NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Business

November 12, 2013

Keeping your ducts in line

Yes, that’s “ducts,” not “ducks.” Many homes, particularly newer homes, have forced hot air furnaces that use air ducts to distribute heat and conditioned air throughout the house. Only in very recent years have HVAC installers been made to seal air ducts as a building code requirement. As a result, leaky air ducts abound, and homeowners are paying for it. Besides the cost and waste of your heated or conditioned air leaking out of your ducts, comfort and safety issues are also a concern for homeowners because leaky ducts pull unwanted air from basements and attics.

The duct system in an unconditioned attic or basement is part of your home’s thermal boundary. So it should not only be sealed, but insulated as well to energy code standards, which is R-6 in the basement and R-8 in the attic. According to the U.S. EPA, sealing and insulating your ducts can increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by 20 percent to 30 percent. Comfort level can also be noticeably increased by maximizing air flow.

First, with the system turned on, check your ducts for air leaks at the seams where sections are connected; also look for obvious disconnections and holes. Where the duct boot connects to the floor should be sealed also. Any penetrations that go through the attic floor or through the floor to an unconditioned basement should be sealed with foam around the outside of the ducts.

Use only duct insulation that has foil and fiberglass on the inside. This will give you the best thermal boundary possible. Do not use foil-faced bubble-wrap. It will not provide an adequate R-value unless installed with an air-gap between the duct and the wrap, which is very hard to do.

If 100 percent of your ducts are inside the building thermal envelope (in heated and conditioned air space), then you are very lucky and you need only seal them without insulating them. You can have your ducts tested to see if they meet code as new home builders are required to do. Theatrical fog can be used to pinpoint duct leakage problems.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Special Features
Port Pics
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security