How to Maintain Your Home’s Duct System
As we all face every growing electric bills, we should be looking for ways in which we can make our homes more energy efficient. One of the most important systems in your home, although it’s hidden beneath your feet and over your head, is your duct system and it may be wasting a lot of your energy dollars. I know that I do not want to crawl around looking at the duct system within my home so I have a choice I either request that my husband does this task for me or I will hire a professional to come in and give me a report. Since my husband is usually too busy to do these chores for me I hire the professional and hand the bill to Ray, since he was too busy to look at the duct work, he can pay the bill.
The duct system, within your home is a branching network of tubes in the walls, floors, and ceilings. From the duct system the air flows from your home’s furnace and central air conditioner to each room. The duct system is usually made of sheet metal, fiberglass, or other materials. In many of the older homes and in some of the newer homes the duct systems are poorly insulated or not insulated at all. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills. I prefer to save those hundreds of dollars by taking the time and upfront money to assure that the ducts are properly insulated.
If you have an older home and are considering upgrading to a newer duct system, I would suggest that you consider one that comes with insulation already installed. By having a duck system that has the insulation already there it will save you money in the long run. If your home has unconditioned areas, such as attics or vented crawl systems you may be losing hundreds of dollars by having the duct system un-insulated. Have your hubby or the professional that you hire assure that the supply ducts are not leaking. If there are unsealed joints unconditioned air can be drawn into the return ducts which in the summer can increase the load on the air conditioner and in the winter cause your furnace to work longer to keep your house comfortable. Both of these acts cost you money that can be spent elsewhere.
Many people will find this to be a task that is above their abilities, one which would be handled better by a professional, however if you are a do it yourselfer you can check your ducts for air leaks. Even if you hire a professional to do the work for you, you should know what to ask for and what to look at before you pay the bill. Shoddy work will not do you any good when it comes time to pay your gas and electric bill.
Either way, if you choose to do it yourself or hire someone, look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes. Do a walk through with your professional, and have them diagram and point out the areas that need to be addressed. Do not go on faith alone, it is better that you are aware of the problems and know which ones need to be addressed.
If you are repairing yourself, use tape to seal your ducts, avoid cloth-backed, rubber adhesive duct tape, which tends to fail quickly. Try mastic, butyl tape, foil tape, or other heat approved tapes, talk to someone at your local hardware store they may be able to direct you to the proper type of sealant for the duct work. Insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder. If both the ducts and the basement walls are uninsulated, consider insulating both. If your basement has been converted to a living area, hire a professional to install both supply and return registers in the basement rooms. My main goal is to save as much as I possibly can.