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Duct Sealing

duct leakageMost everyone knows that high-efficiency furnaces and proper insulation are two major components to an energy efficient home, but all too often the conversation ends here.  Yet if the duct work is not designed and sealed properly, the heat your furnace (or the cooling your a/c unit) generates will not be distributed effectively and you’re wasting energy (maybe as much as 30% or more).  Until recently, the conversation didn’t include duct sealing because there was no effective way to address leakage in existing homes.  Now authorities like the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency are speaking out about the importance of duct sealing in a national effort to reduce energy consumption, our carbon footprint, and our dependency on foreign sources.

Leakage in the supply duct subsystem depletes the air flow intended to heat (or cool) each room in your house.  The further the conditioned air has to travel from the furnace or air-conditioner to reach the room, the more joints, junctions, cracks and holes will be encountered which, if not properly sealed, will rob from the air flow designed to exit through the room’s register.  In our experience, the supply duct subsystem typically leaks 20-35%; estimates by the U.S. Department of Energy are even higher.  Return duct subsystems found in most homes in the Northeast commonly leak 50 to 75%!

Supply ducts leaking in the attic will warm the roof, in the winter, causing any snow at the roof surface to melt then refreeze when it reaches the colder eaves.  The result is a build-up of ice at the eaves in the form of dams and icicles, creating a personal risk from falling icicles and a structural risk as the weight of the ice may bring down the eaves trough and/or cause water to seep beneath the shingles and into the attic.

Leaky return ducts will draw air into the system along with any dust, dirt, and other contaminants that are airborne and in the vicinity.  Imagine where those ducts are – between walls, beneath floors / above ceilings, in the basement or attic.  In addition, if the furnace and much of the leaky return duct work are in an enclosed space such as your basement, return leakage can reduce the pressure in that space and suck flue gases from the furnace and radon gas from the soil surrounding your home. Do you want that air distributed throughout your house? In the Northeast where return duct subsystems commonly utilize floor joists and wall cavities to channel the air flow, leakage can easily amount to 50% (or more) of the furnace blower capacity!

Back in the days when energy costs were an insignificant household expense, new duct work was not typically sealed, so air will leak through every joint, junction, hole and crack in the duct work.  Even in more modern times, ducts were infrequently sealed during new construction until building codes for duct leakage were implemented in 2012.

Common symptoms of duct leakage include:

Even if you notice none of these symptoms, you could be suffering significant energy loss from duct leakage which could be costing you hundreds of dollars a year on your energy bill and causing your furnace and air conditioner to work longer (and wear out sooner).  Contact PMC Energy Services to schedule a consultation with one of our technicians and  start saving right away. Click here to view the most cost effective ways to save energy