Your home is a castle, but without a functioning HVAC system, your castle could feel more like a sauna. Air ducts make sure your entire home stays cool throughout the summer and warm during the winters, but what happens when one starts to leak?
Find out how you can tell if you have a leaky air duct and what that means for your home.
What Can Happen If You Ignore a Leak in Your Air Ducts?
When a water pipe leaks, it can lead to water damage and mold and cause thousands of dollars in damage, but an air duct carries air. A little extra air isn’t going to cause property damage or ruin the integrity of your home, but it can cause lasting consequences.
A properly sealed duct system efficiently delivers air where it’s needed. Damaged or disconnected air ducts lead to wasted energy because conditioned air isn’t being delivered to all the rooms in your home. Instead of equally heating or cooling all rooms simultaneously, you get imbalances that cause your system to work harder to reach and maintain a consistent temperature.
A small leak in an air duct results in higher utility bills and a shorter life for your HVAC unit. Since the HVAC unit is working harder than it needs to, this also results in more frequent needs for repairs and maintenance.
6 Ways to Detect a Leak in Your Air Duct
Leaks in your air duct can be small, but it’s essential to find them before they become a larger problem. Here are six ways to check to see if your ducts have leaks.
1. Take a Look
Air ducts are hidden in your home in small crawl spaces and your attic, but that doesn’t mean they’re entirely unavailable to inspect. Climb to where your ducts are and take a look at each section for visible gaps, disconnections, and tears.
Keep a sharp eye out for duct tape. You would think that using duct tape on your home ducts would be obvious, but duct tape is a sign of a rushed, inefficient repair job. If you see duct tape, closely inspect the area because the leak it is covering may still be present.
2. Turn Your HVAC System On
Your system should have a fan-only mode. This will pump air through your ductwork without heating or cooling it and make detecting leaks easier. Slowly inspect your ductwork by placing your hand over the duct to feel for any escaping air.
Because some leaks in your air duct can be a tiny pinprick and not visible to the eye, you may want to bring a piece of string or a sheet of paper to test with. Dangle the string or paper over the duct–if it starts to flutter, you have a leak.
3. Check the Temperature in Each Room
A perfectly functioning AC system will maintain your home’s airflow, ensuring that every room is approximately the same temperature. By checking the temperature in each room, you can identify particularly warm or cool spots.
In rooms that are colder than average, there is a chance of a leak in the air duct, causing more cold air to enter. Warm rooms can signal that air is not getting to that room, indicating a leak or blockage.
If you have a single room that always feels stuffy and warm, your first step should be to check the vents. Your problem may not be a leaky duct but a closed vent that doesn’t allow any air to come into the room. If all of the vents are open and you’re still not feeling enough cool air coming into the room, then there’s a good chance something is wrong with the ducts.
4. Pay Attention to Your AC
For many homes, the dull hum of the AC turning on and off is just part of life. It’s something we’ve learned to tune out, especially among all the other humming appliances. The problem with tuning it out, however, is we don’t realize how often our unit turns on.
So don’t ignore it. Actively pay attention throughout the day to:
- How often your AC turns on
- How long is stays on
During the summer, a single AC cycle should last for about 15 to 20 minutes each time. That should be enough to make your home comfortable. Your system may run longer if you have a difference between your current and target temperature. Cooling a home for the first time during a hot summer may also take longer to maintain that temperature. However, a lengthy AC cycle may indicate a leak in your air ducts.
5. Check for Dust
It’s normal for every home to have at least some dust in it. Especially if you live in a dry or arid location, dust will naturally be in the air and settle around your home. There’s no reason to think your ducts are leaking if you see a normal amount of dust, but leaky air ducts make homes significantly dustier than usual.
A leak in your duct allows air to enter into the ductwork and then spread throughout your home. Do you need to dust every single week to keep it under control? That could indicate an issue.
A constant film of dust covering your home is annoying, but could also harm your health. If you have things like paint thinners or pesticides sitting in storage near the leak in the air duct, those toxic fumes could end up in your ducts, damaging your family’s health.
6. Your AC Always Needs to Be Repaired
An annual checkup and maintenance visit is perfectly normal and a best practice for keeping your AC working as it should. It’s like taking your car in for an oil change.
However, if that annual maintenance visit always replaces a belt, fan, or motor, or if your newly installed AC is only a few years old and you have to pay for expensive repairs, it’s time to check your ducts.
ACs are designed to have a lifespan of about 15 to 20 years if maintained properly. But if your ducts are leaking, your AC unit has to work harder and more often to cool your home, shortening its lifespan and requiring more maintenance.
Schedule a Duct Inspection Today
If you think there’s a chance your ducts are leaking, it’s time to talk to the experts at Absolute Air. We’re pros at dealing with the warm Utah summers and the freezing winters and know how to keep your entire HVAC system working properly.
Contact us today to schedule your duct inspection and learn more about our services.