The air duct in your home’s heating and cooling system is responsible for distributing the air to every room. If there is a leak in the ductwork, it undermines the systems’ ability to provide a comfortable home environment. For this reason, if you notice a problem with your HVAC system, you should do an air leak detection test. Before you contact a technician for HVAC repair In Dundalk, Maryland, you can perform a few quick tests at home to identify any leaks in the ductwork. Below, we look at signs of an air duct leak and what you can do to check air leaks before summer arrives.

What Are Air Ducts?

If you are a new homeowner, you may not be familiar with the air duct system in your house. Air ducts are conduits that receive warm or cool air from your air conditioner or furnace and distribute it to every vent in your house. The air duct system is tightly sealed so that the air has nowhere else to go. It’s also sealed so that the air stays as clean as possible.  There are three main types of ductwork: sheet metal, flex duct, and fiberboard duct. Chances are, your home has either flexible ductwork or fiberboard ductwork. The duct system is typically located in your attic, walls, or crawl space. 

Signs of an Air Duct Leak

You don’t have to be a professional to figure out a problem with your duct system. Here are three telltale signs that your air ducts are leaking air.

1. Higher Energy Bill

If you notice a spike in your energy bill for no apparent reason, your HVAC system is likely running inefficiently. One of the main causes of an inefficient system is an air duct leak. When the air leaks out of the ductwork, the air conditioner or furnace has to work twice as hard to push more air through the system. The result is a higher energy bill.

2. More Dust in the Air

When there is a hole in the ductwork, dusty air can get sucked into the air ducts, out the vents, and into your house. One of the ways that you can tell that there is a leak is that you have to dust more often. You may also notice poor air quality in your home.

3. Inconsistent Temperatures Throughout the House

You may feel a cool temperature in one room and a warmer one in another. No matter how you program the thermostat, you can’t get a consistent comfort level. A leaky duct can cause uneven cooling and heating, which causes cold and hot spots in each room in your home.

How to Check Your Air Ducts for Leaks

If you don’t know whether your air ducts are leaking, you can start by performing these three tests.

1. Visual Inspection

A visual inspection is the easiest way to perform an air leak detection test. Go into your attic, basement, or crawl space and look at the ducts. If visibility is limited, take a headlamp and a magnifying glass. A magnifying glass can help you see small leaks that may not be visible otherwise. You’re looking for two main types of leaks.

1. Puncture or Tears

Although the attic or crawlspace is a safe place for ductwork, tears or puncture are possible. Use your hands to feel for any holes on the backside or underside of the ductwork. Otherwise, carefully look for any damage on the top side of the ductwork. 

2. Loose Connections

The ductwork is pieced together in long sections. Constant air pressure over time can cause the sections to come loose. Or the ductwork may tear at the sections. You’ll notice a gap in the sections where the air is coming out. Note: If you see duct tape or patches anywhere on the ductwork, it signifies that someone has done patchwork on the ducts before. There may be an air leak coming out of the patchwork. If so, you’ll need to call a technician to perform AC repair serviceson the ductwork.

2. Airflow Test

There are not always visible signs of an air duct leak, making it hard to find. However, there are other ways of doing air leak detection. One way you can test the air duct system is to do an airflow test.  The test is simple. Place your hand one inch over the metal and slowly wave it along the ductwork. If you feel air coming from the duct, there may be a tiny hole or loose connection between the duct sections. While it may be tempting to patch the hole using duct tape, a better solution is to get professional patchwork from AC repair services for the duct system. An AC technician can provide a long-lasting solution that saves you money in the long run.

3. Incense Test

If you don’t trust your eyes or hands to do air leak detection, you can always use an incense stick or a smoke pencil to detect airflow out of the ductwork. Using an incense stick is simple and gets you great results. Turn on your air conditioner or furnace before you start the test. Wait about five minutes to let the air fully circulate through the house. Go to the ductwork area and run the incense stick slowly close to the ductwork surface.  If you notice the smoke suddenly shifting and flowing away from the ductwork, the air leak is nearby. You can use your eye or hands to pinpoint the leak. 

HVAC Maintenance Services in Dundalk, Maryland

Are there air leaks in your HVAC system’s ductwork? If so, contact Reliability Home Services. We can perform a comprehensive air leak detection test to identify any leaks in your duct system. To schedule AC repair services in Dundalk, Maryland, fill out the contact form or give us a call.