Homeowners usually have a general idea about how a heating and cooling system works. Setting the thermostat sends the furnace or air conditioner into action. Cool air then escapes vents to enter the home. Between the vents and the HVAC system are ducts. Ducts serve as the passageway for the heated or cooled air. Positioned outside the homeowner’s watchful eye, ducts become somewhat underappreciated. Ironically, they may escape blame when things don’t operate perfectly. After all, people don’t see the ducts, so these components might not immediately come to mind if something goes wrong.
And things could go wrong, such as the components becoming loose. Loose ducts may not seem like a serious problem to those unfamiliar with HVAC work. However, significant problems might develop when things go awry. Let’s take a look at what may happen if ducts become loose.
How Ducts Loosen
Perhaps the home is located near a busy street or train tracks, and the resulting vibrations “rattle” the home causing the ducts to loosen. The connection points in the ducts may begin to separate.
A less out-of-the-ordinary reason for loosened ducts would be age. Ducts connect at seal points, and the seals could break apart when the adhesives start to fail. A furnace could last 20 years or more and work fine, but that doesn’t mean the system never experiences any problems. Parts inside the furnace require repairs and maintenance. Why wouldn’t the ducts or vents need the same? If the seals come loose from age, the issue should not prove unexpected.
And then other unforeseen troubles might arise. Maybe the home requires repairs on the roof, or the homeowner decides to build an addition. Doing so might cause movements that loosen the ducts.
Did you know that pests could cause damage to the ducts? There could be an infestation in the ducts that goes unnoticed. The damage caused by rodents and other creatures might not prove evident, but the problem exists. That is why you should schedule an inspection of your ducts every few years.
Regardless of why the ducts loosen, problems may arise. Let’s take a look at the common problems loose ducts cause.
Energy Bills Start to Climb
Over time, you may notice that your heating and cooling bills go up. Perhaps you used the furnace less this year than last, and yet the costs of heating the home went up. If so, something might be wrong, and locating the problem should become a top priority. Turning to the furnace or AC to look for internal part troubles, a dirty filter and other necessary inspection steps might be the first thing you do. If the problem isn’t in the furnace or AC, the issue could be with the ducts.
Hot air escaping through the ducts creates trouble between the thermostat and the furnace. If you want the interior to be 65 degrees and air escapes, the furnace pumps more air over an extended period of time to make up for the losses. Heating and cooling bills will reflect this extra work the system has to do. Expect similar results with the air conditioner when summer arrives.
It bears mentioning that problems could exist in both the furnace and the ducts. Take that as motivation to request a thorough inspection when bills seem oddly high.
The Unit Doesn’t Do Its Job Well
The HVAC system might run fine and make no odd sounds or emit weird odors. The system doesn’t cycle on and off or visibly reveal problems. So, why is the house uncomfortably hot or cold? Maybe the problem rests inside the ducts. When the ducts come loose, air escapes through the holes and imperfections. Heated air cannot efficiently circulate through the home when some of it escapes.
Even when the furnace or air conditioner works harder to raise temperatures to the thermostat’s settings, there’s only so much the HVAC system can do to compensate for loose ducts and related leaks.
Annoying Noises Become Difficult to Ignore
Although you may not see the problem with loose ducts, the issue could make itself known through sound. Unfortunately, the “average homeowner” isn’t an HVAC specialist, so the sounds might end up being dismissed as different problems. Thinking the house is settling or the noise is coming from pipes expanding and contracting due to seasonal temperature changes could be incorrect guesses. Such mistaken assumptions may lead to a persistent duct issue.
What type of sounds may indicate a loose duct? There are a few, with the least surprising being “wheezing,” which might hint at escaping air. Other unwanted and annoying sounds could rattle through the walls or under the house – literally. Vibrating and rattling may result from the loose ducts trying to provide a tunnel for hot or cold air.
The overall different types of noises may vary. Even if the problem turns out to be something unrelated to the ducts, the issue likely requires a fix. Allowing problems to exist could worsen things over time.
Fixing issues with your ductwork increases the efficiency of your HVAC system, which translates to reduced energy expenses and greater comfort in the home. Some improvements should appear right away, such as even heating or cooling.
The Value of Duct Cleaning and Inspections
Performing routine cleanings and inspections on the HVAC system should also include work on the ducts. After all, they are part of the system and require care and attention, too. An HVAC technician can check the ducts for any problems. If the seals are loose or holes appear elsewhere, the next steps may involve repairing things. Homeowners may never know the extent of the problems until a professional takes a look. So, why not make duct inspections an annual service?
Even when the ducts appear to be in good shape, a thorough cleaning might yield improvements. Why allow dirt, dander, dust and other debris to circulate through the system? Experience, specialized training and the right tools allow our technicians to get the ducts in good shape.
Indoor air quality issues may extend beyond concerns with the ducts as well. How about getting the air quality tested and otherwise addressed? Doing so without any delays might be a smart strategy before the season changes, although you can do so any time of the year.
Repairs and Other Issues
Outright defects and damage may exist in the ducts due to previously performed poor-quality work. Allowing those defects to continue won’t help the cause of keeping a home warm or driving energy costs down.
Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating stands by waiting to assist San Antonio and nearby residents with all their heating and cooling repair, installation, maintenance and ductwork needs. You can count on us for ductless and VRF systems, new construction and custom remodeling air conditioning solutions and indoor air quality services. We are a family-run business that puts customer service as a top priority. Contact our front desk right away for assistance.