Leaky DuctsNo home can be expected to function without a reliable furnace or air conditioner. But even the most well-built systems can’t manage if your ducts aren’t working properly. Holes, cracks, and broken seams keep air from circulating through your house, making it impossible to maintain a comfortable environment.

Leaky air ducts can even affect your health. They can pull in dangerous fumes (e.g. car exhaust, pesticides) and distribute them throughout your home. Old duct systems are more prone to leaks than new ones, but every homeowner should be aware of them. Look for these telltale signs.

High Energy Costs

One of the most obvious signs is that your central air system isn’t functioning properly. Leaky ducts force your furnace and air conditioner to run longer in order to compensate. If you notice your utility bills rising sharply, even though you haven’t adjusted the settings on your thermostat, it might be time to check your ducts.

Difficulty Heating & Cooling Your Home

How long does it take to adjust the temperature in your home? Ten minutes? Twenty minutes? Any longer and you’ve got a problem. It could be your furnace or air conditioner isn’t sized properly. Or it could be your ducts have sprung a leak.

Irregular Temperatures

Uneven air circulation is a common sign of leaky ducts. Some rooms never seem to get warm or cool no matter how long you run the furnace or air conditioner. Leaks can also create warm or cold pockets of air within a room. If temperatures vary significantly between rooms or within a single room, your ducts are likely to blame.

Excessive Dust

Furnaces and air conditioners are normally placed in out of the way places (basements, attics, etc.) that are rarely dusted. Generally, this isn’t a problem. Central air systems are designed to filter dust. But if there’s a leak, dust can get sucked into your ducts, bypassing the filters, and distributed around your home. If your furniture is constantly coated in dust, no matter how often you clean it, your ducts might be the cause.

Frequent & Unexpected Repairs

Leaky air ducts are inefficient, which places a larger burden on your heating and cooling systems. This in turn shortens the life of your furnace and air conditioner, leading to more breakdowns and repairs. The next time you call your HVAC specialist, ask him to take a look at your ducts. They might be the real problem.