Studies covering both new and old homes show that duct leaks account for 20 to 60 percent of all air exchange in homes. When conditioned air escapes through duct leaks, homeowners lose conditioned air and unconditioned air is drawn into the home.
Sophisticated blower door testing can identify homes with leaky ducts and measure the severity of the leaks. Some HVAC contractors offer blower door testing for free or at a nominal price. Most duct leaks are readily identified through close visual inspection of the ductwork and occur within 10 feet of the air handler, the area of the duct system exposed to the highest levels of vibration, pressure, humidity and temperature difference.
Duct leaks can be repaired by using metal foil duct tape or mastic adhesive.
Metal Foil Tape
Duct-cleaning services can cost as much as or more than replacing all the ducts with new. Duct contamination occurs in very rare circumstances and can be a severe health issue. Most contamination can be avoided by regular monthly cleaning or replacement of return air filters, and by annually cleaning and servicing the HVAC system.
For further information on duct cleaning, please read the Environmental Protection Agency’s online publication, “Should you have the air ducts in your home cleaned?” by visiting: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/airduct.html.
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