- Return duct leaks can lead to unhealthy indoor air
- Leaky ducts waste 40% of an HVAC system's energy use
- Insulated ductwork increases productivity and energy saving
Ductwork and Duct Leakage Testing and Evaluation
Better Care for Air
Ductwork is cool. Except when it's hot. If you have central air conditioning, forced-air heating or both, your house contains a ductwork system that distributes conditioned (heated or cooled) air throughout your home. You have supply ducts that "blow" conditioned air to your various rooms, while return ducts bring air back to the furnace or air-conditioning unit so that this air can be heated or cooled and then redistributed. This cycle continues until your thermostat tells your furnace or AC unit that the right temperature has been reached.
What's at Stake:
Sound Ductwork Makes a Difference
Properly sized, properly installed ductwork is critical in any heating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. Unfortunately, ductwork is frequently overlooked when evaluating your home's energy performance, despite its importance. As a result, bad things happen.
Leaky supply ducts let air you've already paid to heat or cool "leak away" before it gets into your home. Leaky return ducts allow unconditioned air from your attic, basement, or crawlspace to "leak into" your system. In both cases, the air that reaches your living space isn't as warm or cool as it's supposed to be, so your comfort is compromised.
If conditioned air leaks away before it reaches your living space, obviously you're not getting something that you paid for. If air from your hot attic or your freezing basement or crawlspace leaks into your system, it takes more energy (and money) to either cool it down or warm it up to make it usable for conditioning your living space. In essence, you could be cooling or heating the great outdoors without even realizing it!
Indoor air quality
If you have return duct leaks, you could be pumping "bad air" directly into your living space whenever your system runs. You wouldn't want to breathe crawl space or attic air all day, but if you have this uncontrolled leakage, you might be! Leaky ducts also cause indoor air quality problems because of "pressure imbalances" that put some rooms or areas under positive pressure and others under negative pressure. This can cause unhealthy air (laden with dirt, dust, pollen, allergens, and other contaminants) to be sucked into your home.
Pressure imbalances caused by leaky ducts can cause backdrafting in combustion appliances such as furnaces, wood stoves and gas ranges. When this happens, you risk exposure to carbon monoxide, a deadly gas.
Dr. Energy Saver says...
As much as 40% of an HVAC system's energy consumption can be wasted due to leaky ducts. That's why it's so important for any home energy checkup to include thorough ductwork testing and evaluation.
- Take a closer look at air duct leakage.
- Read about the different air duct materials.
- I've read enough, I want to schedule my Home Energy Checkup!
New Furnace, Same Old Problem
Properly sized, properly installed
ductwork is critical in any heating
and air-conditioning (HVAC) system.
The Burners Family finally decided to replace their old heating and cooling system with a new, state-of-the art unit from one of the big-name brands. "You won't believe how much better the new system is going to work, and how much money you're gonna save on your monthly utility bills" their HVAC contractor promised. The new system was much quieter than the old one, and seemed to do an "okay" job of heating and cooling the house, but "much better" wasn't the way the Burners were feeling. And then when the utility bills came, Mr. Burner was -well-- burned up to see that his new system wasn't saving him money.
"What gives?" he asked the contractor. "I thought you said the new system was more energy efficient?"
The contractor made several calls and sent multiple technicians to try and see what the problem was, and each time they had the same answer, which was actually no answer at all; "Mr. Burner, the new equipment is working fine, there's nothing wrong." They were nice enough, but they never solved the mystery of the high energy bills.
Mr. Burners' neighbor told him to give Dr. Energy Saver a call, because they had done a similar project and lowered their bills by 35%. After a visit from Dr. Energy Saver, Mr. Burner learned that his leaky duct system was the culprit, a possibility his previous contractor hadn't even considered. After some careful diagnostic work, the ducts were sealed, the system was balanced, and the Burners finally enjoyed the comfort and energy savings they expected.
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