Maintaining your ductwork

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For the most part, homeowners don’t think a lot about their ductwork. Once ducts are installed, they transport heated or cooled air from your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit, invisibly distributing it throughout your home to keep you comfortable.

Every so often, though, a problem shows up. It might be that your indoor air quality is suffering or that you notice an increase in the amount of dust on surfaces, which can contribute to allergic symptoms. This could be a result of blockages and accumulated pollutants inside of your ducts. Having your ducts cleaned by a reputable company using negative air equipment usually solves this issue.

Occasionally, ducts that are typically installed behind drywall encounter a bigger problem that requires repairs or replacement. This is a bit trickier to identify and isn’t fixed with a simple duct cleaning service.

If you haven’t given much thought to your ducts in years, it’s recommended that you book a professional duct cleaning and inspection, but we also have some tips to check your ductwork on your own to assess its functioning. Identifying an issue with your ductwork and replacing a problem section can be a complex process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate through this task effectively: 

Step 1: Start by visually inspecting your ductwork to look for obvious signs of damage. Pay attention to areas where ducts are exposed, such as basements, crawlspaces, and attics. A flashlight is helpful to see ductwork sections beyond the vent openings, allowing you to look for any disconnected sections, dents, holes, or other signs of wear and tear. 

Step 2: Check the airflow from each supply register using your hand or a piece of tissue paper. If air isn’t flowing evenly, or you notice particularly weak airflow in one area of your home, it could indicate a problem in the ductwork. Similarly, if you notice excessive airflow or whistling sounds, it might signify that there are leaks or restrictions.

Step 3: Take a listen for any usual noises—they aren’t typically a good sign. Turn on your HVAC system and listen carefully for any rattling or banging sounds. These noises may indicate loose connections, obstructions, or a need for duct reinforcement.

Step 4: Check the condition of the insulation surrounding the ductwork. Damaged or missing insulation can lead to energy loss and reduced system efficiency, which means less effective heating or cooling, and higher utility bills. If insulation appears compromised, you’ll need to repair or replace it.

Step 5: Examine the connections and joints in the ductwork for signs of gaps or leaks. You don’t want conditioned air escaping from your ducts, which wastes money and means less effective temperature control inside your home. Use a flashlight to check for light passing through gaps that are allowing air to leak out. Seal any gaps or leaks with an appropriate duct sealant.

Step 6: If you get to this point in your inspection and you suspect that you have significant issues with your ductwork or you’re unable to identify the problem, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance. A skilled technician will be able to conduct a more thorough assessment using specialized tools and equipment to ensure that any issues are accurately identified. 

How to replace a problem section

If you’re certain that your ductwork requires significant repairs or the replacement of a section, it’s advisable to get professional advice, since it’s a complex project that requires a solid understanding of HVAC systems. 

Generally, ductwork repair necessitates shutting down the HVAC system entirely, which will help to prevent accidents or injuries. If a section needs to be replaced, the area should be accurately measured and materials sourced from a reputable supplier. 

To remove a damaged section, a utility knife can be used to carefully cut around the area, but you’ll need to be very cautious not to damage nearby sections or other components. Once you’re confident that the new section is the appropriate length and the edges are smoothed, attach it to the existing ducts using the appropriate connectors. It’s important to ensure a tight and secure connection. 

A duct sealant applied to the joints will help to prevent air leaks and ensure optimal system performance. You can test your new section by turning your HVAC system back on, and checking for any signs of air leakage, making adjustments if necessary.

Although this sounds relatively easy, it requires considerable expertise. Ductwork may also have limited access, making the project more challenging to complete, especially if you’re not a professional. 

If you suspect you may have a problem in your home’s ductwork that’s impacting the efficient operation of your HVAC system, start by scheduling a professional duct cleaning and inspection. Duct cleaning removes pollutants and blockages from your ductwork and allows us to identify other potential issues within your home’s duct system.

While we don’t usually give our ductwork a lot of thought, we count on it daily to distribute cooled and heated air throughout our home, which not only affects our comfort level but also the health and safety of our indoor air quality. Regular duct cleaning and maintenance by a trusted company like Whyte Ridge Furnace & Air Duct Cleaning will assure you that your HVAC system continues to operate efficiently, benefiting you with a safe and comfortable home, and lower utility bills.