Your home's ductwork works with your central heating and cooling systems to move air throughout your home, which is in turn either heated or cooled by the system as needed. However, like all parts of your home, over time ductwork can begin to break down, which can lead to a reduced effectiveness of your HVAC systems and increase your energy bills. To ensure that both of your central heating and cooling units continue to work as efficiently as possible, you should take the time to seal your ductwork to prevent air leaks.
Finding the Leak
Finding the places within your ductwork that are leaking can be the hardest part of the job, though in general they tend to be around joints and connections. You can spot the largest and most serious leaks through a simple visual inspection, as they will appear as actual holes in the ductwork, but for small leaks that may not be easily visible, you'll have to turn the system on. When your heating or cooling system is running, pass your hand over the ductwork to locate air flow. This can guide you to the specific areas of your ductwork that are leaking.
Sealing Ductwork Leaks
There are two methods that you can use to seal up leaks in your ductwork. The first, and arguably the easiest, method involves using aluminum foil tape, which is available at most hardware stores if you don't already have it at home, to cover up the leak. This tape is easily applied like regular tape, and can stand up to high heat without losing its adhesiveness or degrading. Avoid using other types of tape, even duct tape, as they will quickly melt or fall apart when exposed to the heat from your central heating system.
The second method is ideal for longer term solutions of small leaks, and makes use of silicone caulk. You can apply silicone caulk out of a squeeze tube, or make use of a caulking gun for larger tubes of caulk – all of which can be found at most hardware stores if you don't have them at home. Again, ensure that you use silicone caulk, as it is able to withstand the heat from your central heating system without breaking down. Simply squeeze a thin bead of caulk onto the area where the leak is coming from, and spread it out with your thumb or a putty knife. It's a good idea to have both your heating and cooling systems turned off while applying the caulk to give it time to dry.
For more information or assistance, contact companies like Phil's Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.