For your HVAC system to deliver quality air throughout your home, the ventilation system must be airtight. Once your air conditioner or heater turns on, the air travels through several filters and a network of pipes and junctions known as your ductwork. If the ducts sustain any damage over time, they can start to leak air. A leaky ductwork system will lead to decreased airflow throughout your home. Ultimately, this will cause your HVAC system to work harder and create a reduction in heating and cooling. Damage to the ducts could also allow contamination and allergens to enter the ventilation system and circulate the house.
From animals to accidents, there are several reasons behind damaged ductwork. If you are experiencing increased energy bills, reduced airflow, inconsistent temperatures, or poor indoor air quality, you could have damage to your ductwork. If this is the case, you’ll need to contact a pro technician to inspect your ventilation and recommend maintenance or duct repairs. Let’s take a look at some common causes of damaged ductwork.
1. Duct Age
No matter what material your ducts are made out of, all ductwork will begin to wear out with age. On average an HVAC system lasts 10-15 years. The same is true for ductwork. As it begins to age, however, the continued expansion and contraction from running hot and cold air will lead to cracks, gaps, and holes. Additionally, your ductwork will begin to sag and shift over time creaking leaky joints and gaps.
In general, a good duct system will last longer if it’s part of a regular HVAC maintenance plan. To avoid ductwork problems, it should be regularly cleaned, inspected, and repaired. If your aging ducts haven’t been regularly maintained, you probably have a few damaged spots that could be making it harder to keep your home comfortable.
2. Accident or Impact
Depending on where your ducts are located, they could be susceptible to accidents or impacts. If segments of your ducts run through places where things are often stored, such as your attic or garage, things could crush or bend the airways. Heavy impacts can cause dents or complete collapses in different sections. Many people think that metal ductwork is strong enough to set things on.
Over time, however, as the pipes become brittle and old, a segment might eventually collapse under the weight. As a best practice, you should avoid setting things on your ductwork. Additionally, an impact from moving things around could puncture soft ducts. Make sure to take care when storing or moving things around your HVAC ductwork.
If your ductwork runs through a crawl space, it could be at risk for damage from small rodents or other animals that make their way under your home. During periods of seasonal climate change, animals could find shelter in your crawl space or attic.
Unfortunately, animals could create rips, tears, dents, or even blockages in your ducts. Make sure that all ducts and vents in basements, attics and crawl spaces are sealed with a mesh or screen to restrict access. Regular inspections will also help to identify any signs of animal damage.
Depending on the location and material of your ducts, they could become a prime growing location for mold colonies. The ductwork in wet or moist locations could attract mildew or mold and invite it into your home. Not only does mold pose potential health consequences, but it also weakens the structure of your duct as it slowly eats away at it.
Mold feeds off the organic materials in your ducts and could quickly spread throughout the entire system. Once this happens, entire sections of ductwork might need to be replaced. Regular maintenance will help identify and remedy any mold problems.
HVAC ductwork often goes unnoticed until something goes wrong. When there is damage to the ventilation system in your house, you can have higher energy bills, uneven temperatures, and poor indoor air quality. From age to animals to mold, there could be a few reasons why your ducts are damaged. Regular maintenance and ductwork repair will ensure that your ducts continue to function and your home stays comfortable.