How Dysfunctional Ductwork Hurts Your Wallet and Home

Your ducts might not be on your mind very often, but they can have an effect on both your life and your wallet.

When your ductwork isn’t working properly, it can cause unseen problems. Your air ducts may be increasing your risk of health problems and can cost you money in the long run.

Indoor air quality is crucial to your health. Although it’s not discussed as often as things like green energy, it’s just as important for the environment of your home. Ducts play a major role in your home’s air quality.

When your air ducts leak, they can let dangerous airborne toxins into your home. They can also raise your energy bills, costing you more each month before you realize it.

Read on to learn what’s wrong with leaky ducts – and how to get them fixed.

Leaky Ducts Let Toxins In

When your air ducts leak, they pull toxic fumes and debris in and then spread those airborne toxins and pollutants around your home.

For example, a crawlspace duct might become disconnected, creating a source of a leak. The duct will suck in the air around it, which means dusty, dirty crawlspace air.

Now, let’s say a rat in the crawlspace dies close to the leak in the duct. Now that air duct is not only pulling in dirty air from the crawlspace, but also the fumes from a dead animal.

No matter how good your air filtration system is, at some point, the bad stuff can overwhelm it and get into your home.

You can also have leaks in damp areas like basements, where mold is likely to grow. This means the toxic mold spores get spread throughout your home, where they can cause lung problems and also start growing in new places, such as a bathroom.

If your air filter is damaged or not working properly, that’s another source of a leak that can let toxins through. An air filter can collapse, for example, without you realizing it. Suddenly, the filter is no longer doing its job, but you may be none the wiser.

Leaks Cause Negative Pressure and Poor Humidity Control

Your air ducts pull air through the heating or air conditioning system, where the air is either cooled or heated. The same amount of air that goes into the system is supposed to go back out to the house.

However, if there’s a leak somewhere along the way on the supply side of the system, the air that’s pulled in and conditioned won’t end up where it belongs.

This means that your home will compensate by pulling more air from somewhere else. The unbalanced air supply creates negative pressure, which has to be resolved somehow.

Air from somewhere outside of the duct filtration system is going to get into the house to make up for the missing air. This air might infiltrate from your garage, basement, crawlspace, or some other place adjacent to the house. It probably won’t be clean, filtered air, and so it may disrupt your home’s air quality even further.

Another problem with leaky or damaged ductwork is that your home will lose humidity control.

With excess water in your home, you can run into all kinds of problems. More mold is likely to grow in a damper environment. It’s likely that there are already at least a few mold spores getting into your home, but with humidity control, the conditions that allow them to grow can be avoided.

Backdrafting and Carbon Monoxide

A combustion appliance like a furnace or water heater can start backdrafting into your home thanks to dysfunctional ductwork.

When negative pressure, as mentioned above, occurs due to a leak, the exhaust gases from the combustion appliance won’t be able to escape through the flue like they’re supposed to.

Instead, those fumes will end up in your home. This can lead to higher levels of dangerous carbon monoxide.

There are many different ways that negative pressure can occur and cause problems when your ducts aren’t working properly. Something as simple as closing certain doors in the home can affect the balance of pressure.

For example, let’s say all the bedroom doors in your house are closed. The only air ducts in those are supply vents, while the rest of the house has a central return vent. This means there will be a positive pressure in the bedrooms because the air supply is feeding in but not being allowed to escape.

Meanwhile, the rest of the house with the central return vent will have a negative pressure, since it’s not receiving as much air due to the doors to the supply vents being closed.

Now, let’s say you have combustion appliances near the central return vent area. Fumes that aren’t escaping properly from those appliances will start leaking into the home to fill the negative airspace. This can add invisible toxins to your air without you realizing it.

Duct Leaks Cost You Money

When your air ducts aren’t clean or are leaking, more air needs to be pumped through to heat or cool your home.

This means you end up paying more, because your duct system is working harder than it needs to. When debris gets trapped in your ducts, the system uses more energy to pump the air through. And when there’s a leak, your ducts are working to pump air that isn’t getting to the places it needs to be.

Next Steps: Get Your Ductwork Fixed

There’s no way to know for certain that your ductwork isn’t working right. You may not smell anything different, or see any mold growing, but the problems can still be there.

Don’t trust that your air ducts are going to work properly forever. Regular professional inspection is needed to make sure that your indoor air quality is where it should be.

Luckily, the fix is often simple — an air duct cleaning can go a long way toward fixing the problem. Save your health and money by scheduling a cleaning today.

Ready to schedule a cleaning now? Get in touch with us today. We can get you started on the way to better home air quality.