The Importance of Looking After Your Ducts
When homeowners spring clean their home, AC ductwork often goes unnoticed. Because of its location and size, maintaining ducts can seem like a monumental task that isn’t really worth it. But, in reality, keeping your ducts in optimal condition is worth a lot – a lot of money, that is. The cost of air conditioning is usually much higher than it needs to be, often because AC ducts aren’t functioning properly.
What Are AC Ducts?
Your AC ducts are those big, silver looking pipes that move cooled air around your home. They are usually found in attics or crawl spaces throughout a house, with openings into each room. There are a few ways that air ducts can become faulty; leakages, twists and kinks, or even just from dirt. These seemingly small problems can cause you huge amounts of money over time, as they decrease the efficiency that your AC operates at.
Duct leaks occur when your ducts have holes in them or aren’t properly sealed and connected to each other. When this happens, air escapes through these holes and thus less air reaches it’s designated area. This forces your AC to work harder, pumping more air to compensate for what is lost. An AC that works harder is obviously using more energy, which in turn costs you more. According to Energy Star, the average home loses about 20-30% of all the air that is pumped through ductwork. That means that for every $100 you spend on air conditioning, about $20-30 of that is wasted. Seeing as the average air conditioner lasts about 15 years, that’s a lot of wasted cash, regardless of how much money you spend on your electricity bill every month.
Twists and Kinks
Sometimes, air ducts can be twisted or kinked causing the area that air flows through to be much smaller than it should be. This reduces the amount of air that can get through your ductwork, which again means that your AC needs to work harder to push the air through.
Like many different components of your AC, your ducts can get dirty. Dirt build-up is often caused by leaks. This is because air not only flows out through holes, but also flows in. This dirty air then clogs up your ducts, which in turn affects its ability to function optimally. Think of it like a cholesterol-clogged artery – definitely something that needs to be fixed and cleaned out as soon as possible.
- If your electricity bills seem excessively high, you may be paying extra for air that is leaking out of your ducts
- If there are certain rooms in your home that are difficult to cool, it may be because not enough cool air is able to reach the room because of a damaged duct.
- On the other hand, rooms that are constantly cold are also an indication of leaking ducts. If cold air is leaking out of your ducts it may be going directly into another room, unintentionally cooling it.
How to Fix the Problem
- Hire a contractor. Ducts can be located in areas that are dangerous to access, so it’s best to let someone with the right tools get to the problem area.
- It can also be difficult to actually find a leak, as holes can be very small or improperly sealed ducts difficult to notice. Don’t let a little leak go unnoticed. Rather, spend some of that money you will be saving on hiring someone who knows what they are doing.
- If you do try fix leaks yourself, do not use duct tape. Despite it’s name, duct tape will not solve your problem. The rising air will push against the tape, and eventually cause it to peel off.
- Regular professional cleaning and maintenance can help avoid all of these problems and catch issues before they become even bigger (and costlier) to repair.