How To Test Hvac Ducts For Leaks

An operator person is testing leaks in HAVC ducts
  • Author: Amanda Arnold
  • Posted On: October 26, 2022
  • Updated On: August 21, 2023

Checking your home’s air duct system may be good if you’ve experienced draughts or increased heating or cooling expenses. Your utility expenses will increase due to heat or cool air loss due to ducting inefficiencies.

You have arrived at the appropriate location if you are asking how to test for air duct leaks. This article will define the many kinds of ductwork, show you how to test for leaks, and help you choose the right instruments.

What Are The Common Signs Of Leaking HVAC Ducts?

Do your energy costs spike during the summer or the middle of the winter? While it may be tempting to blame your HVAC system, the issue could be deeper within your duct system. Your HVAC system and budget can both be severely impacted by air leaks.

High Electricity Bills

Increased utility costs are among the greatest and most blatant indications of an air duct leak. Because your air ducts serve as the path for conditioned air when there is a leak, some of the air escapes before reaching the places that need it most.

To chill your home, your air conditioner must therefore work more. This additional effort puts the equipment under more stress, necessitating more energy to keep it working and raising energy costs.

Dust In Your House

Dust and other irritants will be drawn into your home through holes in the return segment of the duct. If your system is running, you could notice that the flooring and furnishings right next to your vents are dirtier than usual. This is a reliable sign of a hole or leak.

Your air ducts may source persistently noticeable dust when you run your finger over a surface. Dust accumulated in your attic and basement can spread throughout your house by leaking ductwork.

Dust by itself may not be hazardous, but over time it can have a detrimental impact on the air quality and be toxic to people with allergies or respiratory problems.

Imperfect Temperature In Your Home

The warm or cooled air might escape through duct leaks. Your HVAC has trouble achieving the proper settings because the air isn’t getting to where it should be. Check your ducts for any potential gaps or holes if everything else fails.

Look at this helpful advice on the ideal thermostat settings before seeking further repairs to ensure you are not using it incorrectly.

Steps To Test HVAC Ducts For Leaks

Inspect Ductworks Visually

If your ductwork is in the basement or attic, go for a visual check. Grab a flashlight, and scan the area for noticeable cracks and openings. Inspect the insulation surrounding the ducts for signs of damage, such as mildew or damp areas.

Cleaning up a damp area to signal a blockage would be necessary. Leaks are often indicated by duct corrosion. After the inspection, using mastic tape, you should seal all the spots you marked with a pencil.

Check For Air Escaping Holes

The joints between two sections of ductwork, commonly referred to as duct seams, are the most common locations for leaks. These joints are prone to deteriorate far more quickly than other body parts since they are under the most strain.

You may check for leakage by placing your palm close to the joints and feeling for air escaping via a hole. Sometimes the tear is pretty large, and air will start to stream out of the joint because it is exiting from the tear with such power.

Use An Incense Stick

Try employing a smoke test if visual inspection or feeling the air coming out of a hole is ineffective in locating air leaks. This entails utilizing smoke-emitting equipment to locate ductwork tears. You can use either an incense stick or a smoke pencil for this test. The entire ductwork should be covered by your tool gently.

There is probably a leak in that place if the smoke is being blown off or transported elsewhere. So that you may later patch them up, mark these locations with a marker.

Replace Old Duct Tape

If you come across some old duct tape when inspecting your ducting, it probably served as a leak stopper at one point. The leakage problem can be temporarily fixed with duct tape, but it is not a long-term solution.

The duct tape might need to be changed. But using mastic sealant to patch things up would be the best action.

Check For Leaks When HVAC Duct Is On

It can be challenging to find air leaks on your ducting. It may be beneficial to turn your HVAC system up high. Seeing gaps, tears, or holes is simpler when the air is ejected at its maximum velocity.

You can also open the windows in the space and turn on your HVAC blower at full speed. The problem is more likely to be duct leakage if you observe air coming in from the outside.

Bottom Line

Professionals utilize the air duct leakage test to identify the leaks. This technique entails running a pressured test with specialist equipment to check for air leaks in the ducts. It calculates the amount of leakage in your home’s conditioned and unconditioned areas.

This test also aids in identifying the main source of leakages, such as a supply, piece of equipment, or return leak. Identifying and fixing duct air leaks is crucial to keep your house cozy and energy-efficient.

You can use a smoke test, visually check for significant tears, or get a professional leakage test done to find air duct leaks. Once you’ve discovered the leaks, seal them tightly using aluminum or mastic tape.

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Author: Amanda Arnold

Amanda has been working with ConstructionHow since 2021. Her experience spans over 5 years in the creative niche such as home decor and trends, landscaping, renovations, and custom architectural values. As a home designer expert, she has a keen eye for the latest home improvement trends with accurate facts that readers find impossible to ignore. Being invested in home-building trends is how she has gained her lucrative expertise exploring more to bring a positive ambiance for all homeowners (and even tenants!). Currently, she lives in a beautiful beach home, a source of fascination for her.