Updating Your HVAC Unit

Repair Or Replace – What Should You Do To Address Ductwork Problems?

The most common issues with home HVAC systems usually relate to the HVAC equipment. You've probably had to pay for repairs on your air conditioner or furnace, but what about your ductwork? If your home is similar to most American homes, you likely use a forced-air heating system combined with central air conditioning. These two systems share the same air distribution ductwork. 

Fortunately, ductwork is far more durable than other parts of your HVAC system. Unfortunately, ductwork is much costlier to repair or replace since it's typically behind walls or ceilings. Still, ductwork can develop leaks or other problems. Knowing what to do in these situations can be tricky, especially since your home's ductwork can greatly impact your HVAC system's efficiency.

How Do You Know If You Have a Ductwork Problem?

Common issues with ductwork include leaks, loose hangers, kinks, physical damage, and more. Since plenty of things can affect your ductwork, ductwork symptoms also tend to be fairly varied. The good news is that a few early warning signs can alert you to an issue with your home's ductwork. Spotting these symptoms can help you determine if your ducts require some attention.

In many cases, ductwork problems will lead to reduced efficiency. Since you'll lose heated or cooled air before it reaches the rooms in your house, you may notice your HVAC equipment running for longer or failing to keep up on particularly hot or cold days. Another common symptom is hot or cold spots; these are areas in your home where the temperature is noticeably different from other rooms.

If you notice these problems, you should have a professional HVAC contractor help you perform further diagnosis. Contractors can perform airflow measurements and pressure testing to ensure adequate flow through your ductwork and check for leaks. Some HVAC companies may use additional equipment (such as thermal imaging cameras) to pinpoint the problem.

What Should You Do About Ductwork Issues?

The best approach to ductwork issues will depend on the extent and severity of the problem. For example, if your contractor discovers that your ductwork is undersized for your home, there may be no option other than replacement. Likewise, a full replacement may be more cost-effective in older homes with original ductwork that's particularly leaky.

On the other hand, you should rarely need to fully replace relatively new ductwork, even if it has some existing issues. Contractors can usually address leaks in exposed ductwork relatively easily. The best course of action for ductwork behind walls will depend on the severity of the problem. You may decide that repairing minor issues is too expensive, but major problems will often require some demolition.

While you probably won't need to repair or otherwise address your ductwork as often as other parts of your HVAC system, you also shouldn't ignore it. An experienced HVAC technician can help you investigate any problems with your ductwork so you can better understand your home's HVAC system and, if necessary, make repairs to improve its efficiency. 

Contact an HVAC contractor to learn more.