECTIONS WE LOOK THE SYSTEM OVER AND IF THE DUCT WORK IS BAD AND LEAKING, I MAKE THE RECOMMENDATION TO REPAIR OR REPLACE IT.
MAKE SURE DUCTS ARE PROPERLY SEALED AND INSULATED IN ALL NON-AIR-CONDITIONED SPACES RUNNING FROM OUR AIR CONDITIONERS AND HEATING SYSTEMS.
DUCT LEAKS CAN BE SEALED USING MASTIC OR ACRYLIC-ADHESIVE FOIL TAPE. MASTIC ADHERES WELL TO MOST SURFACES AND PROVIDES AN EFFECTIVE LONG-TERM SEAL. MASTIC ALONE MAY BE USED TO SEAL CRACKS LESS THAN ¼” WIDE. FOIL TAPE CARRIES A 20-YEAR GUARANTEE IF APPLIED PROPERLY.

ANY SEALANT SHOULD CARRY THE UNDERWRITERS LABORATORY RATING (UL-181)SPECIFIC FOR THAT PARTICULAR TYPE OF DUCT. MOST DUCT MANUFACTURERS ARE NOW LISTING THE CLOSURE PRODUCTS THAT THEY ALLOW TO BE USED WITH THEIR DUCTS.
IF YOUR DUCTWORK IS UNINSULATED, CONSIDER ADDING 1½” TO 3″ OF INSULATION AND WRAPPING WITH AN EXTERIOR VAPOR RETARDER. SOME BUILDING CODES REQUIRE THAT DUCTWORK HAVE A MINIMUM INSULATION VALUE.
IF YOU SEE THE CONTRACTOR BRINGING IN DUCT TAPE, HIRE SOMEONE ELSE. IN THE PAST, MANY SYSTEMS WERE SEALED WITH A GRAY, RUBBER-ADHESIVE, CLOTH DUCT TAPE. THIS TAPE WILL EVENTUALLY FAIL DUE TO ITS SHORT-LIVED RUBBER-BASED GLUE. IF YOU SEE THIS KIND OF TAPE IN AN EXISTING HOME, BE SURE TO CHECK ALL AREAS WHERE IT IS ATTACHED TO THE DUCTS.
WHY DUCT INSTALLATION AND SEALING ARE IMPORTANT
THE EFFICIENCY OF AIR DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS HAS BEEN FOUND TO BE 60-75% OR LESS IN MANY HOUSES BECAUSE OF INSUFFICIENT AND/OR POORLY INSTALLED DUCT INSULATION AND LEAKS IN DUCT SYSTEMS. PROPERLY DESIGNED AND INSTALLED DUCT SYSTEMS CAN HAVE EFFICIENCIES OF 80% OR MORE FOR LITTLE OR NO ADDITIONAL COST, POTENTIALLY SAVING A HOMEOWNER $50-200 OR MORE PER YEAR IN HEATING AND COOLING COSTS. DUCT SYSTEMS THAT LEAK AND/OR DO NOT DISTRIBUTE AIR PROPERLY THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE MAY MAKE SOME ROOMS TOO HOT AND OTHERS TOO COLD.

LEAKY AND UNBALANCED DUCT SYSTEMS FORCE CONDITIONED AIR OUTSIDE AND UNCONDITIONED AIR INTO THE HOUSE. THIS INCREASES HEATING AND COOLING COSTS AND MAY ALSO DRAW HUMIDITY, DUST, MOLD SPORES, AND OTHER CONTAMINANTS INTO A HOME FROM THE ATTIC, CRAWLSPACE, OR GARAGE AND RADON’S. MOST AIR CONDITIONING AND HEATING SYSTEMS REQUIRE SOME FORM OF DUCT WORK TO CHANNEL OR DIRECT THE AIR TO PLACES IN THE DWELLING WHERE THE CONDITIONED AIR IS NEEDED.
THERE ARE MANY TYPES OF DUCT WORK AVAILABLE AND OFTEN TIMES THE DUCT WORK CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE IN YOUR UTILITY BILLS. FOR THAT REASON, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE DUCT WORK IS INSTALLED CORRECTLY BY QUALIFIED INSTALLATION TECHNICIANS. A POOR INSTALLATION JOB WILL RESULT IN POOR PERFORMANCE, BAD AIR FLOW, LEAKY DUCT WORK SYSTEMS, AND HIGHER THAN USUAL UTILITY BILLS. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU HAVE QUALIFIED PEOPLE DESIGN AND INSTALL YOUR SYSTEM FROM START TO FINISH SO THAT YOU GET THE BEST AND HIGHEST PERFORMING DUCT WORK SYSTEM MONEY CAN BUY. IT IS ALSO CRITICAL THAT THE AIR CONDITIONING DUCT WORK SYSTEM BE DESIGNED FOR THE AIR CONDITIONING LOAD.

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