HVAC: If you’re like most homeowners, you probably spend as little time in your attic as possible. You’re also unlikely to regularly inspect your ductwork. Unfortunately, ducts that are left to fall into disrepair can have major consequences to your wallet, your health and your HVAC system.
During peak cooling months, running your HVAC system can account for roughly 25% of the average home’s monthly energy bill. This means that any issue with your HVAC system can significantly increase what it costs to keep your family comfortable when the mercury soars. Leaking ducts in your attic may not seem like a big deal on the surface, but they can have far-reaching financial consequences.
Once your air conditioner cools and conditions the air, it pushes it through the ducts that lead to the vents in each room of the house. When a duct is leaking, much of the air you’ve already paid to cool will escape into the attic and eventually outside. Since your system is now delivering less conditioned air into your home, it must work harder to cool more air to push through the ducts, some of which will again leak into the attic. In essence, it will now cost exponentially more to cool your home to the same temperature it cooled to prior to the leak.
As if the financial aspect of leaking ducts wasn’t bad enough, there’s also a health component to consider. When the cold air inside the duct leaks out into the warmer air of the attic (and vice versa), condensation forms. Over time, this increase in moisture can lead to the formation of mold. As long as the tear in the ductwork is unknown and unrepaired, mold spores are free to enter the ducts and circulate throughout your house.
And that’s not all.
In addition to the mold and moisture that can enter your ducts, any pollutant found in the attic’s air is also free to enter the HVAC system. Even if no one in your family suffers from allergies, asthma or respiratory ailments, this assault on your indoor air quality still has the ability to make your family sick. When you consider that the typical air conditioner will recirculate air five to seven times throughout your home, that can represent a significant amount of pollutants entering the air you breathe while you sleep.
The financial dangers involved with HVAC duct leaks don’t stop with your monthly energy bill. Since your air conditioner now must work exponentially harder to keep your home comfortable, the various components will now wear out faster than they would in a system with intact ducts. Depending on how long the system must function in sub-optimal conditions, the more likely it is to need total replacement years sooner than the equipment would otherwise last.
Considering that a system change-out can cost several thousand dollars, it’s ultimately in your best interest to have a qualified professional perform regular maintenance on your HVAC system – including an inspection of your ductwork.