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Troubleshooting HVAC Ducts

a living room with a fireplace

Have you found that your home’s HVAC system isn’t operating as strong as it used to? It’s possible that the underlying issue may be stemming from the unit’s ductwork. Homeowners often forget about these air ducts after the unit is installed. Instead, think of them as the arteries of the HVAC heart, with airflow possibly being constricted. Here are some simple ways to troubleshoot HVAC difficulties with or without the help of the pros.

Duct Leaks


If you notice that you’re not getting the air conditioner cranking at the level it needs to be during the summer, you may have an air leak in your duct that’s letting that cold air escape before it gets through your vents. Regular HVAC maintenance suggests a yearly or biannual checkup on the system and its ductwork to look for any underlying troubles. Don’t hesitate to call in some professional assistance for duct sealing to patch up any leaks or cracks in your ducts that are impacting air heating and cooling. This is an effective way to curb any energy loss that shortens the lifespan of an HVAC system and sends utility bills soaring.

Leaky ductwork is best replaced after an extended amount of time. However, homeowners can inspect their ducts for any seeps in the lining and apply a temporary fix of metal-sided duct tape. However, they should continue to regularly monitor the taped spaces to check for any additional leakage. This should become part of a regular maintenance routine to ensure that the HVAC system and ducts alike are operating at their best.

Duct Blockage


If you’ve noticed a burning smell coming from your HVAC unit, it’s possible that there’s a blockage within the ductwork. Dust and other allergens can build up in filters and ducts without proper cleaning. This leads to poor indoor air quality, and it also sends energy bills soaring as homeowners put more pressure on the system to operate at full capacity. Professionals can be called in to clean out duct joints and inspect lines to see where the blockage is happening that’s causing failures for the furnace or the air conditioner.

Before calling in the pros, you can actually do an evaluation of your home comfort. If you notice that airflow out of your vents isn’t strong in certain rooms, it may be time for an inspection. Be sure to check your HVAC filter, which is often the culprit for a heater or air conditioner’s poor function. From there, you can unscrew the vent cover to check directly behind the grill for any blocks at the end of a duct. Be sure to also locate the butterfly valves that control airflow to determine if they are open to allow hot or cold air to properly enter a room.

Other HVAC Issues


While issues with the duct system are common for any HVAC unit of any age, it’s important to consider issues beyond leaky air ducts. If the AC isn’t pumping out cold air in a timely manner, it’s possible that a system is dealing with a refrigerant leak. This requires a professional contractor to take a look at and properly repair it, due to the dangers of working with refrigerant if you’re untrained in its usage.

Be sure to consider any glitches within your programmable thermostat by taking a closer look inside at its wiring. In some cases, gunk on wires can be causing internal issues, and are fixed with a quick clean. If the problem still exists, consider bringing in an electrician to take a look at the setup. No matter the issue with your HVAC system, don’t hesitate to call in some professional assistance.