Cooling the Great Outdoors: Losing Cold Air and Precious Energy Dollars from HVAC Ductwork

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Due to the extreme desert heat and prolonged Arizona summers, Phoenix homeowners enjoy a love/hate relationship with their air conditioning systems. They absolutely love the cool air and hate the soaring summertime electric bills. A tremendous focus is put on choosing an energy efficient air conditioner with a high SEER rating and making sure the unit is maintained properly. Thermostats are programmed with scientific precision to lower the temperature inside the house without drastically increasing the utility bills. However, when it comes to saving money, did you know faulty or improper HVAC ductwork can routinely waste as much as 30 percent of your air-conditioned cold air by allowing it to escape into the attic, dead space or the great outdoors. Increasing utility bills often tell the story of inefficient ductwork.

Air Conditioning Ducts – Air Tight and Outa Sight

When it was originally installed, your duct system was designed to be utterly and completely airtight. In a perfect world, 100 percent of the cold air generated by your air conditioner would be delivered to the rooms in your home. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Because ducts and vents are hidden in the attic, behind walls and under the floor boards, it’s very difficult to discern if all your ducts are fully functioning There are a variety of reasons for leaks that result in losing cold air as it travels through your system of ducts, including:

  • Expansion and Contraction/Joint Leaks – Ducts and vents exist in a world of extremes – hot and cold. They are constantly expanding and contracting with the changing temperatures. In the summer, with a roof mounted AC unit, a typical Arizona attic or crawl space can reach temperatures above 140 degrees. Yet the ducts are carrying 70-degree cold air to the rooms below. This can place a strain on the connecting points and result in one of the more common forms of air loss through joint leaks.
  • Improper Original Installation – They say undertakers bury their mistakes. AC air duct installers often hide their blunders behind walls or insulation. A common installation problem often found during HVAC inspections are bent, loose or crushed ducts with resulting gaps that cause cold air leaks. As tradesmen go about building a house, they are often working on top of each other and it is not uncommon for mishaps to occur and for ducts to be damaged in the process of construction. The unfortunate fact is many of these ductwork mistakes can go undetected for decades.
  • Foundation Settling – Depending on the age of your home, the area upon which it was built and the soil compaction underneath your house, slab movement will occur. As the foundation settles, walls may crack, doorways can bend, and ducts can be knocked out of line, which will cause loss of cold air.
  • Home Remodeling – The process of room additions, adding a new wing or building a master suite can negatively impact the duct system in your home. It is almost guaranteed that your HVAC duct system will need to be checked and reset by an experienced AC service tech.
  • Aging Structures – How old is your home? As your home ages, there are certain repair jobs that need to be done. Home painting, replacing the roof, sewer and drain clean outs – even replacing your air conditioner all generally take place within a ten to fifteen-year cycle. However, air ducts are the invisible corridors of cool air that are often neglected for decades.

Get Your “Ducts in a Row”

If you’ve noticed a drop off in air pressure coming from your AC ducts, it might be time to schedule an HVAC inspection. Our experienced service technicians are the best in the Phoenix area. Call Chandler Air today.