Even the most diligent and attentive homeowners often forget about their duct systems when they are making their annual to-do lists. It’s not hard to see why – after all, they are almost always completely hidden from view, and even when they are compromised, the problems might not be immediately noticeable. However, the stability of your duct system can make a significant impact on the efficiency and performance of your home comfort system. A system that is clean and well-cared-for will allow for smooth airflow that puts less strain on your HVAC unit and allows reliable comfort all year long.
Why Does Ductwork Need Maintenance?
Over time, ductwork can begin to deteriorate due to normal wear and tear. Cracks may begin to form along the walls of the duct, or could even separate completely at joints that have worn down. When this happens, cooled air is allowed to escape into the crawl space or attic, and hot, unfiltered air is pulled through the system instead.
One Department of Energy study suggests that the average duct system could be responsible for losing as much as 25-40% of the energy used by the HVAC system. Given that the heating and cooling unit on a given property is frequently its largest energy user, this represents a significant portion of your monthly utility bill that you could be saving. As if that weren’t enough, your comfort is impacted as well! Imbalances in the system result in uneven temperature throughout the home, which might make you nudge the thermostat even more to achieve the desired temperature – resulting in even more energy loss. It’s a vicious cycle.
Giving Your Duct System the Care it Deserves
The good news is, there is a way to break out of that cycle! Standard, routine maintenance performed on a yearly basis can help to identify and fix small problems before they grow so you can get the most from your system.
Just a few of the things preventative maintenance will address include:
- Ensuring that vents are unobstructed: If the vents into the home are obstructed by furniture or other fixtures, it can disrupt airflow and negatively impact proper circulation
- Identify and seal duct leaks: As we covered, leaks in ductwork can have a significant and lasting impact on the entire system, and it is important to address them as quickly as possible
- Conduct air pressure tests in the ducts: This can help to get an idea of how well-balanced the system is, where there is room for improvement, and how much air is being lost
- Inspect ducts for internal obstruction: Ensuring the ducts are properly clean and free of foreign objects helps to minimize the potential for damage down the line
- Check ductwork insulation: If your ducts are well-insulated, they will be better equipped to maintain the desired temperature as the air travels throughout the home
No matter how large or small your property may be, you can almost certainly benefit from making space on your to-do list for your ducts.