If air ducts in an air conditioning system leak, keeping the home cool will take more work. Using more energy means those same leaks will also drive up the utility bills. But, inefficient air conditioning ducts are common in houses across the country.
Effective home air conditioning systems require more than simply venting cooled air into the home. The process involves the exchange of heat to change the temperature of inside living areas. The system circulates cooled air to work efficiently while removing heat and humidity from inside spaces. When the system has leaky ducts, this process is less than efficient.
According to Energy Star summaries, home air conditioning systems can lose up to 20% efficiency due to leaking air ducts. By addressing the problem, homeowners are able to experience the following benefits:
– Reduced utility bills
– Lower costs for routine and nonroutine repairs
– Fewer surprise repairs
– Improved efficiency of the cooling system
– Greater comfort inside the home
– Cleaner air due to fewer allergens and irritants
– Sense of pride in reducing environmental waste
– Satisfaction in knowing the system is operating optimally
The Process of Addressing Leaks in the Ducts
Though it sounds like a simple job, inspecting the home cooling system ducts is a hot, sticky, and somewhat hazardous job. If there is no basement, the repairs will require getting into crawl spaces and sometimes going into the attic. It may require coming in contact with insulation, working in dark spaces, and working in tight spaces.
Before the ducts can be inspected, it is best to prepare. Using a flashlight to look into the crawl space is a good start. In some homes, the crawl space is so tight even air conditioning specialists don’t look forward to the job. If you don’t like spiders, snakes or are claustrophobic, it’s time to call a local Syracuse air conditioning repair professional. It’s not a good idea to attempt inspection and/or repair of your air conditioning system if you are extremely uncomfortable.
Prepared to Do AC Repair on your own? Here’s what you need to do:
1. You need protection in the form of a mechanic’s jumpsuit or a disposable coverall. You can buy an inexpensive one for about $15, or you can buy a more durable one, depending on your budget. The jumpsuit provides protection from dirt, dust, and things that crawl. It also provides several pockets for holding necessary tools.
2. Gather the right tools. Sealing air ducts does not require an extensive list of tools. You need these basics:
** Closing box cutter and additional blades
** Adjustable flashlight for working in tight spaces
** An inch-wide paint brushes with a long handle
** Dust mask
** Tie straps or tie downs to hang fallen ducts
** Tin snips for trimming joints
** Second flashlight to serve as a backup
** A roll of 2″ or 3″ cold weather HVAC
** A 4 ft. section of 1″ PVC pipe with an elbow for moving insulation that is falling or has fallen, as well as to move debris or the occasional snake that doesn’t want to leave on its own.
** Heating and air system sealant that meets testing procedures for low flammability and other safety measures, such as low smoke development rate. The sealant is available in caulk tubes. However, a brush should also be used to push it into any areas that need to be sealed.
3. The sealing process and making ducts airtight
This is a process involving visual acuity to find holes in flex ducts, where animals often try to make their home in the colder Winter months. This is one of the areas where you may need to use the cold weather foil tape and possibly replace the flex duct and the insulation around it.
When sealing connections and split joints, the tape and sealant appear to work best for the job. If the joints are not cut property, the box cutter or tin snips can help you get a better fit prior to sealing or taping the joint.
To seal vents where they enter rooms, use the certified sealant applied carefully. Make sure the caulk is spread around the area completely, especially around the floor joists. It may also be helpful to seal the walls where the flashing runs through them.
If needed, the same procedures can be used in the attic or garage.
Notes about sealing home air conditioning duct work
Maybe these steps seem unnecessary. But consider this. Your lungs would have to work much harder if they were full of tiny holes. Small leaks in the home duct work make it harder for your air conditioning system to do the job it’s supposed to do and do it efficiently.