In most homes, the ducts are the conduits that carry heated (and cooled) air to your living spaces. If a duct is leaking or not connected properly, you could be losing your conditioned air before it ever has a chance to reach your rooms. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, most homes lose 20 to 30 percent of their heated air before it reached the registers.
Signs of leaking ducts
1. Visible problems. One of the easiest ways to spot a leaking duct is to inspect them yourself. Most homeowners don't pay a lot of attention to their ducts. They just expect them to do their job. However, taking a few minutes at least once a year to inspect the connections and look for any holes is a good idea. Not all ducts are easily accessible. Some are located in crawl spaces or attics. If you're noticing heating problems and the accessible ducts look fine, you probably want to get a professional heating specialist to inspect the rest of the system.
2. Uneven heat. Another good sign that your ducts are leaking is when one room is warm and another is cold. This usually means that the duct leading to the cold room has a leak or has become detached.
3. Noise. Leaking ducts are often noisy. They rattle and hum as air escapes and causes the metal to vibrate.
4. Dramatic increase in utility bills. If your natural gas or electric bill spikes suddenly with no corresponding drop in temperature, this could be another sign of leaking ducts. Since your heating system has to work harder to keep the same temperature, because it's losing heated air via the leaky ducts, it will use more energy.
Fixing leaking ducts
If you find a small hole or a duct that's become detached, you can usually fix it yourself. Despite the name, duct tape is not the best product to use, as this type of tape will deteriorate over time. Instead use mastic sealant or metal tape. These materials will hold up better over the long run.
Keeping your ducts in good repair is an essential part of saving energy and keeping your utility bills in check. If your ducts have an obvious hole, if they make noise, if your house heats unevenly or if your heating bills have increased suddenly, you likely have a duct leakage problem. If you can't immediately spot the problem, it's time to call a heating professional such as Weather Crafters Limited.