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Ductwork Maintenance: Cleaning, Duct Repair, and Replacement

When you think of an HVAC system, more often than not you focus on the main components such as the furnace or air conditioning unit. It is important to understand that for an HVAC system to work efficiently, it is a network of interrelated and equally important components. One of the components of an HVAC system is ductwork. Your HVAC system’s ductwork consist of a conduit of passageways for deliver or remove air into and out of the HVAC unit. Ducts are commonly constructed using the following materials.

• Galvanized steel
• Aluminum
• Fiberglass duct board
• Fabric ducting
• Flexible ducting
• Polyurethane and phenolic insulation
• PVC low profile ducting

In addition to the ducts, there are other components that make up an entire ductwork system which are the following:

• Duct transitions. Ductwork needs effective connections according to the shape and size of your home. Ducts don’t come in specific shapes to fit the needs of a home. Therefore, these need to be cut according to size and connected using trunks and transitions. Some examples of duct connections include take offs, turning vanes, and cleats. This interconnected system of ducts and transitions create a pathway to circulate treated air inside your home.

• Plenum. This is a large storage box for air going in and out of the HVAC system. There are two plenums within the ductwork, the supply and return plenum. The supply plenum stores cool or warm air from the HVAC system which it distributes through the ductwork. Indoor air that needs treatment gets pushed into the ductwork return plenum. Depending on how your HVAC system works, the air trapped inside the return plenum gets pushed outside through the flue or filtered back into the HVAC system to be heated or cooled.

• Flue. Flues act as the exhaust which funnels air outside the home. The flue is often situated near the HVAC system where harmful gases are produced.

Along with these parts, your home HVAC systems ductwork function hand in hand with the heating and cooling components of your HVAC system.

The basics or air duct cleaning

Even if your HVAC system is working properly, efficiency and poor quality may result from not maintaining your home’s ductwork. Part of your HVAC systems routine maintenance includes making sure that your ductwork is clean and free from any signs of damage. If you don’t properly maintain your HVAC system’s ductwork, you may need ductwork replace or costly replacements. When should you clean your air ducts?

A number of factors can add to dirt build-up inside your home’s ductwork. Contaminants and other particulates enter supply vents and settle inside the ducts. When there is excess moisture, it can lead to growth of mold and mildew. You’ll be surprised at the amount of dirt and debris that accumulate in your air ducts after an entire season of using your HVAC system. If you don’t clean your air ducts on a regular basis, your family may suffer from allergies and respiratory problems. To know when it is time to clean your air ducts, you should watch out for the following signs.

• Visible mold or mildew growing anywhere within the ductwork or in any part of the HVAC system.
• If you notice debris left by animals such as droppings, nests, fur, and decaying body parts.
• When air flow is affected by blockage in the ductwork.

When you keep your ductwork well-maintained and clean, you can expect to enjoy these benefits:

• Improved air quality free from contaminants that cause allergies and other respiratory problems.
• Improved HVAC system performance which help in reducing the energy consumption of the heating or cooling unit. You will also notice increased air flow.
• You can prevent extensive ductwork repair when small problems are spotted and fixed right away.

There are instances when the contractor may suggest using a chemical solution to kill bacteria, fungi, and other contaminants. Before agreeing to have the contractor use the chemical solution, inquire for possible side effects first.

Signs you need to consider professional air duct repair

Without proper maintenance and routine checks, it is easy to miss out of issues with your ductwork which may require repairs. Unfortunately, any damage or problems with your air ducts which are left unattended can lead to serious problems. To determine when it is time for air duct repair, here are some warning signs:

• Inconsistent temperature spots. Air duct repair is vital when you start experiencing inconsistent temperature such as cold and hot spots in different areas inside the home. If there are holes and tears in your air ducts, treated air will not efficiently reach the rooms and escape though these tears. Another consequence of damaged air ducts is the reduced efficiency of your HVAC system.

• Strange or weird noises coming from the air ducts. Air flowing through the air ducts can cause the ductwork to contract and expand. This expansion and contraction can cause the ductwork to produce occasional popping sounds which is normal. However, if you start hearing unusual noises such as rattling, it is possible there is significant damage which need air duct repair.

• Your utility bills are increasing. Your HVAC system will struggle to reach its peak efficiency if there are tears or holes in the ductwork. When this happens, your heating or cooling unit will also use more energy than usual. As your HVAC systems uses more energy, you are also paying more on your utility bills. When you start noticing that your bills are higher than usual, have a professional technical check the air ducts for damage and other issues.

When air duct repair is sufficient, you won’t have to consider replacement. However, there are some instances when air duct repair is not enough to resolve the issue.

When to consider air duct replacement

Air duct repair is a plausible solution for small issues with your ductwork, but when is it time to call your HVAC technician for a replacement?

• The age of your ductwork. An average ductwork lasts around 10 to 15 years before major signs of wear and tear start to show. If your ductwork have not undergone any repairs or replacements within the last decade, have your technician check the system and advice you about replacement.

• When you are getting a new furnace or air conditioner, some parts of your ductwork may require adjustments or replacement. New models that are not compatible with an older ductwork will result in inefficiency.

• If you really want to know if your need air duct repair or replacement, schedule a duct blower test with your HVAC company. The purpose of this test the amount of air leaking through the ductwork. This test should provide conclusive evidence whether it is already time to replace your air ducts.

Before you choose an HVAC contractor to schedule a cleaning, repair, or replacement, take note of the following tips in finding a reliable contractor to handle the necessary work.

• If you are already working with an HVAC contractor, you can inquire whether they also have expertise in handling air duct repair, cleaning, and replacement. By bundling several services with one contractor, it is possible to get a packaged deal and save money.

• Always look for licensing, technician professional qualifications, and references from your friends and relatives when looking for an HVAC contractor.

• Try to educate yourself about industry standards in ductwork and HVAC maintenance. By familiarizing yourself with these standards, you will know which organizations are responsible for regulating how contractors practice their trade.

• Before letting a contractor clean, repair, or replace your ductwork, you should ask questions and understand the processes involved.

• Don’t forget to get a written quote and contract containing the terms and agreements agreed upon. Each party should be clear on expectations especially when it comes to the time line for completing the job as well as the payment terms.

Remember that your HVAC system also depends on efficient ductwork to ensure proper working condition. When scheduling a routine HVAC maintenance check, always include an extensive assessment of your air ducts to prevent serious problems.

If you need to have your air ducts checked before the upcoming winter season, contract our professional technicians at Fischer Heating for expert assistance and quality service.

Image Copyright: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo



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