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Damaged Ducts Can Mean High Cooling Bills

corrugated-ductworkHave you ever received a monthly utility bill and reeled back in shock? “Who—who was using this much electricity?” you wonder. Your mind flashes back, trying to determine if somebody left all the lights on in the house for a few days, or if you were entertaining too many visitors over too many days. But nothing stands out. It’s been status quo over the last month as far as lights, appliances, and the air conditioner are concerned.

Here’s one possible culprit, the thief who’s stealing energy from your home: leaky air ducts. Your air conditioning system may be exerting much more power to provide cooling to your home because of those damaged ducts. It’s often hard to detect at first that this is happening, but when damaged ducts take a toll, it can be steep!

What is happening inside the ventilation system

For ducts to work the way they’re supposed to, they must remain airtight along their length from where they exit the HVAC cabinet to where they connect to vent registers. This tight seal is necessary to maintain air pressure inside the ventilation system. If the ducts have gaps, breaks, or holes along them, not only will air pressure drop—lowering the airflow from the vents—but cooled air will escape out those holes.

Where does that cooled air go? To places that definitely don’t need to be cooled down: the attic, between walls, between floors. And the amount of energy this creates is significant. Consider that you’re basically paying money to air condition the attic! According to the U.S. ENERGY STAR program, duct leaks can account for up to 30% of the air in the ventilation system escaping. That means paying almost a third more than you should to cool down your home.

Why you have leaks in the ducts

If you haven’t given much consideration to leaking and damaged ducts, we understand. You can’t see most of the ductwork, making it easy to push out of your mind. The majority of ducts in a home aren’t the sturdy metal kind you see in commercial buildings, but made from plastic or a type of insulated cardboard called ductboard. Both can easily suffer from tears and leaks, especially those in the attic. Construction, insects and other pests, humidity, and too much air pressure can all contribute to the ducts suffering damage.

Duct repair from professionals

If you’re dealing with abnormally high utility bills this summer, we recommend calling our HVAC specialists. We can determine if you have ductwork issues that we can correct with duct repair services. And, yes, you do need experienced professionals for this job. Locating all the damage requires specialized tools, as do repairs. Store-bought duct tape isn’t going to be able to handle this. (In fact, duct tape is worthless when it comes to ducts.)

We’ll see that you have a repaired and airtight ventilation system. Not only will you see a dramatic improvement in your monthly utility bills, but your home will enjoy cooler, even temperatures and improved humidity control.

Seal your ducts with the pros: Wm. Henderson Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Inc. serves Delaware County and The Main Line, PA.

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