Are Your Ducts Damaged?

air-conditioning-ductsCentral air conditioners rely on a series of ducts to take cooled air through your home in the summer. The air is cooled in the AC itself and then blown into the ducts with a fan. That allows the system to circulate the cooled air evenly, ensuring that the entire house is cooled evenly. Ducts are usually protected by their location: behind the walls or in similar spots like the crawlspace in your attic. That can turn around and bite you, however, if your ducts suffer damage.

Ducts can be damaged inadvertently when work is being performed elsewhere in the house, or if animals like squirrels or raccoons get into your crawlspaces. But they can also be damaged simply because the bolts holding different sections of the duct wear out, or similar wear and tear makes itself known. It can be very hard to identify that damage unless you know what to look for.

Why Is It a Problem?

Damaged ducts are a problem because they interfere with your air conditioner’s ability to cool the home, Crimps or divots will lower the flow of air passing through the system. Leaks will either pull conditioned air out or pull unconditioned air in (along with a lot of dust most of the time, since the space around the leak is usually seldom used). All of that can raise the monthly costs of running the air conditioner, as well as increasing the strain on it and raising the chances of a more serious breakdown in the future.

How to Spot It

Damage to your ducts can be difficult to spot, since you rarely see the ducts themselves. You can learn to watch for common symptoms, however. They can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Strange Noises, usually whistles or hums that occur as the air slips out of the breach. In most cases, they will start and stop with the starting and the stopping of the air conditioner.
  • Reduced Airflow coming out of the vents. If the phenomenon affects only one vent, the damage is likely in that section of the ducts. If it affects more than one vent, the problem is likely closer to the air conditioner itself.
  • Lowered Cooling Levels, or air emerging from one of more vents that is warmer than it should be.
  • Cold Spots forming on walls or floors. That’s usually the spot where cool air leaking from the ducts is blowing.
  • Short Cycling, or the air conditioner turning on and off rapidly. This usually occurs in serious cases, when the cool air remains trapped in the system and has begun to affect the AC’s functioning.
  • Higher Bills. The loss of efficiency from the duct leak or crimp means that the air conditioner needs to work harder to do its job: raising your monthly bills in the process.

If you spot these symptoms, don’t attempt to diagnose or correct the problem. Instead, turn off your air conditioner and schedule a repair session immediately.

Here in Portland, OR, quality duct repair services can be performed by the friendly pros at The Clean Air Act.

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