Forced-air heating and cooling is one of the most effective ways to quickly get your home toasty warm or comfortably cool. Unfortunately, this system can also be incredibly inefficient, especially if you neglect the ductwork.
The ducts carry the heated and cooled air throughout the home, and if something goes wrong, you may have to use more energy and money to properly heat or cool your home. So check out these three tips for maintaining your ducts so they don't promote inefficient heating and cooling.
Ensure They Are Properly Insulated
Some of the ducts in your home are installed in the interior ceilings, floors, and walls of your home. These areas are usually temperature-controlled because they are part of your living space. Therefore, as heated air travels through these ducts, it retains most of its heat. When it is expelled through the vents, the air is warmer, so you use less energy to reach the desired temperature.
Some ducts, however, pass through zones that aren't temperature-controlled (attic, basement, crawlspace, etc.), which can cause heat loss or heat gain.
For example, during the summer, your attic gets hot and humid, which can warm the cooled air traveling through ducts, forcing you to use more energy to get cool. The best way to prevent this warming from happening is to ensure these exposed ducts are properly insulated.
Fix Gaps and Holes
If your ducts weren't installed correctly, they may have gaps and holes. Similarly, wear and tear or damage can also cause small punctures to develop or cause the segments to separate. In fact, holes and gaps in ducts are so common, they can reduce a system's efficiency by 20 percent. Part of maintaining your ductwork should be addressing these holes, which will boost the efficiency of the system.
You may be able to fix some ducts yourself because they are easy to access (exposed basement and attic ducts, for example). Mastic sealant or metal tape is the ideal choice because it is more durable and lasts longer than duct tape. Many ducts, however, are hard to locate, so it may be best to hire a professional. They may be able to test for holes or find additional problems that affect the efficiency.
Request Regular Duct Cleaning
Even if you have a great filter and keep it clean, dust and debris will collect in the ducts. This can affect the indoor air quality, making it difficult for people to breathe, especially if they have asthma, allergies, or COPD. However, dirty ducts can also cause less cooled or heated air to reach your living space, creating an uncomfortable environment and forcing you to use more money and energy.
However, dirty ducts can also put extra strain on the system because it forces the system to work harder. As debris continues to collect, the passage narrows. Like a heart pushing blood through clogged arteries, this makes your system work harder to deliver heated or cooled air. As a result, your system may need more frequent repairs, or you may have to replace it sooner than expected.
Your ducts need regular maintenance to keep the entire system working well, and while you can take some steps to keep the ducts in good condition, you should also consider professional repairs and cleanings.
With professional attention, your system will become more efficient, so you use less money to heat and cool your home. If you would like more information regarding duct cleaning and maintenance, or if you want to know what else you can do to maintain your system, contact us at Robert L. Shealy Heating & Air Conditioning today.