Leaky ducts, which will be identified during the HVAC duct inspection that occurs when a professional air duct cleaning company begins an HVAC unit cleaning, might pose problems for your HVAC system.
Your duct work has been carefully engineered to do things: pull air in from the house, sending it to the HVAC unit to be cooled or heated, and send the altered air back to the house, to make your living environment comfortable. “Return” ducts are the ducts where the unaltered air is pulled from the house to the unit; “supply” ducts are the ducts the unit uses to spread the heated or cooled air back into the house. One way to tell the two apart is to remember that the return ducts are the ducts that require you to replace the air duct filter periodically.
2. What Causes Ducts to Leak?
Ducts can leak because joints have broken or because an unexpected hole can develop. They can also link because of improper installation or poorly connected ducts. Any of these problems will be discovered if you have your ducts inspected. Each also requires an air duct repair before you can do anything else to your system, such as an air duct cleaning or HVAC unit cleaning. Otherwise, the cleaning is just a waste of your time and money – the leaks will simply cause the system to pull in additional dirt and debris even after it is cleaned.
3. What Problems do Leaky Ducts Cause?
Leaky supply ducts (ducts that leak the altered air on its way back into the house) cause the HVAC system to burn more energy, since the some of the altered air escapes through the leaks to the attic, basement or outside of the house. Second, supply ducts that leak need to pull air from outside to keep the system working at the right pressures. The outside air is still unaltered, making your HVAC system working harder than ever.
Leaky return ducts also cause energy loss for many of the same reasons, but they can also pose a health hazard, especially when you have a leaky return duct near your furnace in an enclosed space. As the leaky return duct pulls the air from the enclosed space, the pressure in the enclosed space will also go down. As the pressure decreases, fumes from the furnace that were originally designed to be discharged outside the house are pulled back into the enclosed space and then distributed throughout the house by the HVAC system, creating dangers from either carbon monoxide or radon gas.
Whichever side of your duct work, return or supply or both, is leaking, be sure that you get them repaired as soon as possible. Your pocketbook and your body will both thank you for it.