The ductwork is a system that delivers cool or warm air to different rooms in your house. One end of the ductwork connects to the HVAC system while the other end connects to the registers. It plays an essential role in the health and efficiency of your HVAC unit. Since the ducts serve as the medium to deliver air, once they become defective, you could experience high-energy bills and comfort issues. Usually, the ducts pass behind walls, under the floor, or in crawlspaces, so most homeowners often forget about them until they develop significant problems. While you can repair minor ductwork issues, here are some signs that indicate it’s time to replace the ductwork.
1. If Your Utility Bills Keep Going Up
If your ductwork develops leaks, the heated or cooled air will seep out. Therefore, your unit will need to run longer to maintain the desired temperatures in your house. This results in high-energy use, which translates to a spike in utility bills. Call an HVAC technician to run a blower door test in the ducts to find the leak. If the holes are too small, the technician may seal them, but you may want to consider a ductwork replacement in case of extensive damage.
2. Once You Notice Poor Airflow
For your HVAC unit to function optimally, it requires proper airflow. A balanced airflow means that the amount of air that gets into the unit is equal to the amount that leaves it. The air circulating throughout your house must come back into the system during the heating and cooling cycle. If not, the HVAC system becomes inefficient, and some areas in your home will begin to experience reduced airflow. One of the biggest problems that cause airflow problems is damaged ductwork. If your HVAC system stops pushing air as it used to, you could be dealing with dirty, clogged, or aged ductwork. Call a technician to inspect the ductwork. They may suggest simple modifications like replacing the plenums, grilles, or they might recommend you replace the entire ductwork.
3. If You See Dents and Punctures on the Ductwork
Damaged ducts can prevent your HVAC unit from working optimally. You, therefore, need to check the exposed parts of your ducts for kinks, tangles, rust, dents, punctures, or deteriorating joints that can affect its effectiveness. If a heavy object falls on the exposed parts of the ductwork, it can cause it to twist at an angle that restricts airflow. Streaks of dust around the ducts could also mean damage. If the ducts are in bad shape, consider replacing them to restore your unit’s effectiveness.
4. In Case of Poor Indoor Air Quality
Gaps and holes in the ductwork allow contaminants to enter into the house, lowering the indoor air quality. In such a case, it becomes impossible to get rid of dust in your home. Therefore, if your house surfaces keep getting dusty even after cleaning, you may want to check the ductwork. Holes in the ducts allow entry of dust particles, and any time you turn on your unit, it recirculates them throughout the house.
Besides dust, leaky ductwork allows pollen entry that causes most people to suffer from allergies. If you notice that most of your family members constantly develop respiratory issues, you need to have your ductwork inspected immediately.
Additionally, poorly insulated or connected ducts can cause mold and mildew problems. When you set the unit to cool, leaky ducts may let in warm air. Consequently, the temperature difference causes moisture to condense to create a perfect breeding ground for mold. Every time your HVAC unit kicks on, it circulates mold spores and a musty odor throughout the house. Mold can drastically deteriorate your furniture items and cause adverse health effects as well. The spores can trigger allergic reactions, asthmatic symptoms, and cause eye and nose irritations when inhaled. Although duct cleaning may help, you should replace mold-infested ductwork to avoid reoccurrence.
5. If Your System Operates Nosily
An optimal operating HVAC unit makes a soft humming noise. However, a rattling sound means loose or incorrectly sized ductwork. Whistling sounds signify the presence of a leak in the ducts. Audible vibrations can imply that there is a blockage in the ducts. On the other hand, scratching or buzzing noises indicate pests or rodents in the ductwork. Pay attention to such noises and call a professional to assess the issue. Based on the extent of the damage, a professional may suggest ductwork replacement.
6. If You Experience Uneven Heating and Cooling
If you notice that some parts of your house seem relatively warmer or cooler, this can signify faulty ductwork. When the ducts become defective, your HVAC unit may fail to keep up with your house’s heating or cooling requirements and you may begin to notice some hot and cold spots. Have a technician check the issue, and they can advise you on the best action to take to rectify the problem.
7. Once You Spot Signs of Pests Infestation
Pets can crawl through any tiny holes or unsealed gaps into the ductwork. Rodents may also chew their way into the ductwork or get in through unsealed spaces. These pests can quickly multiply and establish colonies within your ductwork. Some of the most common issues caused by pests in the ductwork are foul odors, weird noises, and the spread of bacteria. If you notice signs of a pest invasion, call a professional to replace the ductwork and to get rid of the pests.
8. If You Have an Old Ductwork
Ducts have a lifespan of ten years. However, they can serve you for up to 15 years. Even if your ductwork seems to operate just fine once it hits 15 years, consider replacing it. Due to natural wear and tear, the joints, seals, and seams begin to deteriorate. Such issue results in poor HVAC performance and experiencing temperature discomfort within your home.
9. When You Install a New HVAC Unit
Once you install a new HVAC unit, you need to replace the ductwork as well. Keep in mind that a new HVAC model may not be compatible with old ductwork. Most likely, the HVAC unit and the ductwork are of the same age, so if you have to replace your unit, you should have the ducts replaced too. Installing a new HVAC unit with old and damaged ductwork will reduce the unit’s efficiency, strain the components, and make it wear out sooner than expected.
Replace Your Inefficient Ductwork Today
The ductwork is an essential part of your HVAC unit that requires routine maintenance and inspections. When you spot any of the above issues, be sure to call a professional. The technician will inspect the ductwork, perform tests, and measure the airflow, pressure, and level of insulation. They can fix minor issues, but for extensive damage, you will need to consider replacing the ducts. New ductwork operates more quietly, delivers consistent air into the house, improves air quality, and prolongs the lifespan of your HVAC unit.
Whenever you need professional assistance with your ductwork, reach out to Woodward Heating. We offer AC, heat pumps, furnaces, and fireplace services in Salem, OR, and nearby areas. Our company also deals with duct cleaning and indoor air quality. Contact us now and schedule an appointment.