HVAC Air Ducts: Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Air Ducts and Ductwork?

Ductwork refers to the network of air ducts by which a central air conditioning or heating system delivers cool or warm air throughout the home. A typical ductwork system involves a main supply duct, called a trunk duct, and several smaller branch ducts that split off and run to the air registers in each room. 

In most homes, the air ducts are made from a combination of aluminum or galvanized steel sheet metal (particularly for the trunk) and flexible insulated plastic ducts for navigating tight spaces and corners. Most residential air ducts have narrow diameters, so they rely on a precise pressure balance to deliver air to every room effectively. Naturally, if any ducts get clogged with debris or spring an air leak, the whole HVAC system’s performance can suffer. So read on to discover how to spot these duct issues quickly and what to do about them!

How Long Does Ductwork Last?

replacementThe HVAC ductwork in most homes will generally last about 10-15 years, although if properly installed and maintained, it’s not uncommon for ductwork to last up to 30 years. The 10 to 15-year mark also coincides with the average lifespan of central AC and heating systems. When it comes time to replace the AC or heater, it may be a good idea to replace the ductwork simultaneously, mainly if the old ducts are falling apart or the new unit requires larger ducts or a different duct layout for maximum efficiency.

To help ensure that their air ducts last as long as possible, homeowners should address issues with their air ducts as soon as they arise. Vibration or the expansion and contraction of the duct walls (due to frequent heat and pressure changes) can cause leaks as seams and couplings come undone. Mold growth or vermin can infest the ductwork. Corrosion can deteriorate the duct walls. However, homeowners can avoid premature air duct replacement by having the ducts inspected, maintained, and repaired regularly!

What Are the Signs of Damaged Ductwork?

If the ductwork is old and falling apart, has been completely contaminated with mold, or is simply too small or outdated for the home’s new HVAC system, it probably makes the most sense to replace it entirely rather than shelling out for repairs. But if individual sections of ductwork are damaged or compromised, air duct repair is probably the best way to go. The trick is to catch the problem quickly before the damage can worsen or homeowners waste precious money on heating or cooling their crawlspace.

A few signs of damaged air ducts include:

  • Weak or no airflow from the vents
  • The house never seems to reach the correct temperature or has inconsistent temperatures throughout different rooms.
  • Howling, whistling, or rattling noises coming from the vents (may indicate a leak or loose section of ductwork)
  • Unusually high energy bills (can indicate that the HVAC unit is working harder than normal to bring the home to the right temperature and may be due to a problem with the ducts)

What Are Some Signs the Air Ducts Need Cleaning?

dirtyDirty air ducts can be almost as bad – and in some ways worse – than damaged ducts. When dust, dirt, pet dander, and other pollutants accumulate inside the ducts, it leads to a higher concentration of these pollutants in the home’s air. Even worse, dirty ducts are more likely to develop mold and bacteria growth. All of this can negatively impact indoor air quality, which can affect the health of everyone in the house. Debris and dust can also get into the HVAC unit, interfere with its components, and even clog smaller sections of ductwork.

Some signs of dirty air ducts include:

  • Dust seems to accumulate faster than usual throughout the home
  • Dust, debris, or mold growth on air registers and vents
  • Unpleasant odors (particularly musty or dusty smells) coming from the vents
  • Weak airflow coming from the vents
  • Respiratory irritation, sneezing, and aggravated allergy symptoms

When homeowners notice these signs, their best bet is to call a professional for air duct cleaning. This typically involves using a combination of special vacuums, brushes, and air compressors to remove dust and debris from the ducts. In some cases, more thorough cleaning may be required to eliminate mold growth. 

About Hall Heating and Air

Hall Heating and Air has over 40 years of experience serving Pampa and the surrounding areas. They offer price estimates upfront, on-time service, and the latest technology. Call them today for air duct services in Pampa, TX.

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