02 Nov Check Your Heating Ducts & Improve Your Home Comfort
Does your home feel drafty? Is your home uncomfortable during the winter? If so, you are not alone. Many homes around the country rely on old, leaky and uninsulated HVAC ductwork. As a result, estimates show homeowners waste about 20% of heating and cooling costs on leaky duct systems. Don’t let this happen to you this winter! Take the time to check the heating duct and improve your home comfort.
To help, the GreenHomes America home comfort experts share some details about heating ducts and your home HVAC ductwork.
What is HVAC ductwork?
Homes contain a series of ducts (or tunnels), which circulates air throughout the house. The ducts circulate warm air in the winter and cold air in the summer. This is your HVAC ductwork.
As duct systems distribute heated or cooled air throughout our homes, they should be leak free and insulated. For example, do your heating ducts contain any air leaks? If so, then you are essentially throwing money out the window. Plus, particularly in the winter, we want the heating duct insulated wherever it passes through any unheated spaces in your home.
Home ductwork relies on two basic types of heating and cooling ducts.
- Supply ducts carry warm, heated air (or cooled, air conditioned air) from your furnace to all the rooms of your house.
- Return ducts allow the air from the different areas of your home to flow back to the furnace.
How do I prevent air leaks in my HVAC ductwork?
Frequently, supply and return ducts are located in unconditioned attics, garages, crawl spaces and basements. Any air leaks occurring in unconditioned spaces is air from your furnace or central air condition lost directly to the outside. For example, any heated air that leaks from the furnace due to a leak in the basement does not reach your living room. As a result, the cost to heat that air is lost. Plus, the heated air lost to the outside of your house contributes to uncomfortable conditions in your home.
Duct leaks into conditioned spaces do not result in the severe energy penalty as leaks into unconditioned spaces. However, these leak create poor comfort conditions within homes.
Additionally, uninsulated ductwork in unconditioned attics, garages, crawl spaces and basements results in excessive heat loss and poor heating/cooling system efficiency. For example, a heating duct carries very warm air from your furnace to all of the rooms in your house. Uninsulated ducts lose their heat quickly robbing your house of the warm air needed for comfort.
GreenHomes recommends complete duct sealing for all HVAC ductwork. In addition, GreenHomes recommends insulating all ducts (heating and cooling) in all unconditioned spaces or where condensation occurs within your ductwork.
How about heating duct testing?
You can (and should) test your home’s ducts for leaks. However, proper duct testing typically requires a trained or certified professional because of the difficulty.
Although more popular in newer homes, experienced professionals conduct duct air leakage testing in older homes as well. The duct test is performed using a ductblaster (a small fan) connected to the ductwork to pressurize the ducts. When the ductwork is pressurized, the extent of air leaks can be measured accurately (in CFM25 or in Cubic Feet per Minute of air at a pressure difference of 25 pascals). It is also possible to measure the percentage of total duct leakage to the outside of the home versus the inside. Duct testing is an effective way of measuring how leaky your home's duct system is and where the leaks are located.
How do I seal and insulate HVAC ductwork?
GreenHomes recommends ductwork be sealed so the ductwork is as leak free as possible. To best accomplish this, there are many types of sealants available including:
- mastic sealers.
- spray foams.
- approved tapes (don’t use duct tape!).
Since your entire home contains HVAC ductwork, including those hard to reach places, consider working with an experienced contractor.
In addition to sealing, remember insulating your ducts as well. Particularly as winter approaches, insulating your home heating ducts improves energy efficiency and home comfort.
GreenHomes recommends ducts insulation at a minimum of R-8 in all unconditioned spaces or where condensation occurs. Once again, since ductwork is located throughout your home in hard to reach places, working with an experienced contractor to properly insulate and seal the ducts in your home is sensible.
How can GreenHomes America improve my heating duct and home comfort?
Duct leaks primarily drive high heating and cooling costs. Additionally, duct leaks primarily cause uncomfortable home conditions, such as drafty rooms. Therefore, sealing duct systems and installing proper insulation makes sense.
GreenHomes America takes a commonsense approach for increasing the comfort of your home, lowering your heating/cooling costs and raising your home’s efficiency. We start with informing you about common underlying causes of energy, comfort and health problems. We continue with teaching you about the corresponding solutions that work for your home. For many homes, this means starting with a home energy audit, which uncovers the root cause behind home discomfort. Find a GHA approved contractor in your area and take the first step towards improved home comfort (and lower energy costs) today.
GreenHomes believes home energy projects are far more successful when homeowners understand how their homes operate. If you understand the problems, then solutions make sense. We help you learn about the issues you want resolved! At GHA, we work with you to create a detailed process that resolves the underlying problems. As a result, we believe you'll enjoy long lasting results because you know about the root causes of common problems and solutions.