In order for your HVAC system to work properly and efficiently, it’s important that all parts of the system are in good shape. In an HVAC system, the furnace or air conditioner heats or cools the air. This air is then dispersed throughout the ducts. The purpose of air ducts is to deliver cool or warm air into your home from your HVAC system. Perhaps a better name for air ducts would be hot-or-cold-air ducts. This is because the air that travels through the ducts is set by your thermostat to be either cool or warm.
The process of heating or cooling your home, however, might become undermined by the ducts’ seals. If the seals loosen, this could cause more problems for you and your HVAC system. Unfortunately, you might not be aware of loosened ducts if you don’t have the experienced knowledge of an HVAC contractor. Lack of awareness about an HVAC system’s construction and its design suggests you should invest in routine HVAC inspections. A thorough examination could catch problems such as loose air ducts and prevent bigger problems from developing.
Why are loose air ducts such a problem, though?
Loss of Air
A loose air duct refers to a duct that has gaps. The ducts are joined or sealed together with an adhesive product. Once the adhesive disintegrates, the ducts won’t seal together as they should. This can cause large gaps between pipes that lead to a lot of air loss and can make your HVAC unit run more often or longer than it should.
What do you think would happen if there was “only” a slight gap in the connection between duct parts? Air will still escape. A partial break in the seal won’t be enough to let all the airflow escape, but still, a significant amount would be lost from the pipe. Even a pipe that’s only losing 10-20% of heat or air will affect your home’s interior and increase your heating and cooling bills.
The Impact of Air Loss
Several things happen at once when air escapes from holes or between gaps in the ducts. Escaping air means energy waste. For a furnace to work, the fuel must get through lines to reach the pilot light. Then, the ignition system will light the pilot light to heat the fuel coming through the system. This heated fuel warms the air that’s dispersed into the ducts, so you have heat delivered to each room in your home.
When your ducts are experiencing problems and losing heat, your furnace will keep running to compensate for the loss to maintain your desired temperature setting. Not only are you using more fuel to heat your home, but you’re paying more for the fuel and the electricity to operate your unit. On top of that, your unit is under more strain, which leads to more wear and tear on the unit, which can result in your unit failing prematurely.
If you’ve been wondering why your fuel usage and electricity bills have increased, you should seek out a reliable, trained HVAC technician to inspect your HVAC system and ducts. Don’t wait and hope for a reprieve that may or may not come from milder than expected climate temperatures this season. Like the old adage goes, it’s best to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
Yearly cleaning of air ducts could be a great way to reveal potential problems early before they morph into more complicated issues that’ll only cost more money to fix later on down the line. HVAC technicians are trained to recognize ductwork imperfections on sight.
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The Value of a HVAC Inspection
During an HVAC inspection, a technician cleans your HVAC system and the connected ducts while doing an inspection for potential problems. There’s usually no immediate sign when a seal breaks or otherwise becomes damaged. However, if you have an HVAC inspection, the technician could learn about the problem early on so you can go ahead and address it before it worsens. An inexperienced homeowner on a DIY mission might not notice a slight defect in their ducts, especially considering that many of your ducts are within the walls of your home where you can’t see them. That’s why it’s important to get an experienced technician to perform annual maintenance on your HVAC system and ducts. Not only do they have the knowledge of what to look for, but they also have the proper tools and equipment to help them do it too.
Also, some preventive maintenance steps might reduce the potential for other costly troubles from occurring. For example, there could be a rodent infestation inside the ducts. The rodents may contribute to the seals coming loose. Putting an end to the infestation might also stop troubles with the ducts.
Besides pest problems, there may be other issues contributing to loosened ducts.
Causes of Loose Seals
Knowing why duct seals become loose could help you figure out ways to prevent the problem. With rodents, for example, signing up for a pest extermination plan may be helpful.
Sometimes ducts become lose when you perform home maintenance and repair work. Even if the work occurs away from the ducts, the ducts may suffer ill effects. Building an addition on a home might “shake” the foundation, which might adversely impact the ductwork. Obviously, the remodelers and contractors are not inflicting damage on purpose, but the damage may still occur.
Major or minor work on a home may or may not affect the ducts. Either way, once work ends, you should keep an eye on your heating and cooling bills. If there’s an odd increase in your monthly payments, then issues with the ducts may be the cause.
Vibrations from streets or issues with the house settling could cause ducts to come loose, too. Any type of movement might have an impact on the ducts. The ducts may not come loose right away, but constant vibrations or movement could lead to the ducts coming apart.
Even if you don’t experience strange vibrations or movement, age alone might affect your ducts. Although metal duct pipes tend to last longer, moisture can still cause them to rust. And ducts that are made from a type of plastic can also break down with age by becoming brittle and developing holes.
Fixing the Problem
Loose ducts shouldn’t stay loose for long. Requesting repair work on the ducts isn’t something to put off. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t know a problem exists when they can’t readily see their ducts. Signing up for a maintenance plan that comes with an annual inspection could reveal troubles, which sets the stage for instituting a fix.
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