The air duct system is a key part of keeping the air quality and environment inside a building comfortable. It sends the air from your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system to every room. When there is duct leakage in the ductwork, it can lead to a number of problems, like low energy efficiency, bad indoor air quality, and high energy bills.
What are Duct Leaks?
Though the air duct system is crucial for keeping your space comfortable, it is among the most overlooked parts of HVAC systems. When duct leaks occur, the conditioned air leaks right through the cracks, duct seams, and gaps before it reaches your home or office.
There are three types of duct leaks:
- Supply Leaks: This is when the air supply ducts leak, causing the airflow from the system to the rooms to decrease.
- Equipment Leakages: This is the most overlooked type of leakage. It involves components, such as the furnace cabinets and coil seams, that blow or suction air. When these seams are not properly sealed, there can be decreased air flow.
- Return Leakages: This is when the unconditioned air in such areas as the wall cavities and attics gets sucked into the ventilation unit. It then gets transported back into the system. This extra load can strain your HVAC unit because it will be conditioning air from the unconditioned spaces instead of simply reconditioning the air.
Signs of Duct Leakage to Look Out For
Increased Energy Bills
If you notice a dramatic increase in your energy bill, there could most likely be a problem with your HVAC system’s ductwork. When the air ducts begin to leak, the system transports conditioned air to places where it is not required, like the basement or attic, rather than the rooms in use. This makes it much harder for the system to get and keep the temperature inside at a comfortable level, which causes it to use more energy.Though usage of the HVAC system may not necessarily increase, there will be a significant rise in your energy bills.
Cold and Hot Spots
Another telltale sign of duct leaks is uneven temperatures or cold and hot spots throughout the building. The central air systems should distribute conditioned air evenly. So, different temperatures from room to room signal uneven cooling and heating—a classic sign of duct leakage in the system. You could adjust the thermostat settings, but there will be no complete relief until the leak is addressed.
Some dust in your office space or home is okay, but if you notice the air feels dusty and there are some dust specks on your arm, chances are there is duct leakage in your HVAC system. Leaky ducts do more than distribute conditioned air where it is unnecessary; they also spread the accumulation of hidden dust throughout the building’s open living and working areas.
If you have a lot more dust in the open office or home areas, yet daily activities have not changed, there could be a leaking duct in the air conditioning system. Dust buildups are a health risk to the residents of the building and can lead to allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions.
Your HVAC is Struggling to Maintain the Temperature
Duct leakage lets cooled and heated air sneak out, hence leading to it not reaching its intended location. This, in turn, causes your HVAC unit to struggle to achieve the desired settings. If everything else fails, check for possible holes or gaps in your HVAC system’s ductwork.
Other Decreases in Indoor Air Quality
In addition to bringing more dust into indoor living and working areas, duct leakage can also cause toxic fumes to spread, thereby causing illness. They do this by pulling air from the outdoors and basement, such as air with pesticides or paint fumes, which can present a health risk for the residents of the building. Always investigate any strong odors.
Duct Leak Detection
Look For Apparent Leaks.
Check the ductwork for any obvious tears, then mark the problem areas using a grease pencil. Marking these areas helps you get to the leaky ducts later to address them.
Run Your Hvac Unit at Full Blast.
It will be hard to locate any obvious leaks unless you turn on the HVAC on high, so the system blows air. Doing this will increase the amount of airflow, which will make it easier to find any leaks.
Look Out for Any Old Duct-Tapes
Duct tape, despite its name, is not designed to seal ducts. It is not a permanent fix, meaning the problem areas will cause trouble again, eventually. So, if you notice ductwork with duct tape, have the tape removed, then get a professional to seal it properly.
Pay Attention to Duct Joints
Duct joints are among the most leak-prone areas of the ductwork system. These are where two air ducts meet. You will be aware of a duct leak if you put your hand near a joint and feel the air coming out.
Use a Smoke Pencil or Incense Stick
With the HVAC unit on, carry an incense stick or smoke pencil steadily along the ducts and watch for any movement in the ductwork; this will show you if the airflow is escaping the ducts. If you notice or suspect any air duct leak, mark it with a grease pencil to know where it is.
Duct Leakage Testing
Professionals typically use an air duct leakage test to find any duct leaks. This method employs specialized equipment that runs a pressurized duct leakage tester to see if there are any airflow leaks in the ducts. It makes duct leakage measurements to get the total duct leakage in both the unconditional and conditional parts of your commercial or residential building. This test helps pinpoint exactly where the leakage problem is: equipment, supply, or a return leakage.
Trust Us for All Your Hvac System Duct Leakage Testing, Repairs, and Servicing in Tampa, Fl
Fairway Heating and Cooling, LLC, is Tampa’s number one HVAC team. We are a family-owned company that has done air conditioning installation, replacement, repair, and servicing for the residents of Tampa, Florida, and its surroundings areas. If you’re having trouble finding duct leaks, our team of highly trained experts is not only helpful, but also friendly and committed to giving you the best service possible. For more information on duct leakage testing and detection, or to schedule a service, you can visit or call us at (813) 443-9439.