If you read the post headline and thought, “Of course I don’t pay to heat and cool my attic! Hardly anybody goes up there during the year, so why would I have it heated or air conditioned?” It’s true that, unless you’ve converted the attic into a living space of some kind, there’s no reason to have vents from the AC and heater opening into it. And when you consider how incredibly hotan attic gets here during much of our warm-to-roasting year, it would take an immense amount of air conditioning power to cool it down.
However, we’re not talking about intentionally heating or cooling the attic. You may be accidentally doing it, and wasting money.
How does this happen?
It’s simple: leaks in the ductwork. Most homes are designed to maximize space with the ducts, so they are routed through areas like the attic to reach the rooms. A good portion of the ducts serving the rooms in your house are probably up in the attic. And ductwork can develops air leaks. If that happens, your HVAC system will allow heated or cooled air out into the attic, where it goes to waste. The heater or air conditioner will need to put in additional work to make up for the lost air, and that results in higher bills.
How bad can this get? According to studies by the U.S. ENERGY STAR program, up to 30% of the air moving through ductwork can be lost to these leaks. So during a hot summer day, 30% of the air you pay to cool might be going straight into the attic!
Are duct leaks a common problem?
Unfortunately, yes. Ductwork, whether metal, flexible plastic, or ductboard, can start to lose air for a variety of reasons. Many ducts were poorly installed in the first place, which creates higher pressure inside them that leads to holes springing open. Blocked or closed vents around the house also increase pressure, leading to the same problem. Corrosion, vermin, and construction damage are also common culprits. And then there’s plain old decay due to aging. If you’ve lived in your house for five years or more, there’s a good chance you have leaks somewhere in the ventilation system.
What can I do about leaky ducts?
The first step is to have the ducts tested professionally. You might already have an idea you’re losing air from the ventilation system because of rises in your energy bills or strange odors from the vents. But you may also want it done because five or more years have passed since they were last inspected. Professionals seal off the ventilation system and change the pressure inside it, then monitor the speed at which the pressure drops. This tells them if the ducts are leaking and how badly.
If the professionals find out the ducts are leaky, they can take care of the problem with duct sealing. Mastic and special metallic tapes seal up the damaged area to make the ductwork airtight once more.
To get started with improving your home’s ventilation system, schedule duct testing in Palm Desert, CA and we’ll find out if you need sealing services.
Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning serves the Inland Empire and the Desert Communities. We are open 24 hours!