Monday, October 12, 2009

Seal your home’s air ducts to minimize the loss of conditioned air

Did you know leaky duct work often accounts for 10-30 percent of total heating and cooling costs? Did you also know that duct leakage lowers the heating and cooling capacity, and can lessen the life of your HVAC unit?

One of the easiest and least expensive things you can do to weatherize your home is to make sure your duct work is properly insulated and sealed. A visual inspection can often help locate any leaks or tears in your duct work, the supply and return vents, or the air handler that may need repair. You can also look for dirt streaks in your duct insulation. This is a sign that air has been leaking from the ducts.

To minimize the loss of conditioned air, make sure that all of the duct joints are well sealed. If you’re like me, your first thought might be to fix leaky ducts with duct tape. However, this should be avoided since the tape has a very short lifespan, does not seal joints properly and tends to dry out, crack and fall off.

Instead, leaks or tears can be sealed with Mastic, a non-toxic adhesive sealant that is used to permanently seal the joints of duct work. Mastic is a paste-like substance that dries solid and can be found in tubs or gallons at your local hardware store, typically for about $10/gallon.

Also be sure to check for any fallen duct work in your attic or under your home. This can lead to the loss of conditioned air and should be repaired as soon as possible.

If it’s not already part of your spring or fall cleaning routine, set aside time for an annual check of your duct work. It could help identify areas that need some TLC, and help you save on your heating and cooling costs.

For more information about heating and cooling efficiently, visit the EnergyStar Web site.

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