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Blog May 11, 2016

How to Inspect Your Ductwork for Efficiency-Draining Leaks


Your home feels cool, so what’s the problem? Well, hopefully nothing.

But, your air conditioner or furnace could be silently running up your electricity bill, and harming the environment, without you even noticing.

Your ductwork may have leaks. Some are obvious because you can see clear cracks in your ductwork. Usually, they appear around the joints.

However, not all leaks, even ones that drain serious electricity and harm your comfort, are that obvious.

Here’s how to check for those less obvious leaks:

1. Buy a Smoke Pencil or Incense Stick

This is almost a foolproof method for finding leaks in your home’s ductwork. Simply turn your heat or air on so it blows air.

Find the ductwork in your basement and attic. Light the smoke pencil or incense stick. Hold it near the ductwork, and especially the joints. You’ll notice the smoke quickly blows away when you find a leak.

By the way, these leaks will be smaller. So, they’ll be very difficult to find should you simply
try to feel them with your hand.

2. What about Leaky Ducts in Your Walls?

This is where things get tricky. If you’re brave and ambitious, you can try to isolate the problem. Many HVAC pros themselves have a difficult time finding those smaller leaks in walls.

Find your air handler. Partition the supply side from the return side with cardboard and masking tape. Simply by using a blower door and pressure pan, you can take a reading at each register. Because your ductwork’s supposed to be a closed system, each register should show a reading of 0.

Bottom Line: Finding Leaks is Really, Really Hard

At the end of the day, you may not be able to isolate those leaks that are deep inside your walls. So, that’s where it makes sense to call a contractor.

But, you can’t call just any HVAC pro because not all are good at isolating ductwork leaks. To find a good one, ask them,”How would you go about isolating a ductwork leak?”

If they shrug their shoulders and say they don’t know, or if they give a vague non-answer, you know they can’t help you.

Look for an HVAC pro with a couple decades of experience. Check their reviews out online, and look for 4 stars or more. Make sure they have an A+ BBB rating.

That makes for a good contractor right there.

By the way, what’s the biggest sign of ductwork leaks? Hot and cold rooms in your home.

Keep that in mind the next time you suspect ductwork leaks, and you’ll be just fine.

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