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Picture this: it’s a blistering summer day, you fire up your air conditioner to get rid of the stuffiness in your home, and you hear your system set to work. However, a couple of hours pass and your home feels almost exactly the same as it did before. Everything appears to be working fine, but a quick check of the vents throughout your home reveals weak airflow. Obviously your system is working in this situation, but your home isn’t feeling the benefits. What’s going on?

In this case the answer isn’t a problem with your HVAC system, but with the network of ducts that carry the air from your system to the various rooms in your home. You may not think all that much about them, but the truth is even a small problem in your ductwork can cause tremendous issues when it comes to system efficiency, and few people pay enough attention to know when they’ve got a problem.

On this blog, we’ll discuss four common problems that many people experience with their ductwork and how to know if you’re experiencing one of them.

The Ducts Are Too Large

What happens when you attach a large-capacity hose, like a fireman’s hose, to a standard garden water tap? The answer? Not much. Eventually water will fill the hose entirely and start flowing out the other end, but the flow will be weak. Even then, it can take an hour or more for the hose to fill up entirely to the point where water will eventually be forced out. Now imagine if that hose had a few small leaks along the way: water may never reach the end.

This is what happens when your air ducts are too big for your system. Your system pushes air into the ducts, but the ducts are too large for it to build up any sustained amount of air pressure, and thus a “forced air” system doesn’t have any force. As a result, you get poor air flow and no matter how hard your system seems to be working, you don’t get to feel the benefit. Some people discover this problem after getting their air conditioner replaced.

The Vents Are Misplaced

Where the vents in each room are placed has a huge influence over just how effective your heating and cooling system may be. However, far too many contractors and home designers don’t place these vents in an optimal location, either for duct length (which also plays a role) or to minimize heat loss or intrusion. Vents should be placed along exterior walls and near windows for best results. If you do have misplaced vents, you may be able to rectify the problem by either moving them or by installing additional vents which can help distribute air more evenly.

The Ducts Are Leaking

Leaky air ducts is a problem that most people may not even realize they have. Over time, air ducts can get old, degrade, and develop holes, particularly when they’re exposed to a high amount of moisture or have been damaged by vermin and pests like rats or mice. Even small holes and cracks can be enough for treated air to escape, thus preventing it from getting where you want it.

Old air ducts can sometimes be repaired, but if you have a large crack, hole, or even a fully-collapsed section, you’ll want to have the ducts completely replaced. Replacing your ducts isn’t usually as difficult as it might sound, and a Sterling HVAC expert can usually tell you whether or not you’re dealing with this problem and how to fix it if you are.

Mold & Mildew Are Growing

Mold and mildew can both grow in ducts which contain organic material and a little bit of moisture. Because air that flows through your ducts could be packed with humidity, all it takes is a small amount of organic material and you could find yourself facing a serious mold issue, including funky smells and possibly even health problems. While metal ducts aren’t usually affected by this, ducts composed of sheetrock, drywall, or other carbon-based materials are particularly susceptible.

An inspection of your ducts can reveal whether or not this is a problem you’re facing and an HVAC professional can also offer duct cleaning services which remove the mold problem and often coat the inside your ducts with an anti-microbial substance that prevents mold from taking root and growing any further.

Call Donmar Heating, Cooling & Plumbing at (703) 457-8676 and schedule a duct inspection service for your home or business now!
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