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
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites