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How Can I Tell If My Air Ducts Are Leaking?

2015 Feb 17
Posted in: Air Quality

You could be losing up to $200 a year due to air duct leaks, according to APS and SRP.

So it’s no wonder that duct leaks are called “one of the top three energy wasters in most homes,” by Green Building Advisor.

But how do you know if your air ducts are leaking? (Spoilers: Most homes have leaky air ducts).

Look for these 3 typical symptoms of leaky air ducts.

Sign 1) High winter and summer utility bills

Ever open up an electric bill and think, “There’s no WAY we spent this much electricity on heating/cooling!”?

Well, air duct leakage may be to blame.
 
Air duct leakage wastes money in two ways:

  • Allows conditioned air to leak out of supply ducts (ducts that carry air into conditioned rooms)
  • Allows unconditioned air to leak into return ducts (ducts that suck in air from your home)

These duct leaks force your AC or furnace to work harder and longer to get your home to the right temperature.

Sign 2) Some rooms are difficult to heat or cool

Imagine trying to carry water in a holey bucket. By the time you get to your destination, you won’t have much water left, will you?

Same thing applies to air duct leaks. If you’re losing conditioned air through duct leaks in the attic, you won’t get enough warm or cool air to keep you comfortable.

So if you feel weak airflow coming out one of your vents, there’s probably a duct leak involved.

Sign 3) Poor indoor air quality

Leaky ductwork is an asthma and allergy sufferers worst nightmare because it can cause these issues:

High humidity and mold growth

Imagine that air duct leaks in your attic or crawl space are pulling in humid, dirty air. That extra humidity cannot only leave you uncomfortable, but can possibly promote mold growth in your home because mold needs water (alongside spores, food and the right temperatures) to grow. 

Noticeable amounts of dust in your home—even after you clean

Duct leaks in unconditioned areas (attics, crawl spaces) pull in tons of dust and distribute it into your home. No amount of dusting will keep your home clean; your HVAC system will just keep blowing out dust every time it turns on.

Backdrafting

When your return ducts leak air, it depressurizes your home, meaning that your home starts pulling in outdoor air—sometimes through your chimney and flue pipes.

This brings harmful combustion gases (like poisonous carbon monoxide) into your home.

Learn more about backdrafting from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The solution: Test, then seal or repair

Did any of the above signs hit home? You may have severe duct leakage.

Find a contractor with the right tools and diagnostic skills to detect duct leakages and seal or repair them.

If you live in the Phoenix metro area, contact George Brazil for an air duct leakage test