Air ConditioningHow to Spot a Leak in your Ducts

August 21, 2017


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Summers mean regular air conditioning use, and prudent homeowners will take steps to ensure their systems are running reliably all summer long. But the unit itself is only one part of the entire air conditioning system, and those other components run into trouble too. The good news is that a qualified air conditioning technician can usually correct issues with all of those components. The bad news is that they can often be more difficult to spot.

Once you get past the air conditioner itself, the ducts remain the most common spot for problems, notably leaks and breaches which can cause issues throughout the entire AC system. Unfortunately, spotting a duct leak or breach can be exceedingly difficult, since ducts are usually placed in out-of-the-way locations like behind your walls or in the attic. You can’t call for repairs until you spot the problem. So how do you do that when the problem is hidden?

What Causes Duct Leaks?

Sometimes, duct leaks can be caused by accidental damage, such as work being performed on other parts of the house, or animals such as raccoons getting into your crawlspaces. But other times, they can be very subtle, often caused by things like worn bolts coming loose. Most of the time, they can be repaired quickly, either by replacing the loose bolts, using fitted parts to seal breaches, or sealant like duct mastic to ensure the hole is closed up tightly

Why Are They a Problem?

Duct leaks and breaches are a problem because they either pull conditioned air out of the system or pull unconditioned air in. These leaks do at least one of three things:

  • They lower the air flow out of your vents.
  • They warm the air traveling through the ducts.
  • They pull dust and dirt into the air supply.

All of these will force your air conditioner to work harder to do its job: elevating both your monthly bills and the strain on the rest of your system. If left unaddressed, they will eventually result in a more serious breakdown elsewhere in the system.

How to Spot Them

Generally speaking, anything you recognize as being outside the realm of the system’s normal functioning should be cause for concern. When it comes to duct leaks, however, there are some specific signs you can learn to spot. In most cases, these signs will start and stop with the starting and the stopping of the air conditioner.

  • Strange Noises. The air can make whistling or humming noises as it passes through the leak sometimes.
  • Cold Spots. When cold air blows out of the leak and onto your wall or floor, it will create a cold spot that you can feel.
  • Lowered Air Flow. As mentioned above, leaks often reduce the flow of air through your system.
  • Warmer Air. If the air isn’t as cool as you’d expect, the leak could be pulling warm air in.
  • Higher Bills. Reduced efficiency means your air conditioner will cost more to run.

For problems with duct leaks here in Shawnee, KS, call MVP Electric, Heating & Cooling.

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