We’ve talked about upgrading HVAC and heating systems again and again in these pages, but many times, people assume ductwork is a fixed asset. Truth be told, many times, ductwork is the reason for cooling and heating issues, a lack of efficiency within systems, and even high energy costs in older homes. Why is that?
Well, the first thing to remember is that there has been very little in the way of technological change in ductwork. Essentially, you have two choices – rigid or flexible – and in many of the cases we see here at Air Plus, the real issue isn’t the quality of the ducting but the quality of the duct installation. At the same time, the insulating ability of ductwork has gotten much better. Older homes where central air was retrofitted and then routed through the older forced air heater ducting are also likely culprits. The reason is simple – the cross-section for airflow from a furnace is generally smaller than the cross-section needed for HVAC.
The result is an air conditioner that doesn’t cool as well as it should or isn’t balanced throughout your home. At the same time, if your home was originally built with A/C and your ducts run through walls, the cost to replace ducts could be prohibitive.
Here’s the deal – many times, when our team of specialists are in a home and speaking with the homeowner, we encounter poor workmanship or duct degradation due to age. Sometimes that degradation is the result of blockages from dust, debris, or (most dangerously) mold, but other times it is simply a case of air leakage between joints and collapsed ducts due to accidents.
As much as we’d like to simply scrap every piece of ductwork in some homes, it is critical to understand the overall condition of the ducts – oftentimes, there was no sealing done at all in ducts installed prior to 1980. Why not? Energy was cheap and it simply wasn’t done. Sometimes it is better to start with a completely rebuilt duct system, but we’ve seen plenty of times that a thorough cleaning and sanitizing of the entire system – as well as sealing – can have a tremendous impact.
On the other hand, today, energy is expensive and there is no reason to think that it will ever get cheaper. As a result, many times, once our specialists are inspecting homes, we find that rebuilding the duct system in a home can result in real savings for the homeowner and (don’t tell anybody!) can represent a tax benefit to the homeowner if the systems meet certain requirements.
Energy efficiency is one thing, but air quality is another. Mold, mildew, dust, dander, and air leakage are all aspects of leaking ducts, so a thorough cleaning or replacement of the ductwork results in a much cleaner and healthier home. The simple fact is that ducts run through places of your home that are prone to being dirtier, so any leak is going to allow those particles into the air that flows into the living areas of your home. Those stray sniffles that seem to affect family members? They very well could be caused by air leaks in your ductwork and dust and pollen infiltrating your home.
The last real benefit of changing and cleaning your ductwork is that it allows your HVAC system to be balanced throughout the home. In those “old” days, every duct was the same size and the room farthest from the air unit was usually markedly warmer than those closer. Now, with smarter systems and higher-quality ducting available, the amount of cooling loss, condensation, and temperature deviation from room to room can be controlled.
At Air Plus, we never are in a hurry to condemn ductwork, but we are also openminded about the many problems that older ductwork can have. No matter what direction you choose to go, it is critical that you understand how ductwork impacts your HVAC, your energy costs, and your family’s health. If you’re ready to find out for yourself – or think you may have some challenges due to your ducts – then don’t hesitate to reach out to us here or at 858-505-8711 619-276-8165 and let’s get your “ducts” in a row!