Your HVAC system's air ducts aren't on your mind often. That is, they're probably not on your mind at all. They seamlessly carry heated and cooled air from your furnace and air conditioner to every space of your home - keeping you comfortable all year long. Even though you regularly have your HVAC system checked, you may skip maintenance on the ducts. After all, they're just metal tubes, right?
Wrong. The ductwork is a vital part of your HVAC system. If it's not functioning properly, your heating and cooling will suffer. This can cost you money, time, and your family's comfort. While you might know the red flags that signal your furnace, boiler, or AC unit needs a replacement, what should you look for when it comes to your air ducts? Read on to find out.
1. Increased Energy Bills
Cracks, gaps, and other leaks in your air ducts aren't just annoying. These problems can force your heater or air conditioner into working harder than it has to. Duct leaks allow air that should go to your vents to escape before it can heat or cool your home. The less air going from your HVAC system directly to your home, the longer your heater or air conditioner needs to stay on. This reduces energy efficiency and raises your utility bills.
If you see a sudden spike in your natural gas, electric, or another HVAC-related utility bill, then your first thought may be to check the unit itself. But if your furnace or central air conditioner is working properly and it has been maintained, then the ducts may be at fault.
Contact a professional HVAC technician to check your ducts. The expert can evaluate your ductwork, find leaks, and help you to decide if they can repair the problem or if a replacement is needed.
2. Reduced Heating and Cooling
Leaks can raise your energy usage, but debris-clogged air ducts can also cause a similar situation. A constricted duct also forces your heater or air conditioner to work harder. Again, this raises the energy consumption and your bills too.
Along with looking at your bills, paying attention to how your home feels can signal whether you have a duct problem or not. Rooms that feel too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer may not be getting enough air through the ducts.
How can you tell if your air ducts are clogged? An HVAC professional can inspect the system and the ducts. If they don't find anything wrong with the heater or air conditioner but see debris in the ducts, then you have a ventilation problem.
While dirty or dusty ducts don't typically require a replacement, those that are severely clogged - clogged enough that they restrict airflow to a bare minimum - and have other structural issues may need to go.
3. Air Quality Issues
The gunk and grime that's clogging your ducts aren't just restricting airflow and raising your bills - it's also reducing your air quality. Poor indoor air quality can cause respiratory issues, a stuffy nose, a sore throat, and headaches. It can also trigger allergies and asthma. The first step toward improving indoor air quality is to make sure that your HVAC system is clean - especially the filters.
If that doesn't work, the problem may be in the ductwork. Aging ducts that are debris-filled or contain allergens can cause problems for the very young, the elderly, and those with sensitivities. Replacing ducts that don't respond to regular cleaning and maintenance can help to eliminate these issues.
Do you need new air ducts? B & K Services can create custom ductwork for your needs. Contact us for more information on our services.