Because they are tucked away out of sight behind walls, under floors, and above ceilings, you probably pay no attention to your air ducts until an obvious problem reminds you of their presence. However, your air ducts play an essential role in circulating warmed or cooled air from your HVAC system around the various areas of your home.
When your air ducts don’t work well, not only will your family members be too hot or too cold, but you’ll receive higher heating or cooling bills. In fact, according to the US Dept. of Energy, inefficient HVAC systems are raising the energy costs of Americans by 10-20% or more.
Air ducts, just like other components of your HVAC system need to be regularly cleaned and maintained. A total cleaning and repair process should include an inspection of the air ducts to check for water damage, leaks, and excess dust and debris.
A good air duct cleaning is a multistep process that should take anywhere from two to five hours. Depending on how much dirt and grime has accumulated in your air ducts, air duct cleaning can improve efficiency by up to 40%.
HVAC Ductwork Costs
If your ductwork needs attention and you have the capability and the necessary equipment, you may be able to repair, clean, replace, or install your own ductwork. If you are not a skilled DIY homeowner, then you will need to find a contractor, but how will you know if you are being provided with a fair estimate? It helps to understand as much as possible about how your HVAC/ductwork system works. Here is some basic information on air ducts.
- Ducts: Most ductwork systems include more than one type. The two most common ones are flex ducts made from plastic and wire and sheet metal ducts constructed from galvanized steel.
- Insulated Ducts: Ductwork up in your attic or in some other space that isn’t heated or cooled needs adequate insulation if it is to work properly.
- Supply and Return Ducts: Supply ducts transport conditioned air throughout your home. Return ducts transport non-conditioned air into the HVAC system.
- Total Effective Length (TEL): This measurement refers to the combined length of every duct and fitting in your home.
- Cubic feet per minute (CFM): Ductwork and blower fans are rated according to how much air they can push. The larger the duct, the higher the CFM rating. If the ducts are the wrong size, warm or cool air will not be distributed evenly throughout your home.
The more informed you are about your entire HVAC system, the better. Having knowledge of the various components associated with your HVAC ductwork installation and how they operate enables you to work with a contractor to develop the best system to suit your needs.
Communication is Key
With proper maintenance of the rest of your HVAC system, air ducts should only need an annual cleaning. Knowing as much as possible about what’s involved with ductwork will enable you to speak knowledgeably with your contractor and ask intelligent questions. This way you can be sure that you’re getting the best air duct maintenance and value for money.
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