Duct Cleaning and Sealing

Summer is here in the Charlotte area, and if your central air conditioner just isn’t keeping up with the demand you need to stay cool in your home, it may be time to have the hvac duct system checked out.

During a recent call, B&E AC and Heating told us that homeowners may need to do more than just check the return filters. They should also have their duct cleaned and inspected each year, to make sure the system always works at its peak efficiency. Annual duct inspection will also assure that airflow is not being restricted, causing the evaporator coil to freeze, or worse, leaking conditioned out of the duct and wasting energy!

In this Charlotte HVAC Guide article, we’ll take a brief look into your home’s hvac duct system, explain how it works, the value of routine duct inspections, and the importance of maintaining a clean and properly sealed duct system to allow proper airflow. If you have a high-efficiency air conditioner in your home, it’s even more important, since you may be wasting the same energy you should be saving!

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The Duct Moves the Air in Your Home

The duct in your home is the main avenue airflow takes from the air handler to your rooms. Once the air is cooled by the air conditioner and coil (or heated during the cooler months) a blower forces it through the duct system to each room or area within your home. Think of the duct like it’s a water pipe for air. It needs to be clear of obstructions to flow freely, and sealed perfectly tight to assure none of the air leaks out where it’s not intended!

  • Supply Duct – Supplies conditioned air to the rooms or areas of your home. Usually has a small vent on the wall, floor or ceiling, that you can control with a slide-lever, to direct or open and close the airflow. You may have several supply vents throughout your home, with 1 or more in each room.
  • Return Air Duct – Returns the air from your home to the HVAC system. These are the larger grills (14×20 inch is common) that usually contain a filter, and are most often located nearest the thermostat in your home. In most cases, you only have 1 or 2 of these larger return air grills in your home.

Supply ducts are insulated so they maintains the air temperature as it travels through crawl spaces, attics, and above garage areas that are not climate controlled. If the insulation is torn or damaged, that will have a direct effect on the temperature of the air traveling through it.

Duct Inspections and Testing

If you have an annual maintenance plan with your central ac contractor, you need to ask them if they inspect your duct on each visit. It’s not always included in your annual maintenance plan, but if they do, ask them about the condition of your home duct system, and if they have found any leaks or reasons to replace sections of old, inefficient duct.

Look at the supply vents in your home. Do you see gray or light discoloration where the air is blowing out, or a small buildup of dust on the immediate area? If so, that’s a good sign you may have dirty duct in your home that needs to be looked at further. It’s also a tell-tale sign that you don’t change your return air filter often enough.

If you have old ductboard in your home, you should ask your contractor how old it is, and what kind of condition it’s in. Is it breaking down or does it show any signs of mold on it? Ductboard is a hard-surface board type product that has exposed insulation inside the duct. Over time and without proper care of your system, it may become airborne as the air passes through.

Sealing the Duct System

As we pointed out throughout this HVAC article, the unobstructed and clear airflow is very important to our overall system health. Leaks need to be sealed so all the air in your system makes it to your rooms and cools you off efficiently. Duct sealing is another area where your contractor should spend a few hours every season, to re-tape loose connections with the proper foil tape, or use Mastic to reseal around the coil and other important areas of your duct system.

Sealing duct can take several hours if it’s done correctly, but its one of the best ways to make sure all the air is being delivered where it’s supposed to be!

Self Inspection of the Duct System

Don’t be afraid to inspect the duct on your own as well. It’s a very easy thing for you to do by yourself or with the help of a friend or spouse, and as you can see in the video below, it’s not that hard for you to take on, just to get an idea of whether you need to call in a pro or not. In fact, if you have a package unit, or the duct is in a crawl space, you should check it after heavy rain storms or flooding every time!

When Was Your Last Duct inspection?

Tell us about the last time you had a duct inspection and what the contractor found. If you think you might need duct cleaning, get free quotes from contractors in your area!

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