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Duct, Duct, LEAKS!

shutterstock_106953338Air ducts. Most of us know what they are, but typically we only care about them if they stop working, or if we want to get a fancier duct cover and notice the accumulation of grossness when we remove the old one.

In houses with forced-air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. Did you know, though, that in a typical house, about 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts? The inevitable result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.

Some quick ways to determine if your ducts aren’t performing optimally:

  • you have higher summer and winter utility bills
  • you have some rooms that seem warmer or cooler than others
  • you have stuffy rooms that never seem to feel comfortable
  • your ducts are located in an attic, crawlspace, or the garage
  • you find tangled or kinked flexible ducts in your system

Because ducts are usually located in walls, ceiling, attics, and basements, fixing or replacing them can be difficult. But there ARE some things that you can do to improve duct performance in your house.

Some people choose to take on duct sealing as a do-it-yourself project. If you choose to go this route, you can begin by sealing air leaks using mastic sealant or metal tape and insulating all the ducts that you can access (such as those in attics, crawlspaces, unfinished basements, and garages). Avoid the use of duct tape (even though duct for ducts sounds pretty funny), as it is not long-lasting. Also, make sure that the connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling (the common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork).

If all of the above sounds daunting to you, another possibility is that of using a professional contractor. However, make sure that you use a contractor that will do the following:

Look for a contractor that will:

  • Inspect the whole duct system, including attic and crawlspaces.
  • Evaluate the system’s supply and return air balance. Many systems have air return ducts that are too small.
  • Repair damaged and disconnected ducts and straighten out flexible ducts that are tangled or crushed.
  • Seal all leaks and connections with mastic, metal tape, or an aerosol-based sealant.
  • Seal all registers and grills tightly to the ducts.
  • Insulate ducts in unconditioned areas (like attics, crawlspaces, and garages) with duct insulation that carries an R-value (measure of resistance) of 6 or higher.
  • Include a new filter as part of any duct system improvement. The contractor should evaluate air flow after repairs are completed.
  • Ensure there is no back-drafting of gas or oil-burning appliances, and conduct a combustion safety test after ducts are sealed. (source:


If both of the above still seem like more than you’re willing to commit to, consider a third option: calling Smart Energy Solutions and scheduling a FREE home energy assessment. That way you get the best of both worlds: knowing what your home’s energy robbers are, getting a professional recommendation of how to stop them in their tracks, and not having to pay anything for a professional assessment.

Give us a call at 417-612-7092 to start your road to efficiency freedom!

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