The Importance Of HVAC Duct Cleaning, Repair & Attic Efficiency

02/27/2024 | By Pamela Vargas-Touchard |

the importance of hvac duct cleaning repair attic efficiency

Home energy efficiency largely depends on the quality of critical home systems: roof, attic, HVAC, and the home’s envelope. Any issues in one of these systems have a notable effect on home comfort, energy efficiency, and indoor air quality.

HVAC ducts are an integral part of the home’s HVAC system. However, because most ducts are installed in attic spaces, professional attic experts and insulation contractors make it a point to assess duct status during our inspections.

5 Reasons To Repair, Replace, Or Clean Air Ducts

We inform clients if we see evidence that duct repairs or cleaning are in order. Addressing these issues saves them money on utility spending and improves consistent temperatures and air quality in the interior living space.

Some of the signs you may need ductwork repair include:

  • A home that is 20 years old or more.
  • Not having an attic inspection in the past five years or so (or any visits from insulation contractors or HVAC technicians).
  • Inconsistent temperatures inside the home.
  • Higher-than-normal energy use or spending.
  • Strange odors circulating through the forced air system (mold/mildew, rodent waste, etc.)
  • Attic insulation particles in your HVAC vents.
  • A whistling or strange hollow sound when the HVAC is on.

Here are some of the reasons air duct repairs are so important.

They may be completely outdated

If your home is under 15 years old, your HVAC system and duct design were created using Manuals J (HVAC unit) and Manual D (Duct design). These are now software-based, using a variety of factors to install the most efficient equipment for the job.

Factors considered by manuals J and D include things like:

  • Home square footage.
  • Regional climate.
  • Appliances.
  • Orientation of the lot and house structure.
  • Implementation of passive solar design features.
  • Lighting sources.
  • Ventilation system(s).
  • And more.

The goal here is to install the smallest unit that can do the job and the most efficient duct design to mediate energy loss while optimizing heating/cooling comfort.

If your home is 20 years old or older, the HVAC contractor probably used “rule of thumb” design strategies, which only evaluate home square footage and general room dimensions. In that case, poorly maintained ducts are inefficiently designed, improperly insulated, and in need of some type of repair - if not replacement.

Inconsistent temperatures in the home

Does your home have some rooms that are hotter while others are cooler? Inconsistent interior temperatures mean something isn’t working as it should. This could mean that you have insufficient attic insulation or that your home needs a zoned HVAC system. However, it could be a case of malfunctioning air ducts. 

If the ducts have separated, corroded, cracked, or damaged by attic activity, air escapes, impacting the temperature and flow. When this happens, it compromises whole-home comfort. If your house doesn’t maintain consistent temperatures from room to room or your HVAC is cycling on/off more than normal, it’s time to investigate. Schedule an attic inspection or a visit with your HVAC technician to learn more about the cause.

You’re losing energy (along with heating/cooling)

Similarly, air ducts requiring repair are losing energy along with your conditioned air. Now, in addition to having issues with whole-home comfort, you also waste energy. You’ll notice a difference in your energy bills, particularly during peak hot/cold seasons. While an attic inspection can reveal issues with insulation and air sealing, we can’t tell you about issues with exterior walls, whole-home ventilation systems, or other structural issues. 

The Bay Area Regional Energy Network offers significant rebates for affordable home inspections dedicated to assessing your home’s energy score (HES). Once a certified HES inspector finishes their walk-thru of your home, they’ll give you a list of recommended repairs and replacements in order of their importance. Scheduling an HES inspection pays for itself once you complete the necessary repairs/replacements - many of which come with rebates and tax credits.

Indoor air quality is suffering

The EPA is clear that while most of us worry about outdoor air pollution, the air in our own homes is far more dangerous. Things like whole-home ventilation/filtration systems and regular filter changes help to keep your indoor air clean. 

However, any openings, separations, or breaks in the ductwork allow tainted or polluted air into the forced air system, becoming part of the air you breathe indoors. Routine duct maintenance and air duct cleaning protect indoor air quality by reducing the amounts of allergens and particulates circulating around your home (and respiratory systems). While ducts don’t need to be cleaned as often as your HVAC company may recommend, they should always be cleaned after any duct repairs or the removal of mold/mildew or pest infestations.

Prevent rodent waste and debris from circulating through the home

Preventing the spread of rodents and their toxic “debris” is another important reason for duct inspection and repair. If there are gaps, disconnections, or holes in the ductwork, they allow rodents and other pests direct access to your home’s interior. Rodents love ducts because they are cozy and warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and always free of predators. 

However, rodents in the ducts mean rodent fir, pests, dander, urine, and fecal matter particulates are swirling around in your air supply. Eradicating existing rodents and other pests, repairing the ducts, and sanitizing the attic and duct system is a significant move in a healthier direction.

Schedule An Attic and Duct Inspection With Attic Solutions

Have a feeling your ducts are long overdue for some repair work? Schedule an attic inspection with Attic Solutions. Once the inspection is complete, we’ll let you know where things stand and the steps to getting your attic back into shape. We provide a range of attic services, including insulation replacement/amendment, duct repair and insulation, rodent control, attic cleanups/sanitizing, and more.

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